ETA: Thank you for a great AMA session, Reddit! We’re over for time but will keep answering questions as we’re able to, in the next few hours. You can also follow us on Twitter, where we tend to be more active (@Ginkgo ,@jrkelly , and @annamariewagner )! Thanks for joining us, everyone!

——

Ginkgo wants to make biology as easy to program as computers. We believe biology is like freakishly powerful alien technology that is far more advanced than anything we mere mortals have managed to invent. We want to help scientists and innovators utilize that technology to solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges from food supply to environmental remediation and climate change to healthcare and biosecurity. Our platform of expert scientists, foundry, and codebase support innovators who are building solutions across end markets. We love what we do and are excited to help everyone learn about what we might be able to GROW with biology!

Also - we announced in May that we’re going public in a SPAC merger with Soaring Eagle ($SRNG, which will become $DNA upon a successful close) and as we’re going public, want to help people learn more about the business we’re building. In the meantime, you can learn more about that too here and find lots more about our business on our investor page.

We'll be responding from about 2 to 4pm Boston time today! Keep your eyes on our Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn accounts as well, as we'll be livestreaming our responses!

Expect responses from me, Anna Marie Wagner on this account, and from Jason Kelly at u/jkelly555 (peep the Cake Day!). Co-founder Tom Knight (TK) is alongside us live and I’ll provide his answers as well! Plus we'll add other team members here as they chime in! [Edit: We were also joined by Head of Codebase Patrick Boyle, and David from the Decepticons team!]

We're also responding on live streaming on YouTube, Facebook, and LinkedIn

Comments: 393 • Responses: 70  • Date: 

coldize273 karma

The facebook developer who created the 'Like' button did so purely to spread joy. There was no foresight into how much anxiety it would create in social media.

My question is this:

  • What are you doing to try to tackle the potential moral/ethical problems your technology may create before those problems manifest?

Jiub881 karma

+1 on this.

surprised people aren't more interested in the moral and ethical issues inherent in enigeering biology and some of the places that could lead

GinkgoAnnaMarie46 karma

More people should care!!! A LOT!!!

GinkgoAnnaMarie53 karma

We care super deeply about ethics and values and spend a lot of time thinking about how biotechnology will impact the world, how science has gotten it wrong in the past (e.g. by excluding certain groups, etc.). Always happy to chat about more specifics, but you can also see some of our thoughts on topics at the intersection of society, ethics, and science in our magazine: Grow by Ginkgo (https://www.growbyginkgo.com/)

Bottom line: we CARE how our platform is used (we don't just see it as "pipes" and don't care what runs through those pipes) and feel responsible for making sure it's used for good.

imakeshoez286 karma

What are your strategies for enabling the fire breathing mechanism of the dragons ? Are there any examples of biologically generated fire?

GinkgoAnnaMarie88 karma

There are examples of biologically generated hydrogen and methane - those are well established pathways... All you really need is to accumulate enough of that and having some ignition process (maybe teeth with flintlike properties) - could easily imagine that could be developed

feralinprog52 karma

Thanks for answering our questions, Jason and Anna Marie! EDIT: And Tom Knight, as well :)

I've got several questions:

  1. I haven't heard Ginkgo discuss the scale-up problem in synthetic biology. Do you think it will be an issue for you? If not, is it because you believe you have the technical skills (or data sets) at Ginkgo to be able to scale to large fermentation tanks, or is it because you don't think your customers need/want cells that can produce molecules effectively at very large scale, or is it for some other reason?

  2. I know that Amyris focuses on yeast cells, while Zymergen uses mammalian cells for fermentation. What cell types will you focus on, and why?

  3. Do you foresee advances in computational biology that would allow simulating entire cell pathways instead of requiring thousands of physical cell tests? Overall, how much simulation vs. experimental testing do you do at Ginkgo?

  4. Who would you say are your biggest/strongest competitors in the field? (Private/public companies, research groups, etc.)

Let me add that I'm quite impressed with Ginkgo's work so far, and I plan to be a long-term investor but am looking for the best entry point. Good luck to you and your team!

GinkgoAnnaMarie38 karma

  1. Tom Knight (cofounder) loves this - he wants to model cells like computers, do predictable organism design, etc. - that's the dream - there's no PHYSICAL reason why that's not possible. That's very hard. The reason it's very hard is because a cell is not a machine that a human designed so we don't understand many pieces of it - you can collect reams of data to inform ML, which we do, but you need a LOT of data - we're very lucky at Ginkgo that our automation infrastructure gives us a lot of data to train those models. It's more experimental testing informing the models.

