E’ville Biz: Gritstone raises $92M, Kikoko Cannabis Tea opening Emeryville Factory, Leadership change at CIR

Published On October 2, 2017 | By Rob Arias | Local Business, News & Commentary

Three divergent businesses are profiled in this month’s E’ville Biz slate of stories including a startup that makes Cannabis Tea, a “cancer vaccine” biotech company and the trailblazing Center for Investigative Reporting.

With the passing of Proposition 64 and impending “Green Rush”, Kikoko Cannabis Tea is preparing to scale up. Kikoko is looking toward Emeryville where it plans to open a new factory next year. The City of Emeryville is said to be on track to have their regulations in place to legally allow Marijuana sales by January 1st, 2018. The woman owned and run business lists among its Six Unbreakable Rules of Doing Business as ‘No Assholes’.

The Center for Investigative Reporting, whose office is at the EmeryTech complex on 65th, is parting ways with CEO Joaquin Alvarado after three years at the helm. CIR Board Chair Phil Bronstein, who we interviewed in 2014, praised Alvarado for helping “transform both CIR and our reach” during his five years in leadership roles. Christa Scharfenberg, a 14-year veteran of CIR, has been appointed acting CEO.

Gritstone Oncology, who employee 45 people at their EmeryStation campus on Horton, are pioneering a cancer immunotherapy using the body’s own immune system to hunt down and attack tumor cells. Gritstone will use the $92.7 million it has raised to send its first experimental treatments into clinical trials and help build out its Cambridge, Mass. manufacturing facility.


Gritstone Oncology CEO Andrew Allen

East Bay company snares $93M to zap cancers as they zig and zag

By Ron Leuty

An East Bay company profiling proteins that emerge on the surface of tumors — all with an eye toward developing highly personalized cancer vaccines — raised $92.7 million to send its first experimental treatments into clinical trials and build out manufacturing.

Gritstone Oncology, which now has raised about $195 million in two years, received its latest round of cash in the form of a preferred stock offering led by new investor Lilly Asia Ventures.

Read More on SF Business Times →
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Kikoko Cannabis Tea founders Amanda Jones and Jennifer Chapin.

Kikoko cannabis tea makers ready to open a new Emeryville factory

By Alejandra Reyes-Velarde

Amanda Jones and Jennifer Chapin tested initial versions of their cannabis tea many times, with unsuccessful results. Then one day, the two women decided to take one more sip.

“Are you feeling anything?” Chapin asked Jones over the phone. “No,” Jones replied.

About an hour later, the two women called each other again, giggling on their couches. Yup, they were high.

Read More on SF Business Times →
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Former CIR CEO Joaquin Alvarado (L) and interim CEO Christa Scharfenberg.

CIR announces leadership transition; Scharfenberg to serve as acting CEO

After more than 5 years with CIR, CEO Joaquin Alvarado to pursue outside ventures

By Reveal staff

The Center for Investigative Reporting announced that CEO Joaquin Alvarado has left the organization. He served in leadership positions at CIR for more than five years, first as chief strategy officer and then as CEO starting in 2014. Christa Scharfenberg, a 14-year veteran of CIR, will serve as acting CEO.

First at CIR and now on his own, Alvarado is pursuing a strategic opportunity to support high-impact journalism in the premium cable and online streaming space.

Read More on RevealNews.org →

About The Author

is a third generation Californian and East Bay native who moved to Emeryville in 2003. A new parent in the community, he can often be seen walking his French Bulldog rescue "Fiona" around his Park Avenue District neighborhood, traversing the greenway on his bike or enjoying his favorite Emeryville small businesses. Rob's "day job" is as a creative professional.

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