'Third Rock forever': Firm's latest $1.1B funding round will create 10 new biotechs

Third Rock Ventures just closed out a massive $1.1 billion fund, bringing its total raised over the last 15 years to an eye-popping $3.8 billion—and the firm has no plans to slow down.  

“We believe in a mentality of Third Rock forever,” partner and Chief Operating Officer Kevin Gillis told Fierce Biotech in an interview. 

Third Rock Ventures

Since its founding in 2007, the healthcare venture firm has invested in 60 companies, including the likes of Sage Therapeutics, Editas Medicine, Constellation Pharmaceuticals and Flare Therapeutics. Its newest addition is lysine-targeted covalency platform developer Terremoto; its $75 million series A funding round in May was co-led by Third Rock.

Now, the Boston venture firm will use its sixth fund to create 10 new biotechs, though Gillis didn’t go into specifics about what kind of companies they’re looking to build. On average, Third Rock plans to launch about three new biotechs a year, writing series A paychecks to start their creations off on the right foot. 

The firm has used its last three funds exclusively for developing new biotechs, and new company creation is a signature of Third Rock, according to partner Jeffrey Tong, Ph.D.

That’s only one portion of the $1.1 billion though. The newest and sixth fund provides Third Rock the opportunity to do something it hasn’t before—hand out both initial series A paychecks as well as follow-on capital to support biotechs throughout their life cycle. For example, the firm intends to partake in upcoming series B rounds for Abata Therapeutics and Flare Therapeutics later this year, according to Gillis. 

A third and final funding sleeve will be reserved for what Third Rock deems “special opportunities,” including working with biotechs that align with Third Rock’s mission and approach.  

Third Rock Ventures

With a lodestar of advancing disruptive areas of science and medicine, the firm currently fosters a discovery pipeline of about 15 to 20 projects spanning a wide range of therapeutic areas, Tong said. These programs range from traditional small-molecule drugs, antibodies and proteins, to cell and gene therapies. Tong credits such a broad pipeline to the firm’s 75-person team filled with scientists, entrepreneurs and former C-suite executives.

To date, companies tied to Third Rock have brought 18 products to market, with the most recent in April, when the FDA okayed Camzyos for symptomatic obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. The drug was at the heart of Bristol Myers Squibb’s $13.1 billion acquisition of MyoKardia—of which Third Rock was an initial investor—back in 2020.   

As for the industry’s prolonged bear market—which has forced over 20 biotechs to lay off staff since April—Third Rock's leaders aren’t too concerned. 

Noting the cyclic nature of the market, the macro trend for the next 10 years and beyond still looks up, according to Tong, who pointed to high unmet clinical needs and a pharmaceutical industry that now relies on young biotech companies as a source of innovation. 

“We're not rattled,” Gillis said of the market, pointing to Third Rock’s 15-year resilience. Even as the markets get rocky, the venture firm expects to remain solid.