Jeff Hatfield assembles a syndicate with some A-list public investors in the mix as Vividion adds $135M raise
Back when Vividion put together its $82 million B round more than a year ago, I speculated that the startup was probably gearing up for an IPO. That still hasn’t happened, but they may be a lot closer after today.
The ARCH- and Versant-backed company just nailed down a $135 million raise from a dream team of crossover investors, with Logos Capital and Boxer Capital leading as SoftBank jumps in with Avoro Capital Advisors, BlackRock, RA Capital Management, T. Rowe Price Associates, Surveyor Capital (a Citadel company), Woodline Partners LP, Acuta Capital and Driehaus Capital Management. Existing investors ARCH Venture Partners, BVF Partners L.P., Casdin Capital, Mubadala Capital, Nextech Invest and Versant Ventures all came back to chip in.
“There was a lot of enthusiasm for this raise,” CEO Jeff Hatfield tells me about the pipeline-building raise for a company that has big ambitions in oncology as well as immunology. “It came together very quickly and we bumped it up a couple of times.”
Hatfield isn’t ready to flag an IPO, though — “Who knows what the future holds?” — but he’s a lot more forthcoming about the preclinical work they have underway.
In-house work includes a focus on the KEAP1-NRF2 axis, with work underway on NRF2 mutant and addicted cancers. NRF2 modulates stress in cells, explains Hatfield, and once “mutated it leads to a form of cancer that is currently” unaddressed by any existing therapeutics. That gets to the company’s focus on the broad range of disease targets still in uncharted drug territory.
The company has specialized in identifying ligands for unique pockets, allowing them to drug previously undruggable proteins. The chairman is Rich Heyman, who built and sold Aragon and Seragon.
There is also a transcription factor program they’re working on with Bristol Myers that Hatfield describes as “one of a handful of Holy Grail targets in oncology and immunology.” But that’s as far as he’s willing to go at this stage.
So how about that IPO?
Just this morning we wrote up a story about SoftBank’s plan to inject billions more in public biotechs, helping to push the stock boom that’s driven up the Nasdaq biotech index by 35% over the past year — and adding more cash to crossovers would appear to fit in neatly with that strategy.
Since that B round Vividion has struck a deal with Roche — the Big Pharma everyone likes to have on their R&D side — that delivered $135 million in cash plus multiple billions on the back end. That gave Roche a shot at E3 ligases — which plays a role in protein degradation, one of BD chief James Sabry’s favorite subjects — as well as new oncology and immunology programs.
That all adds up to some prominent players, world-class partners, a lot of cash on hand and the first snapshot of the preclinical strategy — all key ingredients fueling the IPO boom of the past year.
So we’ll see.