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Invitrogen Laid Off 60 Staffers in August; Will Lay Off 34 More Oct. 27

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) — Invitrogen laid off 60 employees on Aug. 31 and plans to lay off an additional 34 staffers on Oct. 27, according to California employment records.
The August lay-offs were in Invitrogen’s South San Francisco, Calif., facility, while the ones scheduled for Oct. 27 will be in the company’s Burlingame space, the records show.
It was not immediately clear what businesses or departments have been or will be affected. The lay-offs represent approximately 2 percent of the company's 4,800 employees worldwide.
What is known is that the South San Francisco facility comprises Zymed Laboratories, the antibody manufacturer Invitrogen bought at the start of 2005, while the Burlingame space comprises Caltag Laboratories, a maker of antibodies and reagents for flow cytometry applications that Invitrogen acquired in the summer of that year.
It was not immediately clear whether other business units are affected. Also not immediately unclear is whether the lay-offs are tied to the formal business reassessment that has been ongoing at Invitrogen since the company disclosed lackluster second-quarter revenue growth and cut its full-year 2006 revenue forecast in August.
An Invitrogen spokesperson did not immediately return multiple calls seeking comment.
During the company’s second-quarter conference call Aug. 3 CEO Greg Lucier and other company officials laid much of the blame for the revenue, which missed analysts’ estimates, on poor sales in its BioProduction division and its sera products, but added that no part of its business portfolio would be safe from scrutiny.
During the first half of the year Lucier had said the company had been investing heavily in R&D and technical sales specialists while operating generally on “a presumption on revenue being higher than it actually turned out.”
After moving into new business segments and having “greatly expanded its footprint the last couple of years,” he had said the company now needs to step back and reassess its different business segments.
Lucier had singled out Invitrogen’s sera business as one segment that will be especially scrutinized but added Invitrogen will “conduct a strategic review on each and every one of the businesses in which we operate.”
He had said the company “intend[s] to do this over the next several months and if actions are needed, actions will be taken in order to make our portfolio one where we can…produce high margins in a very stable, consistent way.”
What’s in South San Fran and Burlingame?
Invitrogen acquired Zymed for $60 million in cash in the beginning of 2005. The company, based in South San Francisco, offers immunoassay reagents for research and clinical diagnostics. At the time of the acquisition Zymed had more than 2,000 antibodies and related products suitable for research in the areas of cancer, neurological diseases, and infectious disease.
Invitrogen had said at the time that following the acquisition Zymed's South San Francisco facility will become the main site for Invitrogen's antibody production and distribution.
Invitrogen had expected Zymed to generate $15 million in sales during the first year following the acquisition.
Invitrogen acquired Caltag Laboratories for $20 million in cash in the summer of 2005. The company, based in Burlingame, makes antibodies and reagents for flow cytometry applications, including tandem dyes for multi-color flow cytometry.
In addition to research tools, it has developed technologies for diagnostics. Fifteen of its products are FDA-approved class II in vitro diagnostic devices. At the time of the acquisition, Caltag’s German subsidiary offered more than 200 antibodies approved for diagnostic sales in the European Union.
Invitrogen said it believes Caltag will complement its proteomics technologies. "Caltag's strength in supporting flow cytometry work is a natural fit for this goal through its synergies with Invitrogen's upstream proteomics technologies," Cheri Walker, Invitrogen's vice president of proteomics, in a statement at the time.
Caltag's US staff of about 50 was to remain in the San Francisco area as part of Invitrogen's Antibody Center of Excellence. Caltag was expected to have approximately $10 million in sales in the following year.
Invitrogen said it will release its third-quarter earnings Oct. 26.

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