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SEQUENCING For US Genomics, DNA Flows, and Money Does Too

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US Genomics, catapulted to industry attention with Craig Venter’s endorsement and its buzzed-about video of unspooling single molecules of DNA, has embarked on raising a fourth round of private equity investment, hoping to secure enough money to last the company three years, according to CEO Eugene Chan.

“We want to raise enough money to take us to profitability and a public offering before three years are up, maybe as early as 18 months,” he says.

In five years since dropping out of Harvard Medical School, the 28-year-old Chan has raised some $19.3 million in capital for a novel genome-sequencing idea that may not bear substantial commercial fruit for at least four years. The company, which has six patents granted and applications for another 30, has one prototype in operation at the University of California, San Francisco.

While Chan is not divulging how much the company may be worth after this next round of investment, he does expect it to be more than the last time it sold off part of its equity.

“The interest has been enormous,” Chan says. Previous investors — including Venter, who joined in the firm’s previous round — are anteing up for the next tranche.

“We have three groups, all of whom want to put more money in than their pro rata share,” Chan says. Investor interest puts this entrepreneur in an enviable position: figuring out how much money to take in, while preserving as large an equity stake as possible for himself.

So far, so good, says Chan. “We have done amazingly well at every step.”

— Mo Krochmal

 

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