I missed the announcement last Summer on Christian Henry’s move to PacBio as their new President & CEO, taking over from Mike Hunkapiller who recently retired – these are some big boots to fill!
Christian was was previously Illumina EVP and CFO, having held the CFO role from 2005 to 2017 i.e. through a 2000% increase in stock price going from $7 to $140 (seems cheap now!). PacBio was an Illumina acquisition target in 2019, which was ultimately unsuccessful due to the UK’s CMA blocking the deal. At the time there was lots of discussion about whether the takeover would be good or bad for PacBio and their customers (you can read what I said here and here).
Also joining the PacBio management team are Mark Van Oene (COO) and Peter Fromen (CCO) both ex-Illumina execs from the earliest days of their growth (I think they both joined just after the Solexa acquisition) who bring significant commercial experience in genomics. Most recently Peter was leading the Genomics England collaboration for Illumina.
The announcements at JPMorgan (see GenomeWeb coverage) showed what PacBio’s ambitions are, particularly a new clinical whole-genome sequencing instrument being developed in collaboration with Invitae. And the stock market has responded well to this recent news with PACB going from a low of $5 a year ago to a high of $40.
At AGBT 2017 Jonas Korlach made big claims about SMRTcell yield increases, which were set to jump 32x. They delivered then. And I’m looking forward to seeing what PACB can deliver next.