GinkgoAnnaMarie38 karma

  1. When people talk about this, they're really talking about industrial biotech - things like chemicals, food ingredients, animal free proteins, etc... You have to really work on it - we have a deployment and fermentation team at Ginkgo whose job it is to make small scale models of how a fermenter works (ambr250s, we have a ton of these things) - we use those to try different conditions; then deployment team works with a customer to scale up to production scale - we've done that. We've taken whole new processes and scaled to 80K liter fermenters; with Cronos we helped them find a fermentation facility, we helped them get the production runs going (and they just announced they've done first production runs). But it's also a cell engineering challenge - you need to write the right "code" AND you need to create the right fermentation "recipe."

GinkgoAnnaMarie34 karma

  1. So species are a key input into synthetic biology - what organisms you can work with def. matters (e.g. animals and plants do pretty different things!). At Ginkgo we work on bacterial cells, fungal cells like yeast, and mammalian cells. What we don't do are things like seeds and cows - e.g. multicellular organisms. Amyris works in fungal cells and Zymergen does bacterial and fungal cells; I don't think either have done anything in mammalian (which is more relevant for certain therapeutics purposes).

GinkgoAnnaMarie34 karma

  1. Honestly overwhelming competitor is R&D scientists doing this by hand - our value prop to customers is that by using R&D / robotics, we can do cell programming much less expensive than doing it by hand.

ICanFinallyRelax29 karma

I think the hardest thing for investors is being able to compare "stats" between synbio companies and what they have to offer.

What are your stats that you want to boast about? How many strains have you made in a year? How many strains do you screen in a year?

GinkgoAnnaMarie41 karma

I get why people want "stats" - but they're really hard because quality isn't typically included in those stats (e.g. "we have lots of proprietary gene sequences" - well that only matters if your sequences are useful for anything). We have all those stats (e.g. ~450M proprietary gene sequences, etc.), but what really matters is "are customers willing to TRUST US with their most important programs?". So the fact that we have worked on 73 major programs (through 2020) on behalf of our customers is what really matters to us. It's one thing to eat your own cooking, it's another thing to open a restaurant and get people to pay you to cook for them.

We're also pretty proud of our Foundry stats and Knight's Law: check out page 25 here: https://www.ginkgobioworks.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Ginkgo-Bioworks-Investor-Presentation-May-2021.pdf - all that work makes lots of new codebase for us, it's pretty awesome!

MoRegrets21 karma

One of the criticisms of the deal is that the valuation is too high/optimistic and I’ve seen people that they’ll wait to buy in hoping that the price will be lower. Any thoughts on that?

Also, given that the majority of your revenue stakes will come from equity and partnerships, would you be willing to share those publicly in a similar way to how ARK funds are showing their investments daily? I think it could be a way to increase transparency and value.

GinkgoAnnaMarie15 karma

Yep - talked about this above (copying answer from up there to save my fingers!)! We (alongside all the awesome investors who committed to our PIPE including Baillie Gifford, Putnam, MSIM, Bain Capital, Berkshire Partners, ARK, Arrowmark, etc.) feel good about the $15B valuation we negotiated and think there’s meaningful growth potential in the stock if we deliver on programs according to plan and start recognizing that downstream value (royalties, equity, etc.), which I think will help build understanding of the value in that part of the business. As far as trading (and therefore people wanting to buy in lower), if you look at recently announced SPAC deals, they’re all trading around the same price (i.e. essentially all of them are trading below $10/share) and I don’t think it’s because suddenly SPAC investors got bad at pricing deals. Rather, it’s (as far as I can tell) because there is deal uncertainty given SEC comments about certain SPAC accounting and policies and restrictions certain funds have on being able to buy into SPACs given those concerns. Obviously we can’t predict what the market will do but for now, we still feel great about the deal and the partners and investors we’ve brought on board.

On reporting revenue from equity stakes / partnerships - yeah, we'll definitely provide reporting on this. It doesn't make sense to do this on a daily basis since most of those companies are private, but we'll definitely be as transparent as we can - totally consistent with our values (that's why we're doing an AMA!).

Tasty-Living890319 karma

What skill sets do you see future bioengineers needing that they generally don't have right now? What will the Ginkgo employee in 10, 20, or 30+ years need to know?

GinkgoAnnaMarie10 karma

We want to make it EASIER, so hopefully the average cell programmer ("bioengineer") will need to know LESS than they know today - we want kids to be able to become programmers! But we'll def. be figuring out brand new techniques, etc. and so a small subset of folks will continue to be pushing the whole industry/technology forward.

kirakcursor17 karma

What is the success rate of Ginkgo to meet the customer production milestones for the programs they have done so far ? Esp as recent PRs (ex. Cronos) suggest revenue seems to be linked to this.

