Despite the warning signs, it was a shock to many when Texas-based firm Genometrix shut its doors. After eliminating the CEO position in December, the board told management to find a buyer or private financing. Three rounds of layoffs brought the 100-strong company to a roster of three dozen, and the company finally closed down in late June. A handful of people were left to face resurrecting or liquidating what was left. Amid the confusion, one thing was clear: the paths out of Genometrix were many.
Bob Ellis, president since July 1998, made the leap to executive VP for product development, management, and quality at Affymetrix. He left Genometrix about a week after the rest of the employees had gone. “I didn’t want to leave before we gave it the best try we could,” he says. “It wasn’t the technology or the people, it was the availability of funds.”
Ellis, who was previously at Applied Biosystems since 1986, was recruited by Affy. He says the Genometrix closing left a “target-rich environment” for industry recruiters.
Recruiters didn’t get Mitch Eggers, though. Former CEO and then CTO, Eggers resigned the day before Genometrix closed down and plans to head for the San Diego area to start up another company. Wary of releasing details, he says it will have a DNA-based product using electrical engineering, but that the platform will be different from microarrays. Eggers says he came across this technology but felt it didn’t belong in the strictly gene-expression Genometrix. The best option was “to do it in a separate entity,” he says. He’s currently on the hunt for VC funding or a Fortune 100 partner for the new venture. “It will be a reunion to some degree of individuals from Genometrix” because some of his former colleagues will join the new firm.
David Jorden, investor-turned-CFO, is left manning the ship. His goal is to find some partners to restart the firm. “It wouldn’t necessarily be the Genometrix of old,” he says. “It would be a recapitalization of the IP and technology.” Jorden says a number of employees have expressed interest in rejoining. If talks with potential partners fall through, he’ll turn to selling off the company’s assets. “I still think the technology has value,” Jorden says. “It just has to be properly focused.”
— Meredith Salisbury