Biotech Voices

Dear Kite: With 2300% upside, we blazed an amazing trail

With the $12 billion Kite buyout now signed, sealed and delivered, CEO Arie Belldegrun has penned a thank-you note to everyone who helped along the way.

Here it is, in its entirety.

To My Kite Family –

Arie Belldegrun

For all of us, the Kite experience has been more than just an investment opportunity or a stepping stone in a professional career. Over the past eight years, Kite has become an integral part of our lives and a foundation from which hope became more than just an aspiration.

To our patients: You put your faith in us and an experimental technology known as CAR T therapy. That faith allowed a small proof-of-concept trial to potentially produce the first-and-only approved CAR T therapy for multiple forms of large B-cell lymphoma. We now have the potential to treat thousands of patients in need and the means to expand the technology to treat many other tumors.

To clinicians, our steadfast partners: Your tireless efforts in conducting clinical trials, with the sole purpose of giving your patients hope when no other options remained, is to be commended. You should be proud. Your determination and expertise have paved the way for others to follow.

To our investors: I am honored and humbled by your continued belief in us. Some of you joined me in the nascent stages of Kite, where you invested in simply my word, passion and belief. While other investors came later, all of you stood by our side, time and time again, even when others tried to infuse doubt. You have been wise advisors and fierce sentinels.

To our Board of Directors: Your support and guidance is beyond what anyone may read in an SEC filing. You have been our guardians and teachers, each bringing your own set of experiences and insights for the betterment of everyone involved in Kite. You have helped us build and preserve a bright future for cell therapy.

To our UCLA friends and Scientific Founders: Back in 2009, your unpopular belief that cellular immunotherapy not only held great promise for the treatment of patients but could also be brought to patients with otherwise incurable cancer was paramount to the success of Kite. Your friendship, expertise and support of the entire Kite family for the past eight years is the ultimate example of a successful academic-industry partnership. I cannot thank you enough for all you have done for Kite.

To our employees: I can’t imagine working alongside a braver, more passionate or more committed group of people, oftentimes at the quiet sacrifice of your personal lives. Your devotion has been without limit or question, even in the face of skeptics.

In a span of just a few short years, we grew from fewer than 10 employees to almost 700. The company’s value increased 2300% from the time of our IPO to nearly $12 billion with the acquisition by Gilead Sciences. Our closing $180 per share price represents not just a 960% appreciation from the IPO price of $17 per share, but the largest ever pre-commercial biopharma acquisition.

Kite has changed so many lives in just eight years. I know it has changed mine. I hope it has changed yours, too.

In this, my last official update as President and CEO of Kite, I remain filled with hope. Hope that Kite’s maiden flight is merely the first leg of a journey, with an ultimate destination more amazing than any of us can today conceive. Hope that we, individually, and collectively, remain focused on the cure and continue to work toward this noble pursuit. And, hope that I get the chance to shake your hand and personally thank each of you for what you have done to make the Kite dream possible.

Hope is only the beginning, not the strategy.

Thank you all again for your years of support. None of this would have been possible without each of you.


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