GinkgoAnnaMarie16 karma

It's too early to have any super meaningful data here since programs are multi-year and so most of the programs we've ever worked on are still in process. But we've successfully completed several programs - a couple cool flavors and programs, a couple programs for Motif, and you mentioned that Cronos ran their first production run of CBG - when possible (i.e. permitted by our partners), we'll announce completed programs and over time we should have more data on this that we could report on.

UnlivingMatter5 karma

if these programs are multi-year, do you think Ginkgo will run into issues with the younger generation taking part in your SPAC merger & stock as Ginkgo is, presumably, is very long play?

can you describe the type of growth you hope to see in a year, 3yr, 5yrs?

GinkgoAnnaMarie6 karma

I think younger investors are AWESOME - they will get to live through this whole revolution, that's pretty freaking cool!

We put growth projections in our investor deck (pg 41) - check it out!

chainsaw_monkey5 karma

Gingko has been around for a long time. Seems ambitious to suggest getting to 1B in the next few 4 years. What is going to happen then that has failed to happen over the last 10 years to enable this growth?

GinkgoAnnaMarie13 karma

So here's the thing - it's really hard to build an automated platform in biotech. Scientists have ULTIMATE flexibility - they can show up in a lab and do something totally different every day. Robots, not so much. So it took us EIGHT YEARS (like 2016/2017) before our automated foundry got to parity with people doing it themselves by hand and over the next few years, it got massively better (now we estimate it's 5-10x less expensive on a unit basis). Then we really focused the next few years on the business model: making sure we a) retained reusability of codebase/IP, b) sharing in the downstream economics, and c) covering an increasing portion of the upfront costs of doing the work. Now that we've hit those, we get to start passing incremental cost savings on to customers, which helps make it cheaper over time to use the platform (which helps more people use it!). Also - there are a lot more people now who WANT to build products in this space now and our platform is WAY better than it was several years ago and constantly improving.

not_a_conman5 karma

Not OP, but simple answer - $$$$

You need capital to scale, thus their SPAC merger.

GinkgoAnnaMarie5 karma

That too :)

MoRegrets16 karma

Have you worked on bacteria that can break down plastics and other pollutants ?

feralinprog11 karma

See their Allonia (iirc) partnership.

GinkgoAnnaMarie16 karma

Yup! Allonnia is working on this!! https://www.allonnia.com/

Lights0rt15 karma

Thanks for this! I have a couple of questions.

  1. Since the deal was announced, the share price of SRNG has been sitting below NAV. I believe this has to due with the valuation given at this point in time rather than the target company. We have seen reports of 90% of shares being redeemed when this happens. Is this being considered? Also, would you be open to the possibility to reconsider the valuation set forth? Many believe a lot of the growth in the short term has been priced in at the current valuation.
  2. Since you open up your foundry to anybody, is it possible for you to develop strains for two directly competing companies? For example: I know that you work closely with Motif, but if another plant-based food company comes along and says "I can do what Motif is doing, but better" can they come to you for their strain development? How would that work?

GinkgoAnnaMarie10 karma

Great questions. For #1:

We (alongside all the awesome investors who committed to our PIPE including Baillie Gifford, Putnam, MSIM, Bain Capital, Berkshire Partners, ARK, Arrowmark, etc.) feel good about the $15B valuation we negotiated and think there’s meaningful growth potential in the stock if we deliver on programs according to plan and start recognizing that downstream value (royalties, equity, etc.), which I think will help build understanding of the value in that part of the business.As far as trading, if you look at recently announced SPAC deals, they’re all trading around the same price (i.e. essentially all of them are trading below $10/share) and I don’t think it’s because suddenly SPAC investors got bad at pricing deals. Rather, it’s (as far as I can tell) because there is deal uncertainty given SEC comments about certain SPAC accounting and policies and restrictions certain funds have on being able to buy into SPACs given those concerns. Obviously we can’t predict what the market will do but for now, we still feel great about the deal and the partners and investors we’ve brought on board.

GinkgoAnnaMarie8 karma

For #2: Yes! That's the whole point! We want to enable as many companies as possible! Our IP / licensing policy is to ensure our customers can be successful (by giving them an exclusive license to the IP we created for them for their product) while making sure we can re-use that IP for non-competitive products AND making sure we can work on competitive products using new IP that we create for the next customer. Obviously every deal is unique, but that's the spirit of it!

Poop_Ball11 karma

With all of the different biotech companies out there, what is it that you do best that helps you distinguish yourself from the competition?

