our first employee, David Freeman

People and Science

Last month, Kronos Bio celebrated its fifth anniversary. Below, our first employee, David Freeman, shares his thoughts on our first five years.

People and Science. The order is intentional. If asked about our company’s identity and what I value most, that would be my answer: people and science. Kronos Bio officially began on December 18, 2017, with three people in an office no bigger than any office at 301 Binney in Cambridge. A colleague and I playfully teased about who was the first employee at Kronos and we settled it by loosely assigning each other “1A” and “1B,” never declaring who was “A” and who was “B.” (I was A.) As we grew in the first few months, we expanded that number to six, but didn’t change offices. The closeness felt cramped but was easily tolerated as we focused on a singular goal of making Kronos Bio a success by building a company composed of people aimed at helping others through science.

The early days necessitated organized chaos. Our initial projects targeted a transcription factor homodimer, a nuclear hormone receptor, and a kinase. We started generating data for these projects concurrent to setting up a lab, establishing vendor services, and recruiting. The priority was to find “GSD” people to join our cause. The acronym, translating to “get stuff done,” became our private mantra because there was no shortage of things that needed to be done quickly. I began to realize that time was the most important commodity and something you can never get back. This really sunk in when during some early investor meetings, an investor intensely asked, “What do you need to go faster?” Our reply?

“More people.”

The early days necessitated organized chaos. Our initial projects targeted a transcription factor homodimer, a nuclear hormone receptor, and a kinase.

Eventually we grew beyond our startup space and moved to a larger incubator, and then eventually our own offices on each coast. What sparked this catalyst of events was the onboarding of industry veterans who shared the same goal, providing leadership and experience at the helm. Talented people recruited more talented people with a diversity of expertise and the company was named one of FierceBiotech’s 2018 “Fierce 15,” designating us as one of the most promising private biotechs of the year. Logos were subsequently changed, we wrote a mission statement and created core values that reflect those of the company’s people.

Reflecting on the past five years, I realized that our goal has never wavered. Programs surfaced, sank or pivoted, but the persistence remained. INDs and patent applications were filed, clinical programs started, and the company went public. We improved our platform by reconstituting its composition to better reflect our collective skillset. We pushed molecules to the clinic and strategized for their success. We engaged the broader community to share our science and seek alignments. We balanced budgets, paid bills, fixed computers, and stocked snacks. All of these individual actions, however large or small, are accomplished by people who collectively moved the company forward.

As Kronos Bio celebrates its fifth birthday I’d like to say to my colleagues, take a moment and recognize that you are its identity, and take pride that you are here for others through science. I believe in the success of us all and therefore truly believe in Kronos Bio’s mission.