James Noble is taking his last lap at the biotech he founded, and saved. It's Adrian Rawcliffe's turn now
Back in the summer of 2014, Adaptimmune CEO James Noble had about a million pounds in the bank. Not too much to survive on, as he told me later in recounting the tale. But after steering the startup in and out of a buyout in order to stay in business, it wasn’t his first look over the cliff.
A few months later GlaxoSmithKline stepped up with a $350 million collaboration deal, where it is still actively involved in pushing through a leading program in the T-cell receptor (TCR) field.
Today, Adaptimmune is a much larger, public company $ADAP with operations in the UK and Philadelphia, much further along the way in its development efforts. And Noble — a 30-year veteran who once operated as co-CEO of Immunocore — is handing the reins over to a GSK vet to run the company.
Adrian Rawcliffe, recruited from the pharma giant in 2015 as its CFO — just ahead of raking in $191 million in an IPO — will be officially taking the helm on September 1. Rawcliffe spent 27 years at GSK, winding up as head of finance for their North American Pharmaceuticals business.
David Mott from New Enterprise Associates still chairs the board at Adaptimmune, and he cited that Big Pharma experience in offering Rawcliffe the thumbs-up today on his new post. Mott and the board will now turn to finding Rawcliffe’s replacement as CFO.
He’ll have some challenges to deal with. The biotech’s shares have dwindled sharply since last fall, dropping about $10 off the price, which opened today at $4.05. The market cap has dwindled to a little more than $400 million — which is still a long way from that last million Noble was down to in 2014.