Bigger launching pad

As IPOs get bigger, so do mezzanine rounds. Witness the $72 million raised by Orchid Biocomputer. The pharmacogenomics and microfluidics company is claiming the largest venture financing in biotech history, eclipsing the $70 million raised by British Biotech (LSE:BBG; BBIOY) in 1991 and the $62.7 million raised by Tularik (TLRK) in 1996. According to Chairman and CEO Dale Pfost, Orchid had planned to raise $24-$54 million.

The investor syndicate includes DNA chip play Affymetrix (AFFX), and scuttlebutt on the Street is that the company is looking to tap the hot genomics market with a first quarter red herring. The financing values Orchid near $150 million, which includes the shares it issued to acquire privately held GeneScreen, which is developing genetic diversity analysis services (see B3). Orchid has raised more than $100 million since its inception in 1995.

Fat guys weren't singing

Both biotech and high-tech had wonderful fourth quarters - The BioCentury 100 was up 50 percent while the NASDAQ Composite was up 48 percent - so it's hard to blame investors for wanting to

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