Ex-CEO of 54gene launches Syndicate Bio, another genomics startup

Former co-founder and CEO of 54gene, Abasi Ene-Obong has co-founded another genomics startup, Syndicate Bio.

Ex-CEO of 54gene launches Syndicate Bio, another genomics startup
Abasi Ene-Obong, co-founder and CEO of Syndicate Bio 

Abasi Ene-Obong, former co-founder and CEO of African genomics startup, 54gene, on Monday announced the launch of his new venture, Syndicate Bio—another genomics company.

"After a few months in stealth mode, I am happy to say that we have started Syndicate Bio to empower inclusive advancements in global genomics science," Ene-Obong said in a LinkedIn post. According to him, Syndicate Bio will drive genomics and precision medicine initiatives across the world’s most diverse regions, starting from Africa.

Abasi Ene-Obong's LinkedIn page shows that Syndicate Bio has been in stealth since March 2023, he also co-founded the startup alongside; Jumi Popoola, who is the chief scientific officer and Estelle Dogbo, the chief operating officer.

"At Syndicate Bio, we use large-scale partnerships with governments, pharma companies, academia, and other stakeholders to drive local precision medicine impact while creating powerful datasets that can be used for drug discovery and development," he added. While at 54gene, he awarded scholarships to four African doctoral candidates to advance genomics research on the continent.

"In the coming months, we will be sharing some of the great strides made in furtherance of our vision and mission, says Ene-Obong.

Inside Ene-Obong's resignation from 54gene

Last year, Ene-Obong resigned from his role as the CEO of 54gene, a startup he founded in 2019 to close the gap in the global genomics market where less than 3% of genetic material used in pharmaceutical research is African. "Nearly a year ago, I resigned from a company I founded and loved dearly. I chose not to fan the flames of speculation and quietly retreated to refocus on the bigger picture," he said.

Although the reason for his resignation was undisclosed, Ene-Obong was previously accused of financial misconduct, but the allegations have remained unproven. However, he left the YC-backed genomics startup at a time when it was faced with the challenges of the economic downturn leading to the layoff of about 95 employees; mostly contract staff (in labs and sales departments) recruited to work in 54gene's COVID business line launched in 2020.

In 2020, 54gene saw an opportunity to make additional revenue during the pandemic as it turned its lab capabilities and re-positioned itself to conduct COVID-19 testing, which spiked in Africa when the company closed its $15 million Series A round. It was a big part of the company's operation; at some point, 54gene was one of Nigeria’s largest providers of COVID testing.

Since its launch, 54gene has raised about $45 million. Last year, the startup's valuation was slashed by over $100 million, according to TechCrunch. However, the YC-backed company was listed as one of the accelerator's top companies in 2023, which implies that it is still valued at over $150 million. 

In March, 54gene appointed Ron Chiarello as its new CEO, with the responsibility to raise more funding so as to keep the company afloat. However, the startup closed its operations in July.

This is a developing story

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