Startups, Venture

Thiel-backed Compass adds $49M to A round, bringing total to $132M

A Cambridge startup that’s been trying — and failing — to operate under the radar these past three years is now ready to step into the limelight. Compass Therapeutics says it’s finally wrapped its years-long quest to raise a Series A mega-round totaling $132 million, and it’s heading to the clinic with a lead immuno-oncology drug.

Tom Schuetz

The company has been collecting chunks of money for this raise over the past three years, with word leaking rather early in the fundraising process. Reporters have dug up fundraising updates several times since (including a piece noting Peter Thiel was a backer), shedding some light on the company before it was quite ready, Compass CEO Tom Schuetz tells me.

The news today is that they added $49 million to a previously-reported $83 million round. Instead of calling it a small B round, they’re opting to wrap it into one big A round (hey, Series A mega-rounds are officially a thing).

You may have seen a Boston Business Journal piece back in 2017 reporting a $172 million capital raise for Compass. To clear things up, Compass says that was pulled from SEC filings that included warrants that hadn’t been cashed in yet. The $132 million figure is what the company has raised total since its inception — it is not in addition to previously-reported rounds. And those $60 million warrants are still available, but Schuetz tells me Compass doesn’t intend to pull them down — they have plenty of money to get into the clinic.

Funding for this round was led by OrbiMed Advisors and included F-Prime Capital, Cowen Healthcare Investments, and Thiel Capital, among others.

The new $49 million that just closed will go toward two main efforts: pushing its cancer drug CTX-471 into human trials in 2019 and choosing two more product candidates for the clinic.

Schuetz wouldn’t name the target for CTX-471, but said the company’s new approach to monoclonal antibody discovery has allowed them to identify 30 targets in cancer, inflammation, and autoimmune disease.

“We can take millions or tens of millions of individual antibodies and we can display those on the surface of human cells, and that tech allows us to screen for antibodies that bind to the target of interest,” Schuetz said. “The technology has allowed us to be extremely rapid and efficient in drug discovery.”

Compass has more than 15 therapeutic candidates advancing through preclinical development now.

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