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Updated: 16 hours 17 min ago

Fixing Uber: An Open Letter to the Next CEO

Tue, 06/27/2017 - 09:40

For starters, trust that my motives come from a good place. To date I have given such advice to only three CEOs—Ivan Seidenberg when he was CEO of Verizon, Apple CEO Tim Cook, and most recently, your predecessor. Not sure they ever read any of it but I do this when I get deeply inspired, if not impassioned, because I truly care about their respective companies and don’t want see them fail. As an entrepreneur I never want to see anyone fail.

Firstly, for Uber’s (and your sake) I hope you are a Fixer (#4) and not... Read more »

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Boston Is Arguably the Heart of Biotech. But Who Makes It So? Have Your Say.

Mon, 06/26/2017 - 09:50

By the end of this year, for the first time, patients with certain deadly types of blood cancer might have a new option, CAR-T cell therapy, to prolong their life. Immunotherapy could further entrench itself as a mainstay of cancer treatment. Newer drugmaking methods—RNA interference and gene therapy—could get their first ever FDA reviews. Multiple human trials of a new gene editing technology sure to win the Nobel Prize someday may have begun.

These are the types of scientific innovations that challenge norms and change the lives of millions of people across the globe, not to mention the... Read more »

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Initiative to Boost SoCal’s Startup Scene Teams With GV Founder

Mon, 06/26/2017 - 01:38

A Silicon Valley entrepreneur has set out to boost the startup ecosystem in San Diego and the rest of Southern California—and he already has scored a coup by partnering with Bill Maris, the founder and former CEO of Google Ventures, now known as GV.

Steve Poizner, who sold two of his startups to Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM) and served as California Insurance Commissioner a decade ago, has signed a collaboration agreement with a venture fund that Maris founded in suburban San Diego.

Maris raised $160 million last month for the inaugural fund of Section 32, a new venture firm he founded... Read more »

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Bio Roundup: Senate Trumpcare, FDA On Cancer, Alzheimer Review & More

Fri, 06/23/2017 - 08:05

All eyes are on the nation’s capital this week, where the Senate released its version of the American Health Care Act (now called the Better Care Reconciliation Act) and the White House worked on an executive order to address drug prices. No one knows how to pay for high-priced medicines that could bring long-term relief or even cures; we checked with gene therapy maker Bluebird Bio about its latest experimental data and asked officials for their thoughts on pricing. There were plenty more clinical results and FDA news to round up, plus boatloads of startup funding. Let’s get right to it.... Read more »

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Lilly Adds Chemistry Capabilities in San Diego Lab Expansion

Thu, 06/22/2017 - 19:41

Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY) has completed a $90 million expansion of its biotechnology R&D center in San Diego, added new automated synthesis equipment, and plans to build out its next-generation chemistry capabilities here over the next two years.

The new facility adds 180,000 square feet of space to Lilly’s laboratory in La Jolla—a 145 percent increase for the site. The expansion features a soaring architectural façade intended to resemble DNA molecules during gel electrophoresis. During a dedication ceremony of the revamped facility Wednesday, David Ricks, chairman and CEO of the Indianapolis-based pharmaceutical giant, said the project is part of the... Read more »

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Mary Lou Jepsen: The Full Xconomy Voices Interview

Thu, 06/22/2017 - 09:00

For the inaugural episode of our new podcast, Xconomy Voices, we chose to speak with Bay Area entrepreneur and executive Mary Lou Jepsen. She leads a startup called Openwater, which is developing a new kind of wearable imaging device that might one day enable communication by thoughts alone. Of course, there are nearer-term goals as well, such as supplementing (and even replacing) bulky, expensive MRI machines.

Xconomy has followed Jepsen’s work over the years—from her role as CTO of One Laptop Per Child, to senior executive positions at Google X and Facebook/Oculus. In this recent conversation, we focused... Read more »

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Introducing Xconomy Voices (Podcast), Episode 1: Mary Lou Jepsen

Thu, 06/22/2017 - 09:00

It’s always been Xconomy’s mission to reach audiences—both here on our website, and at our many live events around the country—with deep insights into the innovation process, divined from experts embedded in the world’s most important hubs of high-tech entrepreneurship.

And now we’re doing that in one more medium: podcasting.

