Clarus Ventures’ Rapid Evolution Leads To Blackstone

Robert Liptak is the co-founder of the life sciences investment firm Clarus Ventures and he knows that his business has to be about more than the bottom-line. Innovation, he believes, is the key to success in venture capital and people are the driving force behind that innovation.

“As veterans in the world of venture capitalism, we’ve each heard thousands of pitches and read hundreds of business plans – but when it comes down to it, we’re ultimately investing in people,” Liptak shared in a La Salle alumni magazine article co-written by fellow venture capitalist.

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Robert Liptak and Dr. Nick Galakatos co-founded Clarus Ventures after they decided to strike out on their own following their time together at MPM Capital – a healthcare venture capital firm. They opened their doors in 2005 and started strong with their inaugural life sciences fund closing at $500 million in January of the same year. They raised a subsequent three funds totaling at an impressive $1.9 billion over their thirteen-year tenure.

“We look for people who have a passion for what they’re doing,” Liptak wrote about how they choose their investment partners. “We’re not going to invest in people who think they’re the smartest in the room and don’t need any help. We want people who realize their limitations and know what additional resources they need to make the overall venture successful.”

In the past, Clarus has invested with both private and public companies in the biotechnology, medical device, and diagnostic sectors. A bulk of their investments have been in biotechnology and healthcare sectors such as Gritstone Oncology – who made their name developing tumor-specific immunotherapies who went public in September 2018.

The firm also became well-known for partnering with established biopharmaceutical companies to help them develop medicines and bring them to market. They have collaborated with pharmaceutical giants like Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Eisai to fund Phase 3 drug trials. One of their recent successes include their work with Pfizer to test their lung cancer drug Vizimpro, which was ultimately approved by the FDA in September 2018.

In 2018, Blackstone Group announced their intent to acquire the firm who held $2.6 billion in assets at the time of purchase. Both Liptak and co-founder Nick Galakatos joined Blackstone to head up their newly-founded Blackstone Life Sciences

“We are excited to join Blackstone and anchor a dedicated life sciences investing business,” Galakatos shared at the time of their merging. “The firm’s unmatched global scale, strong operating platform and track record in growing businesses, together with Clarus’ deep industry expertise, make this new platform an ideal partner to the industry that will bring significant benefits to investors seeking exposure to life sciences. We are looking forward to building on Clarus’ success with the added power of Blackstone.”

“This gives us the ability to scale our business and many resources to expand globally,” Galakatos said in an interview.