Annual report pursuant to Section 13 and 15(d)

Summary of Significant Accounting Policies

Summary of Significant Accounting Policies
12 Months Ended
Dec. 31, 2018
Accounting Policies [Abstract]  
Summary of Significant Accounting Policies


Nature of the Business

Molecular Templates, Inc. (the “Company” or “Molecular”), is clinical stage a biopharmaceutical company formed in 2001, with a biologic therapeutic platform for the development of novel targeted therapeutics for cancer and other diseases, headquartered in Austin, Texas. The Company’s initial focus is on the research and development of therapeutic compounds for a variety of cancers.  Molecular operates its business as a single segment, as defined by U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (“U.S. GAAP”).

On August 1, 2017, the Company, formerly known as Threshold Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq: THLD) (“Threshold”), completed its business combination with the entity then known as Molecular Templates, Inc., a private Delaware Corporation (“Private Molecular”), in accordance with the terms of an Agreement and Plan of Merger and Reorganization, (the “Merger Agreement”), dated as of March 16, 2017, by and among Threshold, Trojan Merger Sub, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Threshold (“Merger Sub”), and Private Molecular, pursuant to which Merger Sub merged with and into Private Molecular, with Private Molecular surviving as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Threshold (the “Merger”). Also on August 1, 2017, in connection with, and prior to the completion of, the Merger, Threshold effected an 11-for-1 reverse stock split of its common stock (the “Reverse Stock Split”) and changed its name to “Molecular Templates, Inc.” Threshold also assumed all of the stock options issued and outstanding under Private Molecular’s 2009 Stock Plan, as amended, and issued and outstanding warrants of Private Molecular, with such stock options and warrants representing, following the Merger, the right to purchase a number of shares of Common Stock equal to 7.7844 multiplied by the number of shares of Private Molecular’s common stock previously represented by such stock options and warrants, as applicable, after taking into account the Reverse Stock Split. Immediately after the Merger, the former Private Molecular stockholders, warrantholders and optionholders owned approximately 65.6% of the fully-diluted Common Stock, with Threshold’s stockholders and warrantholders immediately prior to the Merger, whose warrants and shares of Threshold’s common stock remained outstanding after the Merger, owning approximately 34.4% of the fully-diluted Common Stock, in each case, without giving effect to the issuance of shares of Common Stock in the concurrent financing and the Takeda Financing, and excluding, in each case, out-of-the money securities. Following the completion of the Merger, the business conducted by the Company became primarily the business conducted by Private Molecular as described in the paragraph above.

Basis of Presentation

The accompanying consolidated financial statements have been prepared in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America and include the accounts of the Company and its wholly owned subsidiary, and reflect the elimination of intercompany accounts and transactions.

Reverse Stock Split

On August 1, 2017, in connection with, and prior to the completion of, the Merger, Threshold effected a Reverse Stock Split through an amendment to its amended and restated certificate of incorporation as part of the Merger. As of the effective time of the reverse stock split, every eleven shares of the Company’s issued and outstanding common stock were converted into one issued and outstanding share of common stock, without any change in par value per share. The reverse stock split affected all shares of the Company’s common stock outstanding immediately prior to the effective time of the reverse stock split, as well as the number of shares of common stock available for issuance under the Company’s equity incentive plans. In addition, the reverse stock split effected a reduction in the number of shares of common stock issuable upon the exercise of stock options or warrants outstanding immediately prior to the effectiveness of the reverse stock split. All references to shares of common stock and per share data for all periods presented in the accompanying financial statements and notes thereto have been adjusted to reflect the reverse stock split on a retroactive basis.


Certain amounts in the prior year’s presentations have been reclassified to conform to the current presentation.  These reclassifications had no effect on previously reported net loss.

Accounting Estimates

The preparation of financial statements in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America as defined by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (“FASB”) Accounting Standards Codification (“ASC”) requires management to make estimates and assumptions that affect certain reported amounts and disclosures. Accordingly, actual results could differ from those estimates.

Net Loss per Share

Basic net loss per share is calculated by dividing the net loss applicable to common stockholders by the weighted average number of shares of Common Stock outstanding during the period without consideration of Common Stock equivalents. Since the Company was in a loss position for all periods presented, diluted net loss per share is the same as basic net loss per share for all periods, as the inclusion of all potential common shares outstanding is anti-dilutive.