GinkgoAnnaMarie17 karma

Well, Poop_Ball, I think the main difference is that overwhelming in biotech companies focus on products, we're operating as a horizontal PLATFORM (i.e. enabling other companies to make products across a bunch of spaces), which is much more common in tech (vs. as Jason calls it "real" tech or as TK calls it "living" tech).

a3g00011 karma

Is there a way for the public to track things like the downstream royalty/equity details, performance targets, and progress for Ginkgo’s existing programs?

Thank you!

GinkgoAnnaMarie8 karma

We'll provide periodic reporting of independent marks / valuation on equity deals; we'll also announce completed programs and share details on those when our partners are ok having that information be public. For royalty-based deals, you'll also see the revenue flow through the P&L and we'd provide some commentary on that.

Guy-2610 karma

The year is 2100. What will the newest products coming out of Ginkgo’s labs be?

GinkgoAnnaMarie12 karma

What are your strategies for enabling the fire breathing mechanism of the dragons ? Are there any examples of biologically generated fire?

TK has a general rule about technology which is that nothing much interesting happens in 5 years and EVERYTHING is different in 10 yrs. You're going to be surprised what will happen in 10yrs but disappointed in the progress in 5 years.

In 79 years... Let's go backwards - what would you have predicted when the transistor was invented in 1946? Could you have predicted an iPhone? Think it's EXTREMELY difficult to predict...

kirakcursor9 karma

1) When is Ginkgo Bioworks 6 coming ? (TRIOKA says it is 2021 Summer/Fall on their website)

2) What Bioworks (2,3,4,5) are currently being used ?

GinkgoAnnaMarie10 karma

When is Ginkgo Bioworks 6 coming ? (TRIOKA says it is 2021 Summer/Fall on their website)

  1. Yeah this fall
  2. Bioworks 2, 3, and 4 are all currently operational and running programs. They typically focus on different specialties (e.g. some focus on "test" - i.e. making sure the right DNA is in the right place in a cell and that the cell is doing the things it's supposed to do - some areas focus on "build" - i.e. getting the DNA into the cell in the first place, etc.). Bioworks 5 is getting refactored (i.e. rearranged) right now and will be taking on many of our sequencing workflows.

  3. Come visit and check them out!

haixin8 karma

What made you want to do such a thing? What are some of your best successes? What have you learned from your worse failure?

GinkgoAnnaMarie15 karma

From TK: It's the next important technology; in the same way I was excited about computers in the 60s because it was the next important technology; it's very clear now that biology is by far the most important technology going forward so why would you NOT do it? TK's biggest failure: not realizing this much earlier!

From AMW: I joined Ginkgo because it was the biggest mission (with a real possibility to actually pull it off!) I'd ever seen. Also the team is freaking amazing.

Green_And_Green8 karma

The prevailing logic is that Synthetic Biology has an opportunity to capture a $4T TAM across the next few decades. Setting aside the actual estimated (presumably significant) TAM, does Ginkgo view this as a winner-take-all or winner-take-most market? If not, can you describe the types of speciality players that will emerge and name a few that are well-positioned to capture a piece of the sizeable TAM?

GinkgoAnnaMarie6 karma

We think there can and should be LOTS of winners in this market - Ginkgo wants to enable lots and lots and lots of winners making awesome products using biology. I think it's really hard for a company that is really good at making one product to suddenly get really good at making another product and so we think there will be lots of winners.

MoRegrets8 karma

Can you reengineer cilantro so my wife doesn’t get offended by it’s taste?

PresiTraverse18 karma

Or reengineer my husband so he doesn't get offended by cilantro's taste? I would hate to ruin cilantro.

GinkgoAnnaMarie15 karma

Yeah - TK suggests it's probably easier to engineer your wife since we know what the gene is already!

Guy-267 karma

Why do you guys call yourselves Ginkgo?

GinkgoAnnaMarie17 karma

People at Ginkgo = pretty inspired by Jurassic Park... Learned our lessons from Jurassic Park (hence investments in biosecurity) but the Ginkgo organism is one of the plants that basically hasn't changed in 65+ million years - so it dates back to the age of the dinosaurs; it's also a survivor - it's the only surviving species in its lineage (it has its own phyllum!). So we def. knew we needed to have some organism name and Tom suggested the Ginkgo name. Jason LOVES getting lots of Ginkgo merch - feel free to send it to him at 27 Drydock Avenue, Boston, MA 02210.

