Synthetic.com’s publisher and editor, Simons Chase, interviews Matthew McKnight. Matt is the Chief Commercial Officer of Ginkgo Bioworks where he also leads the company’s biosecurity platform, Concentric by Ginkgo. Prior to Ginkgo, Matt spent 7 years as an investor at IndUS Growth Partners and was the President and COO of Decision Resources Group. He has worked supporting business development at Palantir Technologies and is an active seed stage venture investor. Early in his career, Matt served as an officer in the United States Marine Corps. Matt completed a degree in History at Dartmouth College and is a graduate of the joint degree program at the Harvard Business School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government where he was a Zuckerman Fellow. Topics include synthetic biology, COVID, biosecurity, China.
Ginkgo Bioworks, Inc. and Soaring Eagle Acquisition Corp. (Nasdaq: SRNG) (“Soaring Eagle”), a publicly traded special purpose acquisition company, have agreed to a business combination that will result in Ginkgo becoming a publicly-listed company. In connection with the business combination, the company will change its jurisdiction of incorporation from the Cayman Islands to Delaware and will change its name to “Ginkgo Bioworks Holdings, Inc.” The Class A common stock of Ginkgo Bioworks Holdings, Inc. are expected to commence trading on the NYSE this week under the symbol “DNA”.
There is a growing awareness of the capabilities and potential of engineered biology, ranging from mRNA vaccines to animal-free protein to renewable plastics. Much like computer programming impacted every information-based industry (including media, telecom, advertising, and finance), cell programming has the potential to impact every physical goods industry (including therapeutics, food, agriculture, chemicals, and electronics). Ginkgo programs living cells for customers in any industry, so they can realize the potential of biology to grow more sustainable and innovative products. Ginkgo’s founders have been working together for nearly twenty years since they first met at MIT. They launched Ginkgo in 2008 with the consistent goal of developing a platform that makes cell programming easier for their customers and partners. Ginkgo’s platform leverages advanced robotic automation, proprietary software, and data analytics to continuously improve the technology (“Foundry”) as well as the knowledge and re-usable biological assets (“Codebase”) required to engineer biology. Ginkgo has built a scalable engineering and data platform by integrating a spectrum of innovative life sciences tools into their Foundry, and has amassed a large, flexible, and diverse biological Codebase to facilitate innovation across a wide breadth of applications.
“The magic of biology is that cells run on digital code similar to a computer, except that instead of 0s and 1s it’s As, Ts, Cs, and Gs,” said Jason Kelly, co-founder and CEO of Ginkgo Bioworks, Inc. “Ginkgo’s platform makes it easier to program this code, and we are making this platform available to organizations working to solve our most pressing problems. From mRNA vaccines reaching people’s arms to combating climate change, the opportunity to work with programmed cells has never been more apparent. We are thrilled to partner with Arie as well as the team at Soaring Eagle to bring this vision to life.”
The transaction implies a pre-money equity valuation for Ginkgo of $15.0 billion, and is expected to provide up to $2.5 billion of gross cash proceeds. Gross proceeds include Soaring Eagle’s $1.725 billion of cash in trust (subject to any redemptions by Soaring Eagle’s public shareholders) and $775 million in proceeds from a PIPE transaction priced at $10.00 per share of Class A common stock of Soaring Eagle to be funded immediately prior to the closing of the transaction. Eagle Equity Partners is co-sponsoring the transaction with Bellco Capital, led by Dr. Arie Belldegrun. Dr. Belldegrun is a leader in the field of cell and gene therapy and founder of Kite Pharma and Allogene Therapeutics. Both co-sponsors are also investing in the PIPE. The PIPE is being led by Baillie Gifford, Putnam Investments, and funds and accounts managed by Counterpoint Global (Morgan Stanley Investment Management) and with additional participation from new and existing investors including accounts advised by ARK Investment Management LLC, ArrowMark Partners, Bain Capital Public Equity, Berkshire Partners, Cascade Investment, Casdin Capital, Franklin Advisers, funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc., and Viking Global Investors.
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