We are proud of the innovations and commercial successes of our portfolio companies. Following are a few of the firms in which WRF Capital has played an active role.
Alder Biopharmaceuticals, based in Bothell, WA, followed its 2014 initial public offering with clinical trials success in 2015.
Alder’s lead drug, ALD403, is a preventive treatment for chronic migraines. In Phase 2 trials, up to 41 percent of patients reported an end to their migraines, with a single dose providing effective treatment for up to six months. Phase 2b trials were also completed, and Phase 3 trials were initiated for further testing in 600 patients.
Clazakizumab (formerly ALD518), Alder’s treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, successfully completed Phase 2 trials during the year. Randall Schatzman, Alder’s CEO, told CNBC that in a head-to-head trial with bestselling drug HUMIRA, clazakizumab led to remission for more patients.
CNBC’s Jim Cramer described Alder as targeting “gigantic unmet needs” in the treatment of migraines and rheumatoid arthritis.
WRF Capital received one of the largest returns in its history through the sale of its shares in Alder, using the proceeds to fund its grant programs and future local investments.
Fred Hutch spinout Juno Therapeutics is building a biopharmaceutical company focused on re-engaging the body’s immune system to revolutionize the treatment of cancer. Using human cells as therapeutic entities, Juno is developing cell-based cancer immunotherapies based on chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) and high-affinity T cell receptor (TCR) technologies to genetically engineer T cells to recognize and eliminate cancer.
Juno’s late-2014 initial public offering was followed by a number of major breakthroughs in 2015 and 2016. WRF Capital’s investment in Juno resulted in one of its largest-ever returns on investment. These funds provide additional support for WRF's grant-making and investment programs.
Redmond, Washington–based Pacific Bioscience Laboratories (PBL) produces the Clarisonic Skin Cleansing System, a range of devices that use sonic waves to enable users to achieve healthier, younger-looking skin. Launched in 2004, the products had exceeded $100M in annual sales within six years. Endorsements from celebrities including Oprah Winfrey, Cameron Diaz and Justin Timberlake provided excellent publicity for the Clarisonic product line.
Pacific Bioscience was acquired by L’Oréal USA in 2011. PBL remains in Redmond and its management team has stayed intact. David Giuliani, PBL’s co-founder and CEO, was also the inventor and primary developer of the Sonicare toothbrush. Royal Philips Electronics purchased Sonicare’s manufacturer, Optiva, in 2000.
Farecast spawned from a 2003 research project led by University of Washington professor Oren Etzioni and financed by WRF Capital. With several of his students, Etzioni studied airfare price movements and applied data-mining and machine-learning techniques to assess their predictability. The resulting technology platform was the basis for Farecast, which empowered consumers to buy airline tickets at the cheapest time.
Farecast received seed funding from WRF Capital, among others, and recruited Hugh Crean as its CEO. The company expanded its range of products to include hotel rate predictors and trip-planning tools, winning several awards in the process. Farecast was acquired by Microsoft in 2008.