Ginkgo lands on NYSE via SPAC merger, gaining $2.5B to fuel growth

Ginkgo
People working at one of Ginkgo Bioworks' facilities (Ginkgo Bioworks)

Ginkgo Bioworks is set to go public through a $2.5 billion merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). The deal, which involves Arie Belldegrun and sets the company's pre-money valuation at $15 billion, will generate proceeds to support Ginkgo’s efforts to engineer cells to enable new product development.

Boston-based Ginkgo set up shop in 2008 to develop a platform that makes it easier to engineer cells. In its early years, Ginkgo applied the platform to a wide range of areas outside of pharma, such as perfumes and pesticides. As Ginkgo raised more money privately, it began to further explore the use of the platform in the drug sector, culminating in pharma and biotech becoming a key industry.

Now, Ginkgo, which lists Moderna and Roche among its collaborators, has secured money to fund the next stage of its evolution. The SPAC, Soaring Eagle Acquisition Corp., already has $1.7 billion from its IPO. Ginkgo is set to raise a further $775 million through a private placement. 

Bellco Capital, led by ex-Kite Pharma CEO Belldegrun, is co-sponsoring the transaction and putting money into the private placement. Belldegrun will join the board of directors at Ginkgo as part of the transaction.

In a statement, Belldegrun said he is getting involved “with the hope of expanding use of Ginkgo's state-of-the-art technology to assist biopharma companies and expedite drug development.”  

Ginkgo set out some of the biopharma applications of its platform in a presentation about the SPAC merger. The presentation lists antibody therapeutic development, nucleic acid vaccine production, antibiotic discovery and manufacturing, microbiome therapeutics, and gene and cell therapies as areas in which the platform can be used. Ginkgo also still works with other industries. 

Across all industries, Ginkgo expects to generate revenues of $150 million this year, up almost 100% over 2020. The potential revenue ceiling for the company is far higher, given the potential for its cell technology to reshape how products are developed and manufactured across multiple industries. 

As a public company, Ginkgo will need to share more information as it works toward that ceiling. The process of greater disclosure began with the merger, which revealed that its sales are “concentrated in a limited number of customers, some of which are related parties” and warned that the novelty of Ginkgo’s technology means it may face skepticism.  

Editor's note: The original version of this story said Ginkgo will list on Nasdaq. The SPAC is currently listed on Nasdaq, but Ginkgo has chosen to list on the New York Stock Exchange when the deal closes.

This story has also been updated to clarify the $2.5 billion in proceeds expected from the merger, as well as the company's pre-money valuation of $15 billion. It previously said the merger was worth $17.5 billion.