In December 2005, 40-year-old John Danner was about to make his first presentation to the board of directors of Codon Devices, a one-year-old biotechnology start-up based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. After a month as the company's CEO, Danner was prepared to lay out his strategic plan for the firm. The company was rapidly capturing share in the billion dollar DNA-synthesis market. Codon had several distinctive features for a company its size and age: it was already generating revenue from several different types of customer for its genetic products; it looked capable of revolutionizing the fragmented DNA-synthesis market; it received extraordinary support from its over-sized Scientific Advisory Board; it had developed and secured a strong intellectual property portfolio that creates high barriers to entry for any new market entrants; and, it had $13 million of venture capital investment from Flagship Ventures, Khosla Ventures, Kleiner-Perkins, and others.
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