Ambrx, one of the richest venture-backed biotech startups in San Diego, is looking for a new CEO. Steve Kaldor stepped down from the company’s top job the last day of June and the company is beginning to search for a replacement, Xconomy has learned.
Kaldor joined Ambrx in July 2007 after stints as the president and chief scientific officer at Takeda Pharmaceuticals’ operation, and as president and chief scientist at San Diego-based Syrrx. Ambrx didn’t issue a statement about the executive departure, but a spokeswoman for the company confirmed that Kaldor has left the company.
“Steve is taking some time off as he considers other options,” says Heidi Chokeir, a spokeswoman for Ambrx. Kaldor, along with the board, determined that it was time to find a different person to take the company forward, Chokeir says.
No interim CEO has been appointed, although Ambrx’s scientific founder and a member of its board, Peter Schultz, is expected to offer more advice, Chokeir says. Schultz, who has co-founded eight biotech companies in his career, will still maintain a full-time position as a scientist at The Scripps Research Institute, Chokeir says.
Ambrx was founded in 2003, and has since raised more than $106 million in venture capital. Its mission is to engineer protein drugs with new properties that can make them last longer in the blood, or carry potent cell-killing agents. The company has a roster full of big name partners like Pfizer, Merck, Eli Lilly, and Merck KGaA of Germany, who have pumped enough money into Ambrx so that it should be able to operate for “multiple years” without additional venture capital, Kaldor said in an interview last September. No significant changes have been made recently to any of the partnerships, Chokeir says.
Ambrx’s two best-known drug candidates are designed to be longer-lasting versions of protein drugs that treat growth deficiencies and multiple sclerosis. The company lists 10 different drug development programs in its pipeline at various stages of clinical or preclinical development. None of those candidates are in the third and final stage of clinical trials required before a drug can win FDA approval, which generates the most value to investors.