Former Cubist CEO Mike Bonney Joins Third Rock Ventures

Xconomy Boston — 

As CEO of Cubist Pharmaceuticals, Mike Bonney spent a decade building a mid-cap biotech company that eventually accepted a massive buyout.

Now he’ll be helping start new companies from scratch. Bonney (pictured) has joined Boston-based Third Rock Ventures, which specializes in launching startups in cutting-edge areas of biomedicine. Third Rock also tends to start companies, either on its own or with a handful of other investors, with tens of millions of dollars in early financing. One recent example is Revolution Medicines, launched from Third Rock’s San Francisco office with a $45 million Series A round to make it easier to turn chemicals found in nature into drugs for humans.

Bonney joins the firm as a partner. It’s his first full time gig since stepping down from Cubist at the end of 2014. He joined Cubist in 2002.

While his Cubist work focused on steering an ever-expanding ship, he knows a bit about early stage investing. Last year, Bonney put angel funds in a Cambridge, MA, startup called X4 Pharmaceuticals, which Xconomy wrote about here.

Cubist became profitable off of daptomycin in 2007, which the company bought from Eli Lilly well before Bonney joined. It invested some of those profits in its own antibiotic discovery efforts, but in its later years much of the revenue stream flowing into dealmaking to diversify the pipeline. Cubist co-marketed the clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea treatment fidaxomicin (Dificid) with Optimer Pharmaceuticals via a licensing deal, but took all the drug’s rights when it bought Optimer in 2013. The company acquired Trius Therapeutics on the same day, grabbing tedizolid phosphate (Sivextro), which is approved to treat skin infections caused by susceptible gram-positive bacteria.

If Bonney is on board to mentor antibiotics developers among Third Rock’s portfolio companies, Revolution could be one candidate. The company is first proving its technology by rewiring an antifungal compound.

Bonney’s CEO experience was likely attractive to Third Rock, whose partners typically work as interim CEOs for the companies they launch, then cycle back into the firm after a year or two. And with ample public market experience, Bonney might be a candidate to run a Third Rock company on a permanent basis. Several companies in the firm’s portfolio went public during the biotech bull run.