Cash and Cash Equivalents

The Company considers temporary investments with original maturities of three months or less from date of purchase to be cash equivalents.

Marketable Securities

The Company classifies its marketable securities as “available-for-sale.” Such marketable securities are recorded at fair value and unrealized gains and losses are recorded as a separate component of stockholders’ equity until realized. Realized gains and losses on sale of all such securities are reported in net loss, computed using the specific identification cost method. The Company places its marketable securities primarily in U.S. government securities, money market funds, corporate debt securities, commercial paper and certificates of deposit.

The Company’s investments are subject to a periodic impairment review. The Company recognizes an impairment charge when a decline in the fair value of its investments below the cost basis is judged to be other-than-temporary. The Company considers various factors in determining whether to recognize an impairment charge, including the length of time and extent to which the fair value has been less than the Company’s cost basis, the financial condition and near-term prospects of the investee, and the Company’s intent and ability to hold the investment for a period of time sufficient to allow for any anticipated recovery in the market value.

Concentration of Credit Risk and Other Risks and Uncertainties

Financial instruments that potentially subject the Company to concentrations of risk consist principally of cash and cash equivalents, investments, long term debt and accounts receivable.

The Company’s cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities are with two major financial institutions in the United States.

The Company performs an ongoing credit evaluation of its strategic partners’ financial conditions and generally does not require collateral to secure accounts receivable from its strategic partners. The Company’s exposure to credit risk associated with non-payment will be affected principally by conditions or occurrences within Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Ltd. (“Takeda”). Approximately 53% and 56% of total revenues for the year ended December 31, 2018 and 2017, were derived from Takeda. See also Note 4, Research and Development Collaboration Agreements, regarding the collaboration agreements with Takeda.

Drug candidates developed by the Company may require approvals or clearances from the FDA or international regulatory agencies prior to commercial sales. There can be no assurance that the Company’s drug candidates will receive any of the required approvals or clearances. If the Company were to be denied approval or clearance or any such approval or clearance were to be delayed, it would have a material adverse impact on the Company.

Property and Equipment

Property and equipment are stated at cost less accumulated depreciation. Major additions and improvements are capitalized while maintenance and repairs that do not improve or extend the useful life of the respective asset are expensed. Depreciation of property and equipment is computed using the straight-line method over the estimated useful lives of the assets, which range from five to seven years. Leasehold improvements are amortized over the shorter of the lease term or the estimated useful lives of the assets.

Impairment of Long-Lived Assets

When events, circumstances and/or operating results indicate that the carrying values of long-lived assets might not be recoverable through future operations, the Company prepares projections of the undiscounted future cash flows expected to result from the use of the assets and their eventual disposition. If the projections indicate that the recorded amounts are not expected to be recoverable, such amounts are reduced to estimated fair value. Fair value is estimated based upon internal evaluation of each asset that includes quantitative analyses of net revenue and cash flows, review of recent sales of similar assets and market responses based upon discussions in connection with offers received from potential buyers. Certain factors used for these types of nonrecurring fair value measurements are considered Level 3 inputs. Management determined there was no impairment during the years ended December 31, 2018 and 2017.

Revenue Recognition

The Company’s revenue has consisted principally of research and development revenue and grant revenue.

Grant revenue relates to the grants the Company has received from governmental bodies that are conditional cost reimbursement grants, and we recognize revenue as allowable costs are incurred. Amounts collected in excess of revenue recognized are recorded as deferred revenue.

Effective January 1, 2018, the Company adopted the Financial Accounting Standards Board’s (“FASB”) provisions of ASC 606, Revenue from Contracts with Customers (ASC 606), using the modified retrospective method for all contracts not completed as of the date of adoption. For contracts that were modified before the effective date, the Company reflected the aggregate effect of all modifications when identifying performance obligations and allocating transaction price in accordance with available practical expedients. The reported results for 2018 reflect the application of ASC 606 guidance, while the reported results for 2017 were prepared under the guidance of ASC 605, Revenue Recognition, which is also referred to herein as “Previous Guidance.”