HewittOfRivia7 karma

Thanks for the amazing work and for hosting this AMA! I’ve got two questions, hopefully quick. :)

My understanding is Ginkgo has more ambition on being a horizontal platform than going to vertical domains. In the future, do you foresee more spinnoffs from Ginkgo or joint ventures with other vertical businesses? Which one would you prefer?

What are your selling points to the vertical businesses, especially the ones in pharmaceuticals, which have a lot of in house expertise? In other words, how do you convince them to use foundry or do joint ventures with you instead of building in house?

Thank you!

Proud shareholder and believer in technologies

GinkgoAnnaMarie10 karma

You're welcome!! Thanks for joining us!! :)

Yes - we def. want to be horizontal and plan to partner with companies rather than develop our own products!

Re: convincing people to use the platform - it really depends on the customer! Some customers have literally no expertise in-house and there it's really more about whether they're going to try to go after the project at all or not. For pharma companies (like you mention), it's about whether Ginkgo has capabilities they don't have in house and even the largest / most sophisticated pharma companies are still doing much/most of their work "by hand" at a lab bench so we can offer them a level of scale (+ our codebase!) that they don't have in house. That's why folks like Biogen and Roche are working with us!

crjlsm7 karma

Some far-off hypotheticals here, but looking to the future of the industry, do you see organic "factories" replacing the current manufacturing processes we take for granted today?

Also, I've long held the belief that real AI is not possible using inorganic material. To me, DNA is the programming language/software and our bodies are the hardware. Do you guys buy into this?

Finally, if you can share them, what are your views on this technology when it comes to national security? Undoubtedly, any country that is able to harness synthetic biology is going to have a huge leg up. Do you guys see your tech as something to be protected? Or is it more of an open-source vibe?

-excited investor, holding shares and calls 😏

GinkgoAnnaMarie9 karma

TK was told many years ago that if you have a powerful tech and you're trying to protect it: 1) try very hard to keep it a secret, 2) you can run like hell - there is no way that we are going to be able to keep biology secret, so that leaves just one alternative - makes us run like hell to being the best in the world at understand and building biological systems for whatever applications are important to us.

Basically, we think lots of people are going to figure this stuff out, and we need to build the biosecurity tools (i.e. quick identification and therapeutic/vaccine development) to make sure we're ok.

GinkgoAnnaMarie8 karma

AI re: inorganic material: TK came up during Gen1 AI ("thinking machines") - TK thinks there's every reason to believe that conventional electronic computing is where AI gets developed - it is and continues to be much faster than anything we can develop biologically. An important caveat though is that to realize the way in which that electronic system is constructed is almost certainly not going to be with the same technologies we're using today but instead reliant on biology as a way to BUILD the electronics; that's because biology is much better at precision positioning of atoms and that's what's necessary to make precision electronics at the scale we'll be using

Ascobol1016 karma

Thank you for your time. Are you guys still following the iGEM competition? If yes, what was the most astounding project you have seen? And do you know what percentage of Ginkgo employees are ex-iGEM candidates?

GinkgoAnnaMarie7 karma

YES!!! I was in iGEM in 2008 ("Bactricity") and we're involved every year! We looked into this recently and I think then it was like 10% of our employees we KNEW had done iGEM (and we probably missed a bunch).

I'm really excited by the iGEM projects focused on pollution / environmental remediation - such a huge problem and we need every smart person working on these issues!

Switch_and_Mimic6 karma

Why isn’t Ginkgo in the Bay Area?

GinkgoAnnaMarie6 karma

Yeah, we do have a Bay Area location! But we actually love being in Boston - it's a really scientifically rigorous area and I think it has held the bar really high for us!

beayyayy6 karma

Financially how is ginko going to report earnings on ownership of other companies they have a stake in as part of their liscencing plan?

GinkgoAnnaMarie4 karma

We'll disclose our relationships with folks where we have equity and we'll provide periodic reporting / updates on the valuation of those stakes based on recent marks / rounds of those companies. Check out our S-4 for lots more information!

Mcdonaldsnipe6 karma

Do you have any internships?

GinkgoAnnaMarie10 karma

Yes!! We'll post them here: https://jobs.lever.co/ginkgobioworks?lever-origin=applied&lever-source%5B%5D=GINKGOBIOWORKS.COM

We typically do summer internships on our commercial teams and then have year-long "internships" (we call it a "padawan" program) on our technical team, which is an awesome way to join the company young!

Thensaurum6 karma

Hello Jason and Anna Marie,

  1. In the interest of transparency, please explain the current legal and financial relationship between Ginkgo and Motif, including the basis for referring to Motif as a customer.
  2. Also, is there a possibility for a future Motif IPO there?

