Situation: There was a time when investing in antibody-based therapeutics was considered highly risky and definitely "off the radar" for most venture capitalists. That time was also at the '97–99 height of the dot-com investing boom, when most VCs were indeed wondering if they should do any life science investing at all. Bristol-Myers Squib's spin-out of all their antibody technology could not have come at a better time for Sofinnova Ventures.
Strategy: Sofinnova immediately recognized the quality of the antibody portfolio and the strength of the Seattle Genetics founding management team, and led the Series A round. In less than three years, and after net spending of only $13M, the company went public on Nasdaq. Senior board member Mike Powell worked closely with management, including co-founder and current CEO Clay Siegall, to hire a strong team of antibody developers, push multiple programs into development for cancer, and build one of the strongest antibody biotech start-ups of the '90s.
Today: Seattle Genetics has a market cap close to $1B, with more than 240 employees and seven programs in development, and currently is Seattle’s flagship biotech company. They have strong partnership revenues and collaborations with many companies, including biotech giants such as Genentech.