I’m thrilled to be collaborating with my former colleagues at Xconomy on a new interview show called Xconomy Voices. Each episode brings you a timely, compelling, 15-minute conversation with a leading entrepreneur, innovator, or investor from one of Xconomy’s eleven cities and regions. We ask them what they’re working on, what... Read more »

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Cloudbeds Raises $9M to Expand its Technology, Brand Awareness

Thu, 06/22/2017 - 08:30

Cloudbeds, a cloud-based provider of hospitality management software, said today it has raised slightly more than $9 million in Series B financing to expand its software-as-a-service platform and broaden awareness of its brand.

The San Diego company describes the financing as its first institutional round, and said it brings total funding for the five-year-old startup to $20 million. PeakSpan Capital, a growth equity investor based in New York and Burlingame, CA, led the round, which included Nashville Capital, Cultivation Capital, ClearVision Equity, and TTCER Partners.

The company has developed software specifically for independently owned hotels, hostels, inns, campgrounds, and vacation rental... Read more »

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Repare Nabs $68M To Find Synthetic Lethal Cancer Targets Beyond PARP

Thu, 06/22/2017 - 06:00

The concept of synthetic lethality has been around for decades, but only recently has it been exploited for cancer therapy. The idea is to hit cancer cells in at least two places at once; the trick is to find the right combination of genetic mutations that make the cells vulnerable.

The newest company aiming to fight cancer with synthetic lethality is Repare Therapeutics, which today announced a $68 M Series A funding after more than 18 months in stealth. Repare can thank the early success of a class of drug called PARP inhibitors, which block an enzyme that cancer cells with... Read more »

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From Startup Week San Diego: The World According to Jason Calacanis

Thu, 06/22/2017 - 04:14

Silicon Valley angel investor Jason Calacanis has some advice for the millennial generation: Get your name on a cap table.

In a keynote talk Tuesday night that was a headliner event for Startup Week San Diego, Calacanis observed that it doesn’t feel like the millennial generation is doing as well financially as their parents’ generation. He warned the multi-generational audience that artificial intelligence is going to wipe out a huge swath of the kind of high-paying, white-collar jobs that Baby Boomers once strived for—jobs like business executives and radiologists.

“Now people graduate from college with $200,000 of debt,” Calacanis said. Homes... Read more »

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Alzheimer’s Drug Pipeline Analysis: Have We Hit Peak Amyloid?

Wed, 06/21/2017 - 07:30

A 2014 report provided a stark frame of reference for the challenge of fighting Alzheimer’s disease, showing that 99.6 percent of all drugs in the field had failed in one way or another.

Led by Jeffrey Cummings, director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, the same authors recently published a new report on the Alzheimer’s drug pipeline.

The failure rate has only gotten worse since 2014; there have been other significant developments, as well, not least of which is a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report showing that the death rate from Alzheimer’s has... Read more »

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Cybereason Gets $100M to Fend Off Cyber Attacks—and Competitors

Wed, 06/21/2017 - 02:00

Lior Div just raised a $100 million funding round for his security-tech company, Cybereason. A daunting task, to be sure.

“It’s very hard to raise money,” says Div, the company’s CEO and co-founder. “I see it all the time with colleagues of mine, founders. But if you really have a good, unique solution that’s proven, I believe people are more willing to put the money there.”

Div (pictured at center with his co-founders) had another advantage in this case: SoftBank, the Japanese tech giant that previously invested in Cybereason, footed the whole bill for the new deal. The Series D... Read more »

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Economic Study Ranks San Diego Near Top in Genomics Innovation

Tue, 06/20/2017 - 01:51

An economic impact study of San Diego’s emerging genomics industry counted 115 genomics-related companies operating in the region that directly employ over 10,000 people, and drive about $5.6 billion worth of annual economic benefits throughout the area.

“San Diego is really end-to-end in genomics, from start to finish,” said Kirby Brady, who oversaw the study as research director of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp. (EDC). “What that means is that we’re doing it all here, all the pieces of that ecosystem, and we’re doing it well.”

After previewing a glimpse of the study’s findings last month, Brady provided... Read more »

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Synthetic Genomics’ “Breakthrough” Algae Produces Twice as Much Oil

Mon, 06/19/2017 - 12:00

[Updated 6/19/17 1:17 pm. See below.] The San Diego biotech company Synthetic Genomics and supermajor ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM) said today they have successfully inserted a gene in a particular strain of algae that more than doubled its oil content without slowing down the algae’s rate of growth.

