Ex-Cubist CEO joins Third Rock Ventures

Michael W. Bonney, the former chief executive of Cubist Pharmaceuticals Inc., in 2009.
Essdras M Suarez/Globe Staff
Michael W. Bonney, the former chief executive of Cubist Pharmaceuticals Inc., in 2009.

Michael W. Bonney, the former chief executive of Cubist Pharmaceuticals Inc. who left after it was sold to drug giant Merck & Co., has been named a partner at Third Rock Ventures.

The Boston venture capital firm said in a statement Thursday that the 57-year-old Bonney will help Third Rock create and grow biotechnology startups.

He will be one of nine partners at Third Rock, which specializes in launching and bankrolling life sciences businesses. He joins cofounders Mark Levin, Kevin Starr, and Bob Tepper, along with Alexis Borisy, Neil Exter, Kevin Gillis, Craig Muir, and Cary Pfeffer.


Bonney led Lexington-based Cubist from 2003 through 2014, and built it into one of the nation’s leading antibiotics companies before it was purchased by Merck for $9.5 billion.

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He previously held executive jobs at Biogen Inc. and AstraZeneca PLC. He also sits on the boards of several biotech companies and organizations, including Alnylam Pharmaceuticals Inc., Celgene Corp., and the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. The job at Third Rock, which started Thursday, will be a new kind of undertaking for Bonney.

In an interview, Bonney said he spent much of last year talking to others in the industry and taking advantage of “reflective time” to ponder his next career move. He also led a Third Rock-sponsored “Beyond Great” program in which he shared his experience with the leaders of about 30 of the firm’s portfolio companies about everything from fund-raising to clinical trials.

Bonney said he was attracted to Third Rock partly by the opportunity to train and mentor the next generation of biopharma leaders. “I have enough gray hair that part of my obligation is to keep the ecosystem healthy,” he said.

He cited Third Rock’s “hands-on approach” to launching companies, developing their business plans, and shepherding them through early-stage research and development. The firm has 37 portfolio companies, the majority based in the Boston area.


“With the spectacular science going on now, I wanted to be able to deploy capital to advance that science,” Bonney said.

Robert Weisman can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GlobeRobW.