Thanks

GinkgoAnnaMarie5 karma

  1. Check out our S-4 (fun weekend reading!)! We talk about lots and lots here! Check out pages F-65 and beyond in our S-4

  2. I don't see why not but don't really have a basis to comment on our customers' independent plans!

ThatOtherGuy_CA5 karma

Can you grow a bigger penis?

Asking for a friend.

GinkgoAnnaMarie7 karma

This might be a job for u/Grinko_Biotech, not Ginkgo.

eireks5 karma

From the recent S-4, it seems there are two different ways to unlock "downstream value" with equity compensation - Platform Ventures where Ginkgo receives a stake in new companies to tackle a new problem, and Structured Partnerships that are deals with existing companies.

Other than the six companies mentioned in the S-4, could you elaborate on your other partnerships a bit more?

When does Ginkgo decide to pursue a compensation in equity compared to say the most recent collaboration with Biogen, which seems like a more straight-forward cash payment for services?

Finally, with the Delta Covid variant emerging more prominently, how do you see your Biosecurity sector for the rest of this year?

GinkgoAnnaMarie4 karma

We also get milestones and royalties a lot - these are common with bigger companies (e.g. Roche, Biogen, Corteva, Robertet, etc.). We're open to either and work with our customers to structure a transaction that works well for them!

Re: Delta variant - it's pretty clear that the Delta variant is "happening" and it seems reasonable to assume that it's going to increase the need for continued testing, esp. for kids who aren't vaccinated yet - that's what Concentric by Ginkgo is focused on.

kirakcursor5 karma

We know your foundries are very useful for new companies.

When do you think Ginkgo will reach inflection point w.r.t CODE BASE, where using your foundry would be a no brainer even for BIG COMPANIES (having with their own research teams) ?

GinkgoAnnaMarie5 karma

We've actually historically had an easier time selling to big companies. Examples of big companies that we've done deals with: Biogen, Roche, Bayer (through our JV, Joyn - if Bayer could've done it themselves, they wouldn't have created the JV), Cargill, Ajinomoto, DSM, Robertet....

Monki_Coma5 karma

Im curious, whats the weirdest thing you've ever made?

GinkgoAnnaMarie4 karma

Probably something I don't know about :) The weirdest thing I do know about is perfume made from extinct flowers. Check it out here: https://www.ginkgobioworks.com/2019/05/03/reviving-the-smell-of-extinct-plants/

yajustgottasellit4 karma

Hello Jason and Anna Marie! Thank you so much for being so approachable via this AMA and your Twitter Spaces.

From reading the Ginkgo blog, it is clear that your innovation in cell engineering has been accompanied by innovation in the software tools you use to analyze the data you produce.

What are the greatest software/data analysis challenges you have faced when scaling Ginkgo, and how have your software tools evolved to address those challenges?

GinkgoAnnaMarie3 karma

The hardest thing is probably maintaining flexibility while trying to scale automated systems - it requires a really deep understanding of the wide variation of things a biologist might want to do paired with a massively complex operations research challenge (maximizing utilization / efficiency while also maximizing flexibility)

Some-Kind-Of-Monkey4 karma

It seems like the industry is currently more focused on CBG production rather CBD. For your cannabinoid production, are you guys following the trend and going to market with just CBG or are you planning on getting into the CBD market as well?

GinkgoAnnaMarie7 karma

Our partnership with Cronos focuses on multiple different cannabinoids - check out the deets here: THC(A), CBD(A), CBC(A), CBG(A), THCV(A), CBGV(A), CBDV(A), CBCV(A)

ohcalix4 karma

Thanks for taking questions!

  1. What are the skill sets you have the hardest time hiring for?

  2. Motif has made many announcements about on-going technology partnerships that can potentially deliver in the relatively short-term (eg: Coasun). In contrast, we don’t hear much about progress made towards Gingko delivering target molecules for them. Any update on this?

GinkgoAnnaMarie6 karma

  1. Oof, I don't know... but I think it's really hard to find really strong technical sales folks (e.g. people who really understand the science but are also super commercial and understand the business side of things)

  2. We don't disclose anything on behalf of our customers - we let them make their own news and disclose what they want to (and they might be sensitive to telling the world, i.e. their competitors, exactly what they make / where they are in their development). Motif did just recently announce this

ICanFinallyRelax4 karma

For your industrial fermentation projects, how long does it take you to scale to 50k L fermentation tanks? And how much does it cost a company like Cronos to get CBG through this process? (Could you give a range if you can't give exact numbers)

GinkgoAnnaMarie5 karma

"How long does it take to scale to XXX" - real question is how long it takes to engineer the cell to perform well; the actual "scale up" part doesn't take all that long in the grand scheme of things - that's a pretty straightforward path now. A typical cell engineering project is like 2-4 years (including cell engineering all the way down to scale up and downstream processing).

jas25753 karma

What is one problem you wish a company/client would bring to Ginko to solve? Or what current problem would you most wish to solve?

