Today, let’s look at Amyris, which started out on a fuels journey and spawned instead a zillion ventures from its amazing alumni, but has re-invented itself as a company immersed in flavors, fragrances, CBD, and synthetic biology at its best. Also, with today’s headline, I’d like to pay a small tribute to a friend from New York days, Eddie Money, who passed away this past week.
Eddie knew a thing or two about re-inventing himself in the Bay Area. I remember well at the time of this 1987 live performance he was introduced as “a home town man” — but he was all New York, really. Eddie’s dad and grandfather, and just about everyone in his family was somehow engaged with NYPD, he was ex-NYPD Blue himself, when he was known as Eddie Mahoney. As a singer, he probably was best known for his anthemic Two Tickets to Paradise, which in itself is a meme of some importance to the advanced bioeconomy.
When you re-invent yourself in the world of the arts, it’s considered a good move, even a wise one, sometimes. In the bioeconomy, it’s greeted with some skepticism — pivots make the public nervous.
But Amyris’ Biossance skin care line has been a hit, featuring 100% plant-based squalane, and positioned as “the mega-moisture molecule that keeps skin healthy and hydrated”. Biossance first launched in 2015, and now is one of the top selling brands within Sephora stores, and now Biossance is now headed to Sephora Australia and New Zealand, we hear.
What’s the next step in the beauty sector for Amyris? Now the company has developed Pipette as a new brand reinventing “clean personal care for babies and moms using the fewest possible ingredients from the purest sources”.
It’s a second ticket to paradise on a couple of levels.
As the company notes:
“Pipette’s hero ingredient is Amyris’s proprietary sugarcane-derived squalane, a safe and sustainable version of squalene that baby’s skin readily recognizes. Every product in the line is EWG Verified, Leaping Bunny Approved, dermatologist tested, pediatrician approved, hypoallergenic, nontoxic, vegan, and synthetic fragrance-free.
“Amyris continues to disrupt the clean beauty market with Pipette, a breakthrough baby care brand that supports and nurtures skin in its most delicate state. At launch, the line includes seven products; including Shampoo & Wash, Lotion, Oil, Wipes and Balm for baby, and Belly Butter and Oil for expecting and postpartum moms. Pipette is available for purchase now online at Pipettebaby.com, and will be available in the coming weeks at buybuyBABY.com, Amazon.com, Walmart.com, and Dermstore.com as well as in-store exclusively at buybuy BABY® stores nationwide.
In case you missed it
Amyris has tipped several steps in its evolution from a renewable fuels to a health & beauty company.
Strategic supply agreements with Raízen for the supply of sugar, energy and other utilities to its new planned production plant co-located with Raízen’s Barra Mill along the Tiete River in Brazil’s Sao Paulo State.
Reaction from the stakeholders
“buybuy BABY is thrilled to be the exclusive omni-channel retailer for the launch of Pipette,” said Glen Cary, President of buybuy BABY. “We are the trusted destination for curated best-in-class baby products for new and expectant parents and Pipette’s clean and sustainable personal care products are a fantastic addition to our assortment.”
“Pipette is raising the bar for clean baby care,” stated Caroline Hadfield, President of Pipette. “Our millennial consumers are now becoming parents, and they demand a cleaner, safer option for their babies. Pipette was born from this overwhelming need for gentle, nontoxic products that scientifically work for babies’ skin.”
The Bottom Line
If the bioeconomy includes health & beauty as a category, we ought to thank Solazyme, originally — but Amyris, for sure. It’s been a disappointment to some that the company abandoned its renewable fuels ambitions. The 28 percent yields of farnesene from sugar dictated that the oil price was going to have to march past $100 per barrel, absent a significant skyfill scheme — and that’s proven to be a bridge too far. Other technologies will be filing that niche in renewable diesel and elsewhere.
For health and beauty, you need something more subtle and versatile than, say, a sizzling F/T technology. The terpenes are vast and filled with opportunities, and from squalane there are many directions. Pipette is just one. The organizing of the opportunities, matching the science with commerce, that will be the trick now — these are not commodity markets, these are fickle consumer markets. We’ll see how well Amyris is suited to exploiting the massive potential in its technology catalogue.
A little like writing great songs — but can you perform them? Execution is everything in the health & beauty sector — product design, formulation, package design, partnering with the right sales channels, and promotion. Lot more than selling commodity fuels into a ready market. The rewards — er, the margins — are a darn sight higher. That’s what makes this a compelling pivot into a large and under-served market, the customer who wants natural ingredients with no compromise on performance or price.
So, it’s two tickets to paradise, Biossance and Pipette. We’ll see how far, how fast Amyris goes.
Got a surprise especially for you,
Something that both of us have always wanted to do
We’ve waited so long, waited so long
We’ve waited so long, waited so long
Eddie Money, Two Tickets to Paradise