Is the synthetic biology story of Ginkgo Bioworks worth $ 15 billion?

“There should be good times when a young biotech company can hire people to write irrelevant magazine-style articles,” he said. shocked Dirk Haussecker, a savvy biotech stock picker is active on Twitter.

Kelly said the magazine was inspired by Think, a periodical printed by IBM since the 1930s. “Why did they do that? Well, no one knows what a computer is,” said Kelly, who sees Ginkgo as having the same role as an evangelist for the possibilities of genetic engineering.

During the a podcast, reporters with Stat News compared Ginkgo to a “stock meme,” or “stonk,” positioned to appeal to an invested public prosecution trends without regard for the basics of business. When the SPAC deal is finalized-sometime in September-the company will sell under the stock symbol “DNA,” formerly owned by Genentech, a leading hero on the biotech scene. “Ginkgo Bioworks is not fit to use the DNA ticker,” said stock reporter Adam Feuerstein.

SPACs are a Trend on Wall Street which offers an IPO route with a little less than the usual analysis of a company’s financial outlook. Will Gornall, a professor of business school at the University of British Columbia, believes they democratize investor access to hot sectors but can also exaggerate the value of companies. Some agreement, such as the one that led Richard Branson’s public space company Virgin Galactic Holdings, did well, but the five electric auto companies that advertised through SPACs were later filled with so-called Bloomberg “ferocity”Corrections.

Gornall sees the logic of a Ginkgo gambling bettor. In recent years stock market revenue has been driven by only a handful of tech companies, including Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft-each now worth more than a trillion dollars. “Valuation can be meaningful if there’s even a 1% chance that biology is the computer of the future and it’s the company that achieves that,” Gornall said.

Other people’s products

Since its inception, Ginkgo has spent nearly half a billion dollars, most of it manufacturing labs with robots, genasseheners and sophisticated lab instruments such as mass spectrometers. These “foundries” are allowed to test genes added to microorganisms (frequent yeast) or other cells. It says it can produce 50,000 different genetically engineered cells a day. A typical purpose of a foundry project is to determine which of the hundreds of versions of a given gene is more efficient, such as turning sugar into a specific chemical. Kelly said customers can use Ginkgo’s services instead of building their own lab.

What Ginkgo’s story lacks is any blockbuster products that result from its research service. “If you write your own‘ synbio ’, that’s the key to success-you say you’re going to the moon,” Koeris said. with an innovative product, whether medicinal or crazy industrial product. “

Today, the engineering of Ginkgo yeast cells has led to the commercial production of three -molecule fragrance, according to Kelly. Robert Weinstein, president and CEO of U.S. flavor and additive arm Robertet, confirmed that his company is now cracking two such molecules using yeast made by Kelly’s company. One, gamma-decalactone, has a strong peach odor. Another, massoia lactone, is a clear liquid usually separated from the bark of a tropical tree; used as a seasoning, it can be sold online for $ 1,200 a kilo. Running a fermenter year-round can generate several million dollars worth of such a chemical specialist.

Organism engineers: The five founders of Ginkgo Bioworks meet at MIT. From left: Reshma Shetty, Barry Canton, Jason Kelly, Austin Che, Tom Knight.


For George Church, a professor at Harvard Medical School, such products have yet to fulfill the promise that synthetic biology will largely shift to manufacturing. “I think tastes and smells are so far removed from the vision that biology can do anything,” Church said. Kelly also sometimes finds it difficult to reconcile the “disruptive” potential she sees for synthetic biology with Ginkgo’s achievement. The church caught my attention a May report in the Boston Globe about Ginkgo’s union with the Soaring Eagle. In it, Kelly said his company is an attractive investment because the world has become familiar with the unique potential of synthetic biology, citing covid-19 vaccines made from messenger RNA and proteins that are not ‘ y animal new plant burgers, such as from Impossible Foods

“The article is a list of achievements, but the most interesting achievements from others,” Church said. “It doesn’t seem to add up to $ 15 billion to me.” However, Church said he expects Ginkgo to succeed. Not only is the company his “favorite unicorn,” but it is obtained the remains in some of his own synthetic-bio startups after they busted (also recently sold a Zymergen company). How Ginkgo production in the future “can help our entire field or damage our entire field,” he says.

While Ginkgo’s work hasn’t brought in any blockbusters, and Kelly has allowed biotech to be “disappointing” for a long time, he says products from other customers are about to arrive. the The Cannabis company Cronos, which is based in Canada, says by the end of the year it will sell this intoxicating pineapple-flavored candy that contains CBG, a molecular ingredient in flower marijuana; Ginkgo helped show it how to make a yeast compound. A spinout from Ginkgo, called Motif FoodWorks, states it is expected to have a synthetically made meat flavor that will also be available this year.

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