Life sciences software startup Benchling files for U.S. listing – sources

(Reuters) – Benchling, which develops software tools for scientists and pharmaceutical research organizations, has confidentially submitted paperwork with regulators for a stock market listing in New York, according to people familiar with the matter.

The San Francisco, California-based company, which was valued at $4 billion in a funding round earlier this year, is aiming to go public in early 2022 at a much higher valuation, the sources said.

Benchling is considering going public through a direct listing, although the company has not ruled out a traditional IPO (initial public offering), sources said. One of its major investors on the board, Benchmark Capital, has been a vocal advocate of direct listings.

The start-up hired investment banks and other financial advisors earlier this year to advise on its listing plans, the sources said.

The sources, who requested anonymity as these discussions are confidential, cautioned that Benchling’s go-public plans were subject to market conditions and could change. Benchling declined to comment.

Founded in 2012 by Massachusetts Institute of Technology classmates Sajith Wickramasekara and Ashu Singhal, Benchling has emerged as a prominent player in a niche and growing market for digitizing the R&D process.

Its valuation has soared since the beginning of 2020, when it was valued at less than $1 billion, as the company benefited from booming R&D investments in pharma and biotech companies. Benchling has so far raised roughly $350 million from venture capital investors including Sequoia Capital and Menlo Ventures.

Benchling offers customers a variety of software applications and technology platforms, including cloud-based tools and laboratory automation software. Its end-to-end workflow management system allows researchers to collaborate and track projects.

According to its website, over 200,000 scientists currently use Benchling’s technology tools. It counts numerous big names from the pharma, life sciences and biotech sectors, including Gilead Sciences , Sanofi, Regeneron, Gingko Bioworks, Zymergen, Lyell Immunopharma Inc and BP’s Biosciences Center among its customers.

Earlier this year, Benchling hired former LinkedIn executive Richard Wong as its chief financial officer as part of its plans to go public.

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