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Complete Genomics Cuts Wages, Other Costs as it Seeks to Close Series D Financing Round

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This article has been updated to include additional comments from a company official.

In response to a delay in the closing of its Series D financing round, Complete Genomics has cut its costs, including staff salaries, In Sequence has learned.

According to Cliff Reid, the company's chairman, president, and CEO, the company is in the late stages of closing a Series D investment. But due to the slowdown of the capital markets in recent months, "it has taken us longer than anticipated to close," he said.

In order to save its remaining cash, the company on April 1 implemented "a variety of cost-saving measures," including "some reductions" in the salaries of its employees and a trimming of "non-essential" costs such as discretionary spending. "We just want to be prudent about [spending] our cash," Reid said.

He declined to reveal the extent of the salary reductions but said that senior management took steeper cuts than lower-level employees.

The company has not had any layoffs, he added, and is "still running at full capacity."
At this time, he said, Complete Genomics does not anticipate any effect of the current lack of funding on its ability to launch its service in June, or to complete pilot projects on time. As of earlier this year, the firm had approximately 120 employees.

Reid said the company is working on closing its Series D round "as soon as possible" and is in late stages of discussions with a variety of existing and new investors. "Our existing investors are 100 percent supportive," he said.

He declined to say how much longer the company's remaining cash will last, or whether layoffs will become necessary if hte company is unable to shore up additional capital in the near future.

As of November 2008, Complete Genomics had raised $46 million in venture capital from three funding rounds. Investors include Enterprise Partners Venture Capital, OVP Venture Partners, Prospect Venture Partners, Highland Capital Management, and Genentech.

The company plans to launch a commercial whole-genome human sequencing service in June, targeted at research institutes and companies, and promises to sequence a human genome for as little as $5,000.

As of March, the firm had signed up more than half a dozen early collaborators, including the Institute for Systems Biology, the Broad Institute, and a couple of unnamed pharmaceutical companies, and planned to deliver the first set of genomes to collaborators this month or next.

In each pilot project for early-access customers, Complete Genomics sequences five human genomes for $100,000. As of last month, the company was at capacity for these types of projects and was already discussing larger projects for the second half of the year with some customers.

The company presented human genome sequencing data, generated using its proprietary short-read sequencing technology, publicly for the first time at the Advances in Genome Biology and Technology conference in February (see In Sequence 2/10/2009)

In that project, company researchers sequenced a Caucasian HapMap sample to 91-fold average coverage, sequencing about 92 percent of the genome.