Epizyme Grabs $32M, A123 Systems’ IPO Enriches BU, & More Boston-Area Deals News

10/12/09

It’s a nice change from previous weeks this year to be writing about IPOs and big exits for venture firms. At least in Boston and environs, big paydays for investors and entrepreneurs seemed to be materializing. And startups from a variety of innovation sectors secured capital to fuel their movement toward hoped-for exits.

Not sure which transactions we’re talking about? Here’s our weekly roundup of Boston-area deals news:

Boston University apparently made a wise bet on A123Systems when it accepted equity in lieu of cash for office rent in 2002 from the then-fledgling startup. Sources told Bob that BU’s stake in Watertown, MA-based A123 has become significantly more valuable since the developer of next-generation lithium-ion battery systems completed its IPO last month. Base the company’s (NASDAQ:AONE) share price last week, BU’s stake in the firm was estimated to be worth more than $12 million.

Gomez, the Lexington, MA-based provider of performance-management software for Web and mobile applications, gave its investors something to smile about this week. The company accepted a $295 million buyout offer from Canada’s Compuware (NASDAQ:CPWR). The buyout appears to provide a nice exit to the venture firms—ABS Ventures, AdAstra, Dolphin Equity Partners, and Doughty Hanson & Company—who have backed Gomez over the past decade.

Nashua, NH-based eCopy is also going the way of the M&A exit. Burlington, MA-based Nuance Communications (NASDAQ:NUAN) said it has paid $54 million in stock to acquire eCopy and the firm’s printer software for image scanning and indexing. For Nuance, this deal appears to be another in a line of acquisitions that include its buyouts of Seattle-based voice-to-text firm Jott this summer and texting software company Zi, of Alberta, Canada, earlier in the year.

On the life sciences front, Cambridge, MA-based Epizyme took in $32 million in a Series B round of venture capital to fund development of its drugs in the field of epigenetics. San Francisco-based Bay City Capital led the round, which included founding venture backers MPM Capital and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, as well as newer investors Amgen Ventures and Astellas Venture Partners. Luke noted that Epizyme could be looking more broadly than its main focus on cancer therapies.

There was more talk about the potential for Cambridge, MA-based Alnylam Pharmaceuticals to spin off some of its gene-silencing technology into a new startup, like it did with Regulus Therapeutics back in 2007. Barry Greene, president and chief operating officer of Alnylam, talked about a potential “Regulus-like” deal at the MassBio Investors Forum in Boston, where we picked up some other bits of deals news from biotech startups such as Waltham, MA-based EyeGate Pharma and Cambridge’s Cequent Pharmaceuticals.

We try to leave no stones unturned in this shop. Last week Lebanon, NH-based antibody discovery firm Adimab made headlines because Google Ventures led its fourth-round financing. Adimab CEO Tillman Gerngross declined to tell me how much money was raised in the round, but this week Luke learned from an SEC filing that Adimab raised $8.2 million in the round.

On the smaller side of the deals scale, Farmington, CT-based LegiTime Technologies reported in an SEC filing that it has raised $1.5 million in equity financing. The company is developing software products that organize and secure SMS text messages on mobile phones. Its backers include Connecticut Innovations, which invests in startups in the Nutmeg State, and Montreal’s iNovia Capital.

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