Every month, MassBio spotlights a member company and its efforts in advancing the life sciences industry and supporting the patients we serve. In January, while we were in San Francisco for J.P. Morgan, we spoke with Geoff Meyerson, the co-founder and CEO of Locust Walk. Locust Walk is a global investment bank that integrates corporate development strategy and execution with capital raising for innovative life science companies. Geoff brings a track record of success in investment banking, venture capital and licensing where he has closed >60 transactions of all varieties including playing a role in a majority of Locust Walk’s closed transactions. Geoff is also the founder and President of an exclusive non-profit organization focused on building relationships within the life science sector, called BioBreak.
The following is an edited version of a conversation MassBio CEO and President Kendalle Burlin O’Connell had with Geoff during the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference. You full interview is embedded above.
Kendalle: Tell us a little about Locust Walk.
Geoff: We started Locust Walk fifteen years ago in the fall of 2008. We help biotech companies with their strategy; with deal making and fundraising. We’ve been doing that for 15 years. We are headquartered in Boston, but we have offices in New York, San Francisco, and Tokyo. And we work with companies from startups all the way through large pharma.
Kendalle: I know you’re really focused particularly on supporting our emerging biotech community. We have a lot of synergy there and we certainly know that 2023 was an interesting year. We saw some positive momentum happening in the second half of the year, particularly in the last few months of the year. And what we know about the Massachusetts life science ecosystem is we’re usually the last ones to be impacted by a market reset and the first one’s out. So tell me a little bit about why you think Massachusetts, Boston, Cambridge is so unique in that.
Geoff: Well, Massachusetts is amazing. My family and I moved to Boston in 2011 because we just had to be where all the action was. And little did I know when I moved there how dynamic it was going to be. We’ve seen 2023 being a fairly challenging year across the board, especially for private companies, especially public companies that are not yet through phase two proof of concept. They’ve had some challenges. And the M&A for most of the year was focused on commercial stage deals, but we’ve actually started to see some earlier stage M&A happen. The IPO market is maybe picking up. We’ve seen some filings. So we’re hopeful that 2024 will be a better year than ‘23. That’s my prognosis. I don’t think good times are rolling again just yet. We’re not going to get back to ‘20 or ‘21 levels, but I do think ‘24 will be a better year.
Kendalle: We told you that we’re here at JP Morgan. Tons of activity happening. We saw a little bit of M&A happening this morning. Tell me what you’d like to see out of this conference this year to go into a healthy first half of 2024.
Geoff: Well, I like to hear the optimism from the people who are actually making the deals. We’re seeing investors a little more interested in making investments. We’re seeing pharma companies who are really wanting to engage. We want to start the year off right. I think we’ve found that you don’t need big M&A at JP Morgan itself to make the year a success. I think the Seagen deal last year happened at least a month after JPM. So I think we want to see the parties hopping. We want to see people having good meetings. We want to see people with positive vibes. I do think that we’re on the right track. We hit bottom. I think I’m calling the bottom, end of October, early November last year. And as I said, we’re going to move back up, but it’s going to take time. I think in the next couple weeks we’ll see some more IPOs. And again, we’re not necessarily going to see all the signs just from this conference, but in the next weeks and months, I think we’ll start to see a little more momentum.
Kendalle: Geoff, I want to thank you and the entire Locus Walk team. You’ve been such an amazing member of MassBio. You do so much for our ecosystem and our community. We had an awesome event that your team hosted to educate around funding in December. You’ll play a huge role in what we’re doing at the Align Summit in April. Stay tuned for that.
About Locust Walk:
Locust Walk is a global investment bank that integrates corporate development strategy and execution with capital raising for innovative life science companies of all stages. We partner with founders, executives, and board members through all aspects of corporate development across company, asset, and deal lifecycles. Through our extensive market intelligence interfacing with investors, large pharma, biotechs, and academic leaders, we have a deep understanding of how science and data translates into actionable transactions and business strategy.
About Locust Walk’s Guide to Raising Capital and Retaining Ownership course:
Guide to Raising Capital and Retaining Ownership is a first-of-its-kind course to teach biotech entrepreneurs how to level the playing field when getting their company off the ground. It is designed for first-time CEOs who want to know the ropes on how to start a company, serial CEOs who have never started a company without venture capital on board from the outset, scientific inventors who want to play an important role in the realization of their innovation, and those who want to know what it takes to successfully navigate the company creation maze.
To receive information on future course offerings, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.