Science: A Genetic Engineering Startup in Boston

The Story:

Ginkgo Bioworks went public this month in a multi-billion dollar offering that typifies the new centrality of gene engineering to the U.S. economy. The company — founded thirteen years ago at a time of global financial crisis — now trades on the New York Stock Exchange with the apt ticker symbol “DNA.”


Synthetic biology startups as a group raised more than $8 billion last year (2020) from venture capitalists and public offerings combined. This was more than twice what they had raised in 2019. They are on track to raise $30 billion or more in 2021.

Ginkgo takes a step back from this broad trend. If this is a gold rush, Ginkgo is the entrepreneur selling the would-be miners maps to the most promising fields. It offers what a writer at Axios has aptly called a “souped-up research platform for the entire synthetic biology industry, akin to what Amazon Web Services has been able to do for tech startups.”

Strange New Worlds:

The company’s revenue in 2020 was just $77 million. It is projecting revenue of $1.1 billion in 2025. Of course a company’s own projections can be rosy, but much of Wall Street is taking this seriously. DNA is one of the holdings in the ARK Innovation ETF.

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