In past articles we’ve talked about startups that operate “in stealth mode”. Everyone usually gets excited when startups “exit stealth mode” because now that means the company is supposed to tell us about all the great things they’ve been working on for so long. When a company operates in stealth mode, they disclose as little information as possible about what they are working on in order to avoid letting competitors know about what they plan to unleash upon the market place.
So in what industries is “stealth mode” most prevalent? Using the CB Insights platform, we queried the over +165,000 companies in their database to see which industries currently have companies in stealth mode. Four industries matched our search; Healthcare, Internet, Mobile, and Software. We decided to take a look at 5 of the companies in the healthcare industry that are currently operating in stealth mode.
Founded by Stanford scientists in 2014, Alkahest is looking at taking blood from young people and giving it to old people in order to treat the cognitive decline in aging and other central nervous system disorders. The theory has been proven to work on mice, and now the Company needs to isolate the combination of elements in the blood which promote cognitive growth and then introduce them to human trials. Alkahest has taken in $50 million in funding so far. Grifols made an investment of $37.5 million for a 45% stake in Alkahest along with another $12.5 million R&D and certain commercial rights.
Founded in 2013, Mousera has taken in nearly $30 million in funding so far with their last Series A funding round closing in July of 2015. In a past article we wrote about Stemcentrx, a company backed by Peter Thiel which is using mice to isolate cancer stem cells. Peter Thiel is also funding Mousera which appears to have taken the “mouse method” used by Stemcentrx and decided that an entire company could be created around it. While caricatures of mice decorate the front page and logo, Mousera doesn’t even mention mice yet simply stating “Mousera empowers biomedical investigators with technology that accelerates the preclinical drug discovery and development pipeline“.
Apton Biosystems (no website)
Founded in 2012, this California based company has taken in around $7 million in funding so far. The CEO/CTO of the company, Bryan Staker, was previous Director of Hardware at Complete Genomics, a startup that had commercialized a DNA sequencing platform and was acquired in 2013 by BGI-Shenzhen, the world’s largest genomics services company. Also listed as a Director of Apton Biosystems is a gentleman by the name of Vijit Sabnis. Could it be this Vijit Sabnis who also happens to be a venture partner at Khosla Ventures? Khosla is one of the most high profile VCs around. The notion that they may have be backing a “stealth mode” startup is particularly ironic when you consider this blog post by Khosla Ventures which gives these 6 reasons why you should never be in stealth mode:
- Execution is more important than the idea;
- Someone else has the exact same idea anyway;
- Completely unique ideas generally don’t make it;
- The most likely cause of failure is your incompetence, not the competition;
- You desperately need real feedback;
- First mover advantage is just silliness.
Vivace Therapeutics (no website)
Founded in 2014, this California based startup has taken in $5 million so far from investors that include WuXi Ventures who describes the Company as developing “cancer therapeutics targeting a novel cancer pathway“. Based on their SEC filing, a gentleman named Sheng Ding is listed as an executive director. We’re guessing it’s this Sheng Ding, a leading expert in the field of stem cell research who also happens to be the cofounder of Fate Therapeutics and Stemgent. Based on his past experiences with stem cell startups, he’s probably cofounder of this one as well.
Cloudbreak Health (no website)
Truly operating in stealth mode, the only thing we could find out about this Columbus Ohio startup is that they filed for incorporation in the State of Ohio in June 2015 and took in $40.2 million from undisclosed investors. Everything there is to know about this Company can be found in this SEC Filing which tells us next to nothing except that Irv Edwards and James Edwards, both Directors of Cloudbreak, might be the two gentleman discussed in this article about Emergent Medical Associates. Now that’s how you truly operate in stealth mode.
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