Atlas’ I-O startup Surface names CEO with IPO experience

Surface Oncology has named Jeff Goater as its CEO. Goater landed the post with a résumé that lists a starring role in Voyager Therapeutics’ IPO and a decade in investment banking among its highlights. 

Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Surface emerged in 2015 with $35 million from a syndicate featuring Atlas Venture, Amgen Ventures, Lilly Ventures, F-Prime, New Enterprise Associates and Novartis. Surface lured Detlev Biniszkiewicz, Ph.D. from AstraZeneca to serve as its CEO shortly thereafter. But Biniszkiewicz quietly exited the role sometime in the past six months, leaving executive chairman Daniel Lynch in charge on an interim basis. Biniszkiewicz remains a director. 

Surface has identified Goater as Biniszkiewicz’s permanent successor. Goater joined Surface as chief business officer one year ago. Prior to that, Goater was part of the founding leadership team at Voyager, where he was involved with the $845 million Sanofi deal and $73 million IPO. Earlier in his career, Goater worked on Wall Street for a decade.

The upshot is Surface is closing in on the start of its first clinical trial helmed by a executive who is well versed in the financial and business development aspects of the industry. By the standards of the red-hot immuno-oncology sector, Surface has cut a relatively low public profile on those fronts, with only the $35 million series A and hookup with Novartis to its name.

With Surface pushing CD47 and CD73 programs through the final stages of preclinical development, that looks set to change shortly. In Goater, Surface thinks it has the right person to lead it through this period. 

“During our extensive search process, it became apparent that we already had the right person for the job internally. Jeff has the strategic vision, leadership qualities and capabilities to lead Surface as we look to rapidly advance our portfolio,” Lynch said in a statement.