Calypso Medical Cuts 36 Jobs To Save Cash

Xconomy Seattle — 

Seattle-based Calypso Medical Technologies has cut 36 jobs, or about one-fifth of its workforce, to conserve cash during the economic downturn. Calypso didn’t issue a press release, but CEO Eric Meier gave me the bad news this morning in a phone call.

Calypso’s management and board made the cuts effective immediately, Meier says. It means the company will be left with about 160 employees. The layoffs will force Calypso to delay some of its long-range development programs to enhance its system for pinpointing radiation treatment for cancer patients, which it markets as “GPS for the Body.” The cuts shouldn’t damage its ability to sell its machines, support customer service, or alter partnership talks, Meier says.

“We recognize the capital markets are tough, and we’re not yet profitable,” Meier says. “We wanted to take prudent action to make sure the company is well-positioned for current and long-term success.”

Calypso’s device is designed to make sure that beams of radiation are aimed exclusively at cancerous prostate glands, without harming healthy tissue nearby. The machine is designed to monitor movement of the prostate in real-time, meaning if a patient burps or twitches on the table, technicians can see if beams are falling off track, damaging healthy tissues like the bladder. That means technicians will likely turn off the machine or adjust the table, which could save the patient from impotence or having to wear adult diapers.

The technology is used at some top U.S. hospitals, like Cleveland Clinic and the University of Michigan, but it isn’t cheap. It costs $400,000 to $500,000, plus $1,200 for implantable transponders placed in every patient. I’m pretty sure that’s a price tag that makes hospitals gulp hard when budgets are tight.

Calypso has already raised more than $125 million from venture capitalists since its founding in 1999. When I profiled the company in June, Meier said he was planning to raise more cash to finance its growth. When I asked if he’s still trying to do that in today’s economic climate, Meier would only say that the cuts are designed to make sure the company is well-positioned in a bad economic climate.

We’ve added this layoff to our tracker. Click here to see a detailed list of Seattle technology and life sciences companies cutting jobs.