Boston investment firm Third Rock Ventures LLC has raised $426 million for its second (oversubscribed) fund and is opening a San Francisco office to continue its practice of "launching and supporting transformative life sciences companies."
"We are grateful for the strong support for our model, and the significant interest from our existing and new investors," said Kevin Starr, a Third Rock Ventures partner, in a press release.
Founded in 2007 with a $378 million fund, Third Rock has invested in 15 life sciences companies, including Constellation Pharmaceuticals (gene-repair therapies), Agios Pharmaceuticals (cancer metabolism) and Zafgen (obesity therapies). The fund’s first three investments — all in Cambridge, Mass. — were named to FierceBiotech’s Fierce 15 (PDF) a year ago.
The fund has had at least one exit. Alnara Pharmaceuticals, a Cambridge company that is developing protein therapies for metabolic diseases, was acquired by Eli Lilly & Co. in July for an initial $180 million and up to $200 million more in milestone payments.
Constellation Pharmaceuticals closed a $22 million B-round fund-raise in June. And Third Rock invested in Rhythm (another peptide therapy developer for metabolic diseases, this one based in Boston) during its $40 million Series A round a week ago.
One of Third Rock’s distinctions is creating partnerships with entrepreneurs, researchers and company founders "to pursue bold ideas and groundbreaking science that promise to dramatically improve the lives of patients," Starr said. The investment firm’s portfolio companies "were formed around disruptive areas of science and medicine, and many were developed as part of Third Rock’s unique company discovery process," he said.
Third Rock must be doing things right. In addition to raising more investment commitments than it needed, the firm is expanding its staff, promoting Alexis Borisy as partner from entrepreneur-in-residence and hiring Dr. Charles Homcy (formerly CEO of Portola Pharmaceuticals) as venture partner to lead the San Francisco office.
The firm also added David Armistead, formerly chief scientific officer of CGI Pharmaceuticals, and Chris Varma (formerly with Flagship Ventures) as entrepreneurs in residence. Meanwhile, former Third Rock partner Nick Leschly left to become president and CEO of portfolio company bluebird bio, which recently changed its name from Genetix Pharmaceuticals.