Tempus, Eric Lefkofsky’s Chicago-based genomic-testing, cancer-fighting data analytics startup recently announced that it has raised another $110 million in funding.
The contributions from both new and existing investors have raised the company’s valuation and nearly doubled it to a total of $2 billion. The deal includes new investor Baillie Gifford, a Scottish investment fund as well as familiar backers T. Rowe Price and venture funds Revolution Growth, a Washington, D.C.-based venture capital firm headed by AOL founder Steve Case, and New Enterprise Associates.
With Tempus, Lefkofsky has built a platform that focuses on collecting, structuring and analyzing molecular and clinical data. Founded in 2015, the startup is building the world’s largest library of ‘real world’ cancer patient data that contains combined clinical and molecular information.
Tempus captures the molecular data at its own Next-Generation sequencing lab, which offers a series of assays, including Tempus xT, a targeted 595 gene panel, Tempus xO, an onco-seq panel of 1714 genes, Tempus xE, whole exome sequencing, and, Tempus xF, a liquid biopsy . Physicians that collaborate with Tempus have access to its database and are thereby able to make more informed and personalized treatment decisions. Tempus’ ultimate goal is for each patient to benefit from the treatment of others who came before.
The recent surge in funding comes after a previous round in March of this year that raised $80 million and resulted in Tempus becoming one of few of Chicago’s “unicorns,” which is a term that refers to a privately held company valued at $1 billion or more. The amount that Tempus has raised to date sums up to roughly $320 million.
The contributions have enabled Tempus’ rapid growth and expansion. Its staff is nearing 500 employees, at a rate of 20 to 30 new individuals per month.
Lefkofsky did not anticipate Tempus’ growth to be quite as rapid. According to him, “Three years ago, we were hoping get one or two academic medical centers to work with us. Today we work over 50 of the 69 major (National Cancer Institute)-designated cancer centers. One in four cancer patients in the U.S. touch Tempus in some way.”
Tempus’ expansion has also lead to a recent move into a larger space at 600 W. Chicago Ave. While Lefkofsky declines to go into specific figures, he says Tempus has become one of the largest gene-sequencing providers in the country. “In general, we’re now sequencing tens of thousands of patients. We hope to shortly be sequencing hundreds of thousands of patients. Clinicians are getting these tests. They’re using it as an important tool in prescribing therapeutic treatments for patients,” he states.
Lefkofsky states that, “We’re in a period of rapid growth and acceleration. This capital allows us to lean into that. It also will allow us to look more broadly than just cancer in the United States.” “We’ve begun to think about Europe, Asia and Australia, and how our model would extend there. We’ll be cautious in any step we take. These tools and our lab are operating at scale, so we feel like we’re in a unique position to extend our platform into other areas,” he adds.
“We consider it a real positive that people who invest with us want to continue to invest with us over and over. They do look at each opportunity to decide how much they want to invest.”
Tempus is one of several ventures Lefkofsky has founded. The Chicago-based entrepreneur also co-founded Groupon, a global e-commerce marketplace platform, Echo Global Logistics, a technology-enabled transportation and logistics outsourcing firm, InnerWorkings, a global provider of managed print and promotional solutions, Lightbank, a venture fund focusing on disruptive technologies and Mediaocean, a media procurement technologies provider. Each business model is similar in that it focuses on using scale and organization in addressing problems that have been traditionally solved on an ad hoc basis.
Lefkofsky is author of Accelerated Disruption: Understanding the True Speed of Innovation, in which he discusses several critical startup concepts as well as business development evolving at the speed of the next technological innovation. He has also held teaching positions at the Kellstadt Graduate School of Business at DePaul University as well as at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. He is currently an adjunct professor at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.
Lefkofsky is also an avid philanthropist. Together with his wife, he founded the Lefkofsky Family Foundation in 2006. Its primary aim is the advancement of high-impact initiatives in education, fundamental human rights, medicine, art and culture that enhance lives in the communities that are served. The two are also members of The Giving Pledge. Lefkofsky is on the board of trustees of the Lurie’s Children’s Hospital of Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Museum of Science and Industry and World Business Chicago. He is also the Chairman of the Chicago-based Board of Trustees of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company.
For more information on Tempus, please visit tempus.com, Facebook: @TempusLabs and Twitter: @TempusLabs. For more information on Eric Lefkofsky, please visit lefkofsky.com, LinkedIn: ericlefkofsky