Mass spec data analysis software company ProteoMetrics is a shell of its former self. Genomic Solutions of Ann Arbor, Mich., scooped out the 5-year-old protein informatics company’s software to form the seed of a new subsidiary, Proteomic Solutions.
Founded in 1997 by Rockefeller University’s Brian Chait and former lab members Ron Beavis and David Fenyo to commercialize their protein identification software, ProteoMetrics shut down its Manhattan headquarters and sent packing the 40 or so employees it housed. The company’s 11-person Winnipeg office, led by former CEO Beavis, will be the new Proteomics Solutions. Fenyo, former CSO and president, will take on the role of director of proteomics at Genomic Solutions, working remotely from his home in New York.
The acquisition began in July as a software co-development deal. “We really were looking to expand beyond just handling mass spectral data,” says Jennifer Krone, who was VP of scientific consulting at ProteoMetrics and now proteomics specialist with Genomic Solutions. “Our customers have been asking to bring in more of the front end, whether it be 2D gel or some sort of HPLC separations.”
Genomic Solutions, on the other hand, offered the hardware and software for the pre-mass spec steps of protein separation, from 2D gel image analysis to automated spot picking. What both companies have in common is software that is not tied to a specific vendor’s mass spectrometers.
Meanwhile, ProteoMetrics had been desperately seeking more funds. In May, it hired e-commerce veteran Doug Lockyear as co-CEO to figure out how. There were two options: go after VC investment or hook up with a partner to broaden its offerings. In November Lockyear stepped down for “several reasons, but mainly because that was his job — to bring in the funding — and that wasn’t happening,” Krone says.
Over the course of the collaboration, an acquisition started looking like a good way to go.
For its part, Genomic Solutions entered the partnership with an acquisition in mind. “We had a right of first refusal” to acquire either ProteoMetrics or its technology, says Genomic Solutions spokesperson Kathleen Murphy. Neither company would comment on the cost of the acquisition.
Since the two companies have been working together they have been developing a new product, called PWRHouse, linking their flagship software products. Genomic Solutions currently markets Protein Warehouse for sample tracking and data management of 2D gel data. ProteoMetrics brings Radars, a client-server enterprise package for managing mass spec data, to the table. “So we’re now going to be able to offer a full complement,” says Murphy.
— Aaron J. Sender