Case | HBS Case Collection | May 2006 (Revised June 2006)

Codon Devices

by Joseph B. Lassiter III and David Kiron


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 oversized 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.

Keywords: Strategic Planning; Venture Capital; Intellectual Property; Governing and Advisory Boards; Genetics; Competitive Advantage; Science-Based Business; Business Startups; Growth and Development Strategy; Biotechnology Industry; Cambridge;


Lassiter, Joseph B., III, and David Kiron. "Codon Devices." Harvard Business School Case 806-198, May 2006. (Revised June 2006.)