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Ginkgo Bioworks acquires Zymergen

Cell engineering company Ginkgo Bioworks has acquired the troubled synthetic biology specialist Zymergen for a market capitalisation of $300 million. It will now look for “strategic alternatives” for the new drug discovery business once this is complete. Both boards have approved.

Ginkgo, which does not make its own products and which went public in May 2001 as part of a $2.5 billion merger, said that it plans to integrate Zymergen’s core automation and software into its foundry for designing living cells. It will continue Zymergen’s ongoing cost restructuring, including reducing employee numbers, though the core technical team will be kept on to add to its key capabilities.

Zymergen had raised over $1 billion in VC funding before a $500 million IPO in April 2021. However, CEO Josh Hoffman left only three months later and the company’s shares fell by 75% after it revealed that it had no chance of making any revenues in that year or in 2022. Early in 2022, under the leadership former Illumina CEO Jay Flatley, Zymergen announced plans to use its platform and the world’s largest metagenomics database to create a drug discovery business focused on precision oncology medicines. This will now be sold off.

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