Biochemicals startup Genomatica has canceled its $100 million IPO plans, becoming the latest bio-technology company to pull away from public markets that have soured on the struggling sector.
Genomatica cited poor market conditions in withdrawing its IPO, first announced in August 2011. The San Diego, Calif.-based company also announced a $41.5 million round from investors including Italian chemical company Versalis, bringing its total funding to date to about $126 million.
So far this year, we’ve seen biomass-to-fuel startups Enerkem and Luca Technologies pull their IPO plans. Another biofuel startup, Elevance, went back to investors to raise a $104 million Series E round last month, without saying what it planned to do about its would-be $100 million IPO.
No doubt Genomatica and the rest of these companies are reacting to the poor performance of biofuel companies like Amyris, Codexis, Gevo and others that have gone public in the past few years. Amyris has seen its share price tank and top executives replaced, while Khosla Ventures-backed Gevo has been caught up in a legal challenge over its right to supply automotive fuel blended from bio-isobutanol made at its Luverne, Minn. plant.
Meanwhile, Renewable Energy Group, the country’s biggest biodiesel producer, saw its January IPO underperform expectations, raising only $72 million as compared to its target of $124 million. It’s part and parcel of an economic climate that has stalled greentech IPOs so far this year, whether companies have have called off IPO plans, like BrightSource Energy, or held off on them, as Silver Spring Networks has.
Genomatica was founded in 1998 and has created a technology platform that can analyze masses of potential biochemical reactions to come up with the best, fastest and/or cheapest way to create several precursor industrial chemicals, namely butanediol (BDO), a precursor to spandex and other polymers.
Dow Chemical and Waste Management are among Genomatica’s investors, leading to the potential for such strategic investors to buy it before it goes public. Thursday’s announcement did say that the new round was at a significant increase in valuation compared to its previous Series C round.
Genomatica signed a development deal with Mitsubishi Chemical last year. In July, new investor Versalis signed an MOU with Genomatica and Italian partner Novamont to form a partnership to make BDO.
But Genomatica has also been losing money -- $5.9 million in 2008, $9.0 million in 2009 and $14.1 million in 2010 -- and in February pushed back its commercialization target date from 2012 to 2013.