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SAN FRANCISCO — Ginkgo Bioworks CEO Jason Kelly is here trying to convince the world’s largest drugmakers that yes, really, he actually can in fact help you.

Kelly’s powers of persuasion, so potent for so long, have often come up short since Ginkgo went public in 2021. The company that raised $1.6 billion privately on the promise of engineering cells to make everyday products like perfumes and synthetic burgers — even one day an iPhone — has sunk like a rock on the open market.


Ginkgo is down over 85% from its peak, to $1.84 per share. Its $23 billion valuation has shrunk to $2.81 billion, quickly ending Kelly’s brief flirtation with billionaire-dom. In addition to pitching Ginkgo to the world, he has had to explain to his own employees what a short report was and why he thought the one against them was just “noise.” At one point, he disclosed an “informal inquiry” from the Justice Department, which is still listed on financial forms as of November. 

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