Illumina, Grenada, Kenny Bunk discussed on The Long Run

The Long Run
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Automatic TRANSCRIPT

And our vision, which is similar to what Illumina is, the genomics is improving the lives of everyone. And we make the picks and shovels, but it was great spending time with the people that actually transform the genomics and transform the industry. So it looks like you left in 2017. So you're there 1112 years by this point, Illumina's dominant in the market, number one DNA sequencing, better, faster, cheaper sequencing had really been popularized around the biomedical research enterprise worldwide. Why do you leave? Well, you know, I run really hard. And so I had been working very, very hard, even from the as soon as we, you know, even from the very beginning. And it was an absolute thrill, but at some point, you know, I needed to really spend some time with my family. I had a young family at the time and we had been very successful at alumina in my wife encouraged me to take some time. And so we decided to retire and we bought a sailboat and took the kids out of school. And we homeschooled them as we went on an adventure to a sailing adventure, which lasted almost three years. And the reason why we did that fundamentally was we wanted to teach our children about how big the world is and how much opportunity and possibility there is out there for people. And also about change and about learning about adversity and resilience and managing your fear, you know, 'cause sometimes when you're out on the ocean, you know, you're reliant on yourself and we were able to teach our kids those lessons and we sailed as far as north as Nova Scotia and as far south as Venezuela and everywhere in between and so it was time to really give back to my family. And so that's what we did. I still maintained my connections and managed still sat on some boards of directors. One of the boards I still sit on today is ginkgo bioworks, which is in synthetic biology and we recently went public through a spac and so that's been very exciting. But yeah, so I decided we needed to give to our kids because we just wouldn't get that time back. And how old were they? At this time? They were my little one was 5 and my older one was like, let's see, 12. So she was the older my older daughter was going into 8th grade and my little one was going into kindergarten. And you really did this for three years. We did. We did. And it was incredible. And quite frankly, the principal reason why we got off the boat was COVID. We were down in the Caribbean. And it was becoming very, very difficult to get around. By this time, I had already joined the PAC bio board too, by the way. And it was very difficult to get around, so we decided we needed to get the boat out of the water so we raced down to Antigua down to Grenada. And we got the boat out of the water and then we got the second to last flight out of Grenada to New York. Before they shut the airport for 6 months. And so along the way, we had purchased a home in Kenny bunk port Maine, which is where I am today. And we hunkered down for COVID here. And so that's what kind of ended the trip, are my older daughter, though, she did go, she ended up living on the boat with us for about a year and a half. Give or take and then she went off to boarding school. So she's a senior now at Hotchkiss in Connecticut. Which is one of the reasons why we're still on the east coast. Well, that's such an interesting story. But you were pretty young to retire as you say. And you did keep your connections alive with ginkgo as you referenced a couple other boards. How did you decide? And I suppose you probably recharge your batteries naturally out there in nature. How did you decide to join the pack bio board? Because this would have been like Illumina's wonderful competitors. You knew this company quite well. From a competitive distance? Sure. Why join the board? Well, so I joined the board in 2018 prior to aluminum making the bid to acquire PAC bio. And the reason why I joined the board is that first of all, if you look at the board super high quality individuals and I wanted to I wanted to learn from them. And then second, the technology was coming into its own in the sense that they were getting ready to launch a new chip, the 8 M chip, which is really the sequel to the foundation of the sequel too. And so I believed that this new chip and the new tech, the new technology would help drive the business. And I also believe at a fundamental level long read sequencing technologies extremely important to the future of diagnostics. And I believe that back in 2018. And so I decided to join the board. Months later, alumina came knocking to acquire the company because they saw, let's hold there and come to that later. For those not familiar, can you kind of juxtapose Illumina and pack bile like the fundamentals of their technology? They're short read at alumina and long read at PAC bile. What does that mean? And why is that important? Yeah, so Illumina has a technology called sequencing by synthesis. And that's a short read technology. And what short reads mean is that you sequence smaller fragments of DNA. So these fragments of DNA can be.

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