GinkgoAnnaMarie3 karma

world peace (so... hunger?)

Ascobol1013 karma

Thank you for this opportunity! Are you "just" improving the customers strain or are you designing strains of your own for the production of an Ginkgo product line (for example Hyaline and Zymergen). In other words, do you consider selling your own products or do you focus on the improvement of your customers strains.

Also, since you seem to broaden your range of organisms in recent times, is there an interest at Ginkgo for microalgae as an production plattform?

GinkgoAnnaMarie3 karma

We'll do both!! We LOVE programs where we design "from scratch" (and that's the vast majority of our programs) but sometimes we work with customers who already have been working on a program for a while but got "stuck" and we can also start with their work and help make it viable.

And yeah - no reason we wouldn't do microalgae - we like all organisms!

theinternetishere123 karma

I am very curious about your equity stakes in other companies! Will you ever disclose this information?!?!

GinkgoAnnaMarie2 karma

We disclose lots and lots of information about our equity partners in our S-4 (a little light weekend reading) - feel free to check it out; lots of details starting on page F-76 in the most recent S-4

LockStockBarrl3 karma

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GinkgoAnnaMarie3 karma

We really just entered this space in a real way last year (2020) and think we'll grow significantly in this space in the coming years as we "catch up" to our fair share here. Our deal with Biogen is an early example of this

EngineeringDevil3 karma

But can it run DOOM? /jk

But honestly, what would your solution to increasing biodegradability of plastics and papers that are normally dumped into landfills with designer bacteria

GinkgoAnnaMarie3 karma

Check out what Allonnia is doing!

Some-Kind-Of-Monkey3 karma

Any plans on using filamentous fungi to produce biomolecules?

GinkgoAnnaMarie3 karma

Yes! Check out our Dutch DNA acquisition!

specialneedstrader3 karma

Is the goal to one day program complex cell structures in full? Does this mean you could just "build" lost species or even better ones?

Grinko_Biotech5 karma

Ginkgo is too focused on useful species. Here at Grinko we focus on what the people actually want. Jackalopes. Armoured bears. Even louder seagulls

GinkgoAnnaMarie3 karma

What u/Grinko_Biotech said

LockStockBarrl3 karma

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GinkgoAnnaMarie3 karma

They're AWESOME!!! They can help "write the recipe" for manufacturing and can even manage the process entirely (with a network of contract manufacturing orgs) or help our customers build up that manufacturing capability themselves (e.g. we helped Cronos build out their Winnipeg facility). Some of our customers are really good at manufacturing themselves and so in that case, we'll just give that partner the recipe and they'll manufacture themselves.

Anarkii173 karma

  1. How do you plan on overcoming scepticism about GMOs?
  2. Do you think carbon taxes will be a big boost to biological manufacturing?

GinkgoAnnaMarie6 karma

Copying Jason's note from above to talk about #1:
Awesome topic. Check out the editorial in the NYT (https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/16/opinion/i-run-a-gmo-company-and-i-support-gmo-labeling.html), which was highly influenced by Christina Agapakis at Ginkgo. Scientists and engineers like to think that resistance to GMOs is an education problem but the reality is that it’s not an education problem but a trust problem. The public didn't trust the organizations that were deploying a powerful technology. One of the worst ways to lose trust is to not be transparent (i.e. by not labeling it!). We are proud of GMOs -- At the end of the day, it’s going to be a greener way to make things. The people who read labels and care how their products are made are exactly the folks that should love GMOs in the future as they will be a greener way to make things. We have to do is be transparent with labeling and build trust with consumers. For example in therapeutics – about half of them are made by GMOs (antibody drugs to fight cancer, human insulin, etc) and people happily use them. That industry did a good job being transparent about using GMOs, building trust with the FDA as a regulatory partner, and making products that make people's lives better.

#2: Yeah! Great if governments will step up!

sharist_DIY_bio2 karma

What new initiatives do you have to foster greater creativity? Beyond Grow and your art and tech residencies, how will you grow the culture (pun intended)? Like when Patrick thinks of the art of his "wood" and going back to CAS-9 to do retro yeast designs, do you have other creative ventures? Real or imagined?

