Local venture capital firm Atlas Venture welcomed a familiar face to its team Monday morning. Michael Gilman, whose startup Stromedix was acquired by one of the nation’s largest biotech companies, announced via Twitter that he will join the firm once more as an entrepreneur-in-residence.
Temporarily tabling my dream of becoming a pro fantasy hockey player to join my friends @atlasventure as an EIR and help them build newcos.
— Michael Gilman (@michael_gilman) November 18, 2013
The legendary biotech serial entrepreneur if far from new to the local VC firm.
After parting ways with Biogen Idec in 2005 to dedicate himself to starting his own company, Gilman posted up in Atlas Venture’s Waltham office in 2006 as an unofficial entrepreneur-in-residence.
“I had no official title, and there was no official program, and I wasn’t really being paid, I was kind of just working there,” Gilman said, laughing.
It was within Atlas’s space that Gilman formulated and launched his startup Stromedix, which focused on leveraging a specially-engineered antibody to ward off fibrosis, a common ailment from essentially all forms of organ failure. Over the course of the next few years, the company moved out of the VC firm, which was at the time still located in Waltham, and into Cambridge’s Kendall Square, where it proceeded to raise $38 million in funding. By no mistake, Atlas served as Stromedix’s lead investor and, as a result, Gilman had the opportunity to get to know the partners well.
When Biogen Idec, Gilman’s former employer, acquired Stromedix for $562 million in February 2012, the entrepreneur was put in charge of the company’s internal early-stage development programs.
“I went from thinking about one program at Stromedix 24/7 to thinking about 10 programs 24/7,” explained Gilman. “And for a scientist like me, that’s like heaven actually…The question was, ‘How do I create a scientific portfolio but really care about them the way I cared about Stromedix?'”
After leaving Biogen in June, Gilman had the opportunity to figure out the next move he wanted to make. Said Gilman:
I figured out in pretty short order that I was done with big companies. I love startups and starting companies, and working as part of a small team. I love taking exciting, but sort of ill-formed new science and trying to figure out how to crack the code on what is valuable to patients and investors.
The thing that I wanted to try and do differently was figure out how to diversify myself more, intellectually. [With Stromedix,] we did a great job, but we could have done more. I could have done more…Coming into Atlas is the perfect solution.
And the Atlas team is excited to have him back.
“Mike is a proven entrepreneur and money maker for Atlas, a man much loved by all with a sense of wit and a great Twitter presence,” Atlas Partner Fred Destin told BostInno. “He’s all around awesome,” added Bruce Booth over email, also noting that he will be working with Gilman “on several things together at the new venture creation startup stage.”
Gilman will work with a handful of fledgling startups in his new role. While he wouldn’t give up any names, he did share that he’s been doing “some digging” on a few of Atlas’s companies.
Said the new entrepreneur-in-residence of guiding the startups, “And if I should fall in love with one of them, I can run away with them.”
If Gilman does become so enthralled with one of Atlas’s companies, its leadership team will undoubtedly benefit from having the seasoned and successful scientist on board.