iPierian, Stem Cell Startup With Big Science & Big Bucks, Axes Group of Top Executives

5/13/11Follow @xconomy

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in a telephone interview last night. Venuti was in advanced talks with one Big Pharma company, negotiating a term sheet, when the board made a decision to dismiss the CEO, Walker said.

“At that point, the board decided it wanted a different strategy for the company,” Walker said.

Walker is not a member of the board, and was not a part of the deliberations that led to the management terminations, but he said he maintains an advisory relationship to iPierian.

The new strategy, Walker said, is for iPierian to reduce the number of scientific programs it is pursuing, and reduce its cash burn rate, in order to position itself for an acquisition.

Van Vlasselaer, iPerian’s new CEO, has a successful track record as an entrepreneur, having most recently sold Arresto Biosciences to Foster City, CA-based Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ: GILD) for $225 million. He is now the fifth CEO to lead iPierian since it was founded three years ago. The others were Thane Kreiner, Seidenberg (on an interim basis), Walker, and Venuti. Walker, for his part, said he left the company a year ago because he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, adding that his health issue has now been resolved.

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