GinkgoAnnaMarie3 karma

We've got such an AMAZING creative team here who are passionate about this. Christina Agapakis runs our creative team and you saw Joseph on the livestream, they're seriously awesome and we love people who are excited about biology and creative enough to apply it to lots of different things!

notyouravgseq2 karma

I wish there were more deep tech companies taking huge bets like Ginkgo. Given these big risks, what are you afraid of as a company? What new technologies/startups/ideas are you warning investors about?

GinkgoAnnaMarie3 karma

Agreed!! It's really hard for "hard tech" to get funded, but it's super important that we figure out how to do that! Gosh, I'm not sure what we're "warning" investors about... our hope is that everyone's heart is in the right place, even if they're a long way away from having anything viable.

aesclamadoca2 karma

Currently, anyone with a computer can run code locally on their computers. For Synbio to be as widespread as computer programming it seems like you should be able to have a local DNA Synthesis + cloning + cell culture “computer” to run your “code” on, or do you foresee Ginkgo being the gateway into synbio for the masses?

GinkgoAnnaMarie5 karma

I think that's true if you assume programmers have to be able to compile locally. I think it'll look more like centralized compile/debug (in Ginkgo's foundry) but anyone can send in code/requests to program and then get the results back.

TNBCisABitch2 karma

Can you program DNA to not grow things? Like cancer?!

GinkgoAnnaMarie3 karma

This is probably more the field of gene editing people (e.g. editing people to not have certain cancer-causing genes), and we're not doing that today. But I recommend the Code Breaker book for a fun read and it covers a lot of the technical and ethical dilemmas about this space.

FutureCredit32 karma

How big do you think your company will go in the next 2-5 years? I’m cheering for you all!

GinkgoAnnaMarie4 karma

Thanks for cheering for us!! Check out our projects for the foundry revenue on page 41 here

ignishun2 karma

Do you think we will see commercial/home use of bio-based synthesis in the next ten years? Like instead of brewing beer brewing like a protein slurry or some kind of foodstuff from refuse/compost (I'm not entirely sure what would constitute feedstock). My friend works for you guys! I'm getting my PhD in chemistry soon maybe I'll apply if you need chemists hehe. Cheers!

GinkgoAnnaMarie2 karma

u/JKelly555 was a chemist - we love chemists!

And yes, I totally think the manufacturing process will look WAY different in the future; I think our traditional "biomanufacturing" today (i.e. stick bug in tank, tell it to make as much stuff as it can before it dies) will look "quaint" in 5-10 yrs. That's why we want to make a platform that's as broad as possible so we will always be the best place in the world in the future to do this!

Iamatworkgoaway2 karma

In your own opinion what potential use case out there is a step to far?

IE most people are not going to complain about vitamin D rice. Gene editing in humans is still probably a ways off, especially regulatory wise, but what do you see that is out there, potentially possible, and to far ethically for you. Smarter dogs, smarter people, Smarter great apes? If they could splice in big boobs is that to far, if it was proven safe and effective?

GinkgoAnnaMarie5 karma

We think a lot about this and I don't think it's as simple as "this thing" or "that thing." I think society needs to come to a perspective on what is acceptable as new things become possible.

123_holden2 karma

Why do you not disclose all your joint ventures? Is it b/c they are immaterial?

Does GINKGO still own any part of Motif?

As a investor, what am I getting for my investment? just the foundry?

GinkgoAnnaMarie5 karma

We disclose them in our S-4 - check it out (a little light weekend reading!) https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/0001830214/000119312521161781/d177007ds4.htm

Ginkgo still owns equity in Motif, we haven't sold any to other investors.

As an investor, you get a portion of all the value in Ginkgo - that's driven yes, by the foundry, but also by our codebase and our ability to share in the downstream value of the products that are created using our platform

CAP_X2 karma

hey, I am a dumb fuck so pardon if my question is correspondingly dumbass.

Does playing aroung with DNA means you can create neural networks maybe not as complex as brain but complex enough to mimic the artificial processing units in our electronic devices.

If no, why not ? If yes , would it be more effecient/compact than the best threads we have now ? Wouldn't they benifit from neuroplasticity thus would be great for AI ML ?

again, I am thinking like a small kid here .

GinkgoAnnaMarie3 karma

Not a dumb question! We're not really doing this sort of thing yet, but I definitely think creating networks of cells will be something we do in the future!

IronicPker2 karma

How close are we to revive actual dinosaurs? (Yes, I am thinking Jurassic Park). Serious question though.

GinkgoAnnaMarie3 karma

We addressed this in our Investor Day (23:21)

minecraftframe1 karma

can you grow me happiness? or someone that will love me for me? xD

GinkgoAnnaMarie3 karma

Learn how to program biology, grow your own!!