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Michael Hunkapiller In, Hugh Martin Out as CEO of Pacific Biosciences

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Pacific Biosciences today announced Michael Hunkapiller is replacing Hugh Martin as the company's president and CEO, effective immediately.

Martin will remain on the company's board of directors through its next annual meeting of shareholders and has agreed to resign from the board on the date of the meeting. He will serve as a consultant to PacBio for six months, it said in a document filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Menlo Park, Calif.-based firm said that Martin resigned on Jan. 5, but did not provide a reason for the resignation. Martin, who has led the company since 2004, has been battling multiple myeloma, with which he was diagnosed in 2009.

The management shuffle comes amid a steep decline in PacBio's stock, which fell 82 percent in 2011. In August its share price took a hit after the company disclosed in its second-quarter earnings results a backlog on instruments that fell short of investment analyst expectations.

In September, PacBio announced it would lay off 130 employees due to economic uncertainties and in order to position the company for success in the long term. Most recently, a class action lawsuit was initiated alleging the company intentionally hid materially important information in order to lure investors to purchase its stock.

The company reported a 1 percent decline in revenues for its third quarter in October.

In a statement from PacBio, Martin said, "Developing a technology as advanced as single molecule sequencing was a tremendous achievement for PacBio, and [Hunkapiller] is now the ideal person to drive the broader adoption of PacBio's products. I am in support of this decision and am looking forward to identifying my next exciting career venture."

Before joining PacBio, Martin was president and CEO of optical telecommunications shop ONI Systems, which he also founded. Before that he was president and director of interactive gaming firm 3DO.

Hunkapiller is no stranger to PacBio, having joined the company's board in 2005. In late 2011 he was named executive chairman of PacBio's board. And his daughter, Kathryn Keho, is the director of scientific collaborations for PacBio.

Hunkapiller spent 21 years at Applied Biosystems, now part of Life Technologies, and from 1995 to 2004 he served as ABI's president and general manager.

Hunkapiller will continue to be a general partner at venture capital firm Alloy Ventures, which he joined following his departure from ABI. He also is a director of NuGen, Verinata Health, and RainDance Technologies.

"Since joining the company's board, I have always believed that our SMRT technology would play a significant role in biological research and the advancement of medical therapies," he said in a PacBio statement. "Now that we have begun to deliver products to customers, I am more convinced than ever that we are on our way to fulfilling that promise. The company is in great position with the people, products, and cash to drive the adoption of its disruptive technology."

The firm's shares were up 1 percent at $3.01 in Friday afternoon trading on the Nasdaq.

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