The late comedian Rodney Dangerfield is most famous for a single line:
Once upon a time, the UC Berkeley-spawned, Bill Gates-endowed startup did get more than its share of respect, thanks to the celebrity status of founder and Cal “bioengineer” Jay Keasling, who’s appeared on The Colbert Report and was named Scientist of the Year for 2006 by Discover Magazine.
In 2010, Keasling was confidently declaring that the genetically engineered microbes he’d help develop to turn plant fiber into fuel in the laboratory could be scaled up from the test tube to refinery scale operations with no problems, ensuring commercial quantities of fuel to stave off the peak oil crisis.
That, of course, has proven a fantasy, with Amyris now paying $29 bucks for every gallon of diesel fuel derived from its patented, genetically engineered microbes.
With losses soaring, the company’s stock has tanked, plunging from a high of $33.85 14 months ago to today’s new record low of $1.86.
The company’s rapid descent toward penny stock levels has thrown a damper on new companies seeking to issue initial public offerings, dubbed “the Amyris effect” by Biofuels Digest editor Jim Lane.
Now comes more news about the company’s toxic impacts on the IPO sector from Kevin Quon of Seeking Alpha in a story about the failed IPO of Enerkem, a much-ballyhooed company which hopes to turn sewage into fuel.
Here’s the money quote, particularly that last sentence:
The implications of the company’s withdrawal from its IPO process casts a long shadow upon the public biofuel space. Similar market condition issues were faced with an IPO of Ceres (CERE), a biofuel crop specialist, which faced delays in its own IPO back in early 2012. Yet the largest ramifications are both reflected by and reflective of the current market conditions of recent biofuel companies that underwent an IPO in the past two years. Companies like Amryis (AMRS), Gevo (GEVO), and Codexis (CDXS) all continue to trade under their IPO prices. For its part, Amryis had even helped contribute to the industry collapse through its inability to scale up its production facilities problem-free.
Amyris has proven very adept at one process, the reverse of what Enerkem had planned: Turning cash into trash.