LS9 brings in new CEO, says “not shutting down”

Venture capital-backed startup LS9 has brought on a new CEO, Tjerk de Ruiter, who previously led biotech company Genencor, now owned by DuPont. Ruiter has been Chairman of the Board of LS9 since August 2012, and LS9’s former CEO, Ed Dineen, will step down, but will remain on the company’s board, says the company in a release Wednesday afternoon.
An LS9 spokesperson, as well as company investors, told me on Wednesday that the company is not shutting down. An article in Biofuels Digest on Wednesday reported that LS9 has been struggling, would soon see its staff disperse and could shut down. That article has now been changed to reflect the switch in leadership and de-emphasize the previous assertion that it could shut down.
No doubt it’s a difficult environment for biofuel startups right now. Finding venture capitalists to put more money into capital intensive biofuel production was hard in 2012, and will likely be equally hard in 2013.
Ls9 restructured its business in the fourth quarter of 2012, which led to a reduction in staff, said a company spokesperson. But the company is moving forward with its current size, says the spokesperson. The company would not release the number of its employees or the amount of staff reduced. LS9 started up a demonstration facility in Florida in late 2012, and opened an office in Sao Paulo, Brazil in the Summer of 2011.
LS9 uses a genetically modified version of e.coli bacteria to make diesel and other green chemicals and fuels. LS9 has raised at least $75 million from venture capitalists including Flagship Ventures, Khosla Ventures, Lightspeed Ventures, Chevron Technology Ventures, and BlackRock.