Q&A with CEO Sridhar Iyengar & CTO Sal Savo
Today, Elemental Machines announced its successful acquisition of the Tetra Lab Monitoring business from Boston-based TetraScience, the R&D Data Cloud company.
Here, Elemental Machines CEO Sridhar Iyengar sits down with TetraScience co-founder Sal Savo to discuss the acquisition, the companies’ history as formidable rivals, and the future for the biotech pioneers they serve.
Elemental Machines and TetraScience’s Lab Monitoring business have served similar customers and even shared the same hometown for some time. Before this announcement, what was your perspective of the other?
Sridhar: I’ve always appreciated how Tetra identified basically the same market need at the same time that we did. That felt important, as it validated the market. A rising tide lifts all boats. When you identify a new market, you want to see the market support the solutions that are similar to yours. Tetra was focused on integrations first while we were focused on direct sensing first. We approached the same problem from different angles.
Sal: TetraScience and Elemental both saw the opportunity to leverage the power of the cloud and IoT to benefit the life science industry. Both companies have been innovators in a space historically dominated by long-standing players that have not invested in the LabOps space. We both share the same level of commitment to customer success and to delivering products that will ultimately make our customers' lives better.
What will this move mean for Tetra's Lab Monitoring and EM’s respective customers?
Sridhar: Each company has integrated certain protocols that, when combined, have significant benefits for our customers. Our customers will now have the capability to support thousands of new instrument integrations. Tetra Lab Monitoring customers will benefit from Elemental’s investments in data science and analytical interpretation. Our Smart Alerts capability identifies the culprit behind an alert, such as power loss or overuse, making corrective action faster and more focused. Eventually, customers will experience the best of both worlds as we blend the strengths of both platforms together.
Sal: Elemental’s mission is to elevate LabOps teams to lead data-driven discovery, development, and delivery. This is fully aligned with all our customers' goals. We believe that this acquisition will result in many upsides for Tetra's Lab Monitoring customers who will benefit from the investments of both companies over the last several years.
How did Tetra’s decision to focus more on their R&D Data Cloud open the door to such a spin-off?
Sridhar: TetraScience identified a strong opportunity to build out their R&D Data Cloud, and narrowed their focus to experimental data for research and development. At EM, we identified a need on the operational side of scientific organizations. We have our sights set on clinical labs, quality control, supply chain, etc. The products we’re building are for use outside of the R&D lab environment. As our respective focuses became clearer, the opportunity to join forces in some way did too.
Sal: At TetraScience, we saw the opportunity to solve one of the biggest problems in life science: making the data produced by scientific instruments easy to access and consume, and ready for analytics from day one. To do this, Tetra has to be a truely open platform focused on solving the R&D data engineering problem. On the other hand, managing and scaling a Lab Monitoring product requires a different type of DNA and significant investments for building innovative hardware solutions. Because of this, we all felt that Elemental was the perfect new home for the Tetra Lab Monitoring product.
How did such a discussion even begin? Who made the first move?
Sridhar: It may surprise people to learn that Sal and I had a tradition of getting dinner together once or twice a year. During our most recent catchup dinner, he brought up the future of Tetra, and an opportunity he saw to strengthen both brands and benefit both sets of customers by selling the Tetra Lab Monitoring business to Elemental Machines.
Sal: The best way to put it is that Sri and I were at the right place at the right time. We have known each other for a few years, and when we met for dinner at the beginning of last summer, the conversation naturally evolved toward possible ways to work together. By the end of the dinner, we realized that we both shared the same vision for continuing to deliver value to the LabOps professionals and that joining forces was in the best interest of both companies and customers.
How will the non-acquired portions of TetraScience be affected by the change?
Sal: This acquisition will enable TetraScience to focus entirely on delivering value to the life science industry via the R&D Data Cloud. It's important also to note that TetraSciences's ability to connect to simple lab equipment, such as balances and pH meters, and to extract experimental data via IoT is not affected by this divesture. Additionally, the Tetra Partner Network program will ensure that those customers who will also need a lab monitoring solution can have the option to buy it from Elemental Machines. The growth in the Tetra R&D Data Cloud has been simply incredible, and it represents an opportunity for us to collaborate moving forward without distracting them from their core.
What does this acquisition mean for the technological future of Elemental Machines?
Sridhar: In addition to the initial integrations, we now have an awesome partner in the R&D Data Cloud, which means we can focus our efforts in expanding beyond just R&D labs.
In 15 years, how will this moment be viewed in terms of its significance to the LabOps community as a whole?
Sridhar: Today, when you say “CRM,” people think of Salesforce. When you say “smartphone,'' people envision an iPhone. Because of this acquisition, when people say, “LabOps” in the years to come, Elemental Machines will be the singular brand that comes to mind. That’s a big responsibility, and one we don’t take lightly.