Bill Gates, through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has been donating money for years in health and education programs to try to solve numerous seemingly intractable problems in those areas, in the United States and the developing world.
Yes, some disagree with Bill Gates' approaches on particular issues, but it is hard to argue with the basic concept of a really, really rich guy arguing for other really, really rich people to join him in giving their money to charity.
Anyway, Bill set up a company in 2008 to invest in stuff that interests him.
At the time, Tech Crunch called bgC3 LLC a "stealth" company that was a "think tank" or investment vehicle or both. The suggestion was that the abbreviation stood for Bill Gates Catalyst 3, meaning his third big project after Microsoft and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (link here). As of this morning, the web link for bgc3.com sends you to Gates' blog, www.gatesnotes.com.
Monday, a second and apparently related firm, bgn0, was created solely to invest in Editas Medicines, a company based in Cambridge, Mass., which seeks to make medicine from genome editing. The company link is here.
Editas was not struggling for cash, but $120 million is always welcome.
In its statement, Editas said:
"The new investor syndicate was led by Boris Nikolic, M.D., managing director of bng0, a
U.S.-based investment company that was formed to invest exclusively in Editas Medicine
and includes a select group of large family offices with a global presence and long-term
The statement also noted that Nikolic had joined the Editas board of directors and, "Before creating bng0, Dr. Nikolic most recently served as chief advisor for science and technology to Bill Gates at bgC3, the private office of Bill Gates, and at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where he led select for-profit and not-for-profit investment activities, including investments in various life sciences, information technology and
healthcare companies. Earlier, Dr. Nikolic completed postdoctoral training in transplantation immunology at Harvard Medical School and served as an assistant professor of medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School."
Forbes reported that Gates' office confirmed his involvement in the fund. Forbes also noted that long before any of Editas research is turned into medicine, there are patent disputes.
The statement listed a batch of new investors, including Deerfield Management, Viking
Global Investors, Fidelity Management & Research Company, funds and accounts
managed by T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc., Google Ventures, Jennison Associates on
behalf of certain clients, Khosla Ventures, EcoR1 Capital, Casdin Capital, Omega Funds,
Cowen Private Investments and Alexandria Venture Investments. The Company's
founding investors, Flagship Ventures, Polaris Partners and Third Rock Ventures, as well
as Partners Innovation Fund, also participated in this financing.
"Editas Medicine has made great strides in the development of CRISPR/Cas9
technology," Nikolic said in a statement. "The company is at the forefront of genome editing – one
of the most exciting and important frontiers in science. I look forward to joining the
board of directors and contributing to the team's continued growth and success."