The two companies described the work in a statement as a “breakthrough in algae biofuel research.”

The research represents a significant step toward creating an algal strain that could produce green bio-crude oil at commercial scale, officials with both companies said at a press conference this morning, the first day of... Read more »

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Startup Pioneers EV-to-Grid Technology in Pilot at UC San Diego

Fri, 06/16/2017 - 19:36

Nuvve, a San Diego cleantech startup, has begun a pilot project with UC San Diego that is intended to demonstrate the feasibility of using electric vehicles as a kind of collective energy storage reservoir for the power grid.

After securing a $4.2 million grant from the California Energy Commission this week, Nuvve and UC San Diego said the company would install its “vehicle-to-grid” (V2G) charging system in 50 new EV chargers at UC San Diego. The San Diego campus operates its own micro-grid, and often serves as a test bed for innovations in renewable energy.

Nuvve and its partners, which... Read more »

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Bio Roundup: Trumpcare Is Mean, SCOTUS Says Go, Merck’s Myeloma No

Fri, 06/16/2017 - 04:00

What exactly does the American Health Care Act, the Republican proposal to replace Obamacare, currently look like? Few people know, because the Senate version is being negotiated behind closed doors in Washington D.C. without any public hearings.

We do know President Trump now thinks the version of the AHCA that squeaked through the House is “mean.” When he celebrated the House vote he called it “incredibly well crafted,” “really incredible,” and “ultimately a great plan.”

He’s not the only one with a change of heart. According to recent national polls, the AHCA doesn’t have majority support in any... Read more »

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Changes at UC San Diego Emphasize New Role as “Innovation Engine”

Thu, 06/15/2017 - 01:40

A new program intended to teach engineering and business students how to drive innovations from concept to commercialization reflects a new imperative at UC San Diego. The business of tech transfer, which generates revenue by licensing technologies invented at UC San Diego, is giving way to a broader mission for the university as an engine of innovation and as a training ground for entrepreneurs and startup leaders.

One example of the changes underway can be found with the Institute of the Global Entrepreneur (IGE), a program UC San Diego created about a year ago, just as the von Liebig Entrepreneurism... Read more »

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Patient Network Group Says Majority of Members Want To Keep Obamacare

Wed, 06/14/2017 - 17:05

A U.S. patient networking group called PatientsLikeMe has dipped its toe in the waters of public opinion, asking its members what they think of the healthcare policy fight. There are many caveats, but the numbers trend in the same direction that other national polls have found—a shift towards more acceptance of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, since Republicans began their attempts to dismantle the law.

The study is the second run since January by Cambridge, MA-based PatientsLikeMe, a privately held, for-profit company with an online network of more than 500,000 patients with 2,700 chronic diseases. Sally Okun,... Read more »

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Regulus Dumps Two Drugs, AstraZeneca Sends Back Another, Shares Fall

Mon, 06/12/2017 - 09:25

It’s been a tough run for Regulus Therapeutics, and things haven’t gotten any better this morning. Regulus is scrapping two programs, and AstraZeneca has kicked back a third drug to boot, sending Regulus shares down to their lowest levels ever.

San Diego, CA-based Regulus (NASDAQ: RGLS) said this morning that it will stop development of its most advanced treatment, RG-101, a microRNA treatment for hepatitis C, as well as preclinical drug, RGLS5040, for cholestatic liver disease. What’s more, British drugmaker AstraZeneca will terminate development of a drug, RG-125, for the liver disease nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, that it had licensed from Regulus... Read more »

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Dragonfly, Tyler Jacks’s Disney-Backed Startup, Gets $33M in Celgene Deal

Mon, 06/12/2017 - 08:55

Dragonfly Therapeutics, a stealthy startup formed by well-known cancer researchers on both coasts and backed by a high-powered group of family offices, has inked its first partnership. Celgene, of Summit, NJ, is paying Dragonfly $33 million up front for the chance to co-develop up to four blood cancer drugs.

The deal is a modest bet for Celgene (NASDAQ: CELG), which generates more than $11 billion a year, largely from lymphoma and multiple myeloma drugs, and has aligned itself with a slew of startups through creative partnerships over the years. But it’s the first stamp of validation for Cambridge, MA-based... Read more »

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