Under ASC 606, the Company recognizes revenue when its customer obtains control of promised goods or services, in an amount that reflects the consideration which the Company expects to receive in exchange for those goods or services. To determine revenue recognition for arrangements that are within the scope of ASC 606, the Company performs the following five steps: (i) identification of the promised goods or services in the contract; (ii) determination of whether the promised goods or services are performance obligations including whether they are distinct in the context of the contract; (iii) measurement of the transaction price, including the constraint on variable consideration; (iv) allocation of the transaction price to the performance obligations based on estimated selling prices; and (v) recognition of revenue when (or as) the Company satisfies each performance obligation. A performance obligation is a promise in a contract to transfer a distinct good or service to the customer.

The Company identifies the goods or services promised within each collaboration agreement and assesses whether each promised good or service is distinct for the purpose of identifying the performance obligations in the contract. This assessment involves subjective determinations and requires management to make judgments about the individual promised goods or services and whether such are separable from the other aspects of the contractual relationship. Promised goods and services are considered distinct provided that: (i) the customer can benefit from the good or service either on its own or together with other resources that are readily available to the customer and (ii) the entity’s promise to transfer the good or service to the customer is separately identifiable from other promises in the contract. In assessing whether a promised good or service is distinct, the Company considers factors such as the research, manufacturing and commercialization capabilities of the collaboration partner and the availability of the associated expertise in the general marketplace. If a promised good or service is not distinct, an entity is required to combine that promised good or service with other promised goods or services until it identifies a bundle of goods or services that is distinct.

The allocation of the transaction price to the performance obligations in proportion to their standalone selling prices is determined at contract inception. If the consideration promised in a contract includes a variable amount, the Company estimates the amount of consideration to which it will be entitled in exchange for transferring the promised goods or services to a customer. The Company determines the amount of variable consideration by using the expected value method or the most likely amount method. The Company includes the unconstrained amount of estimated variable consideration in the transaction price. The amount included in the transaction price is the amount for which it is probable that a significant reversal of cumulative revenue recognized will not occur. At the end of each subsequent reporting period, the Company re-evaluates the estimated variable consideration included in the transaction price and any related constraint, and if necessary, adjusts its estimate of the overall transaction price. Any such adjustments are recorded on a cumulative catch-up basis in the period of adjustment.

In determining the transaction price, the Company adjusts consideration for the effects of the time value of money if there is a significant benefit of financing. The Company assessed its collaboration agreements and concluded that no significant financing components were present.

If an arrangement contains customer options that allow the customer to acquire additional goods or services, including an exclusive license to the Company’s intellectual property, the goods and services underlying the customer options are evaluated to determine whether they are deemed to represent a material right. In determining whether the customer option has a material right, the Company assesses whether there is an option to acquire additional goods or services at a discount. If the customer option is determined not to represent a material right, the option is not considered to be performance obligations at the outset of the arrangement. If the customer option is determined to represent a material right, the material right is recognized as a separate performance obligation at the outset of the arrangement. The Company allocates the transaction price to material rights based on the relative standalone selling price, which is determined based on the identified discount and the probability that the customer will exercise the option. Amounts allocated to a material right are not recognized as revenue until the option is exercised.

The Company recognizes as revenue the amount of the transaction price that is allocated to the respective performance obligation as each performance obligation is satisfied over time, with progress toward completion measured based on actual costs incurred relative to total estimated costs to be incurred over the life of the contract. Recorded revenue and costs are subject to revision as the contract progresses. Such revisions may result in increases or decreases to revenue and income and are reflected in the consolidated financial statements in the periods in which they are first identified. Estimating costs under the Company’s collaboration agreements is complex and involves significant judgment. Factors that must be considered in making estimates include labor productivity and availability, the nature and technical complexity of the work to be performed, potential performance delays, availability and timing of funding from the customer and progress toward completion. Adjustments to original estimates are often required as work progresses and additional information becomes known, even though the scope of the work required under the contract may not change. Any adjustment as a result of a change in estimates is made when facts develop, events become known, or an adjustment is otherwise warranted, such as in the case of contract change orders. The Company has procedures and processes in place to monitor the actual progress of a project against estimates and the Company’s estimates are updated if circumstances are warranted.

Performance obligations may include research and development services to be performed by the Company on behalf of the collaboration partner. Revenue is recognized on research and development efforts as the services are performed and presented on a gross basis, since the Company is the principal.

Under collaboration agreements, the timing of revenue recognition and contract billings may differ, and result in contract assets and contract liabilities. Contract assets represent revenues recognized in excess of amounts billