Ex-trailblazer Knome accepts buyout bid from tiny Tute

Tute Genomics has acquired Knome for an undisclosed fee. The deal brings to an end Knome's 8-year, $20 million attempt to find a place for itself in the emerging genomics industry, during which time it sequenced the DNA of the super rich, branched out into hardware and created the interpretation software that attracted Tute.

Former Tute CSO David Mittelman

While the struggle to find a focus means it is unlikely anyone got rich from backing Knome--Xconomy calculates the company raised $23 million over the past 8 years, yet Tute was able to finance the deal without debt having only received $5.4 million in investment--the process led to the creation of software with some attractive features. David Mittelman, an adviser to Tute, told Bio-IT World the software's ability to perform complex comparisons of samples is a primary motivator for the deal. Mittelman also sees Knome's code helping Tute scale up its activities to handle thousands of genomes.

Having brought in capabilities that Tute sees as complementary to its existing platform, the company is now working to mesh the two offerings. "Our first mission is to integrate knoSYS into our cloud product," Mittelman, who served as CSO of Tute until August, said. Knome has bet against the cloud in recent years, introducing hardware in 2012 that allowed researchers and physicians to analyze data without information leaving their facility. Tute has a different outlook. "Bringing Knome to the cloud, I think, is a big win for Knome and for us," Mittelman said.

George Church

For Knome, the deal means that one of the fruits of its labors will continue to influence the advance of genomics, despite the company never living up to expectations that it would become a long-term leader in the industry. "They tried high-end [personal], research, clinical, and box businesses," George Church, who helped to set up Knome, told Xconomy. "[Knome was] probably just too early." The initial focus of Knome, selling DNA sequencing and analysis to individuals for $350,000, could be seen as a precursor to the high-end services now offered by J. Craig Venter's Human Longevity, Inc.

Whatever the reasons, there are those that think Knome is likely to be one of many genomics players to accept buyout bids. "This market is highly fragmented and will likely continue to undergo consolidation," Paul Enever, a Knome board member, said.

- read Xconomy's take
- here's Bio-IT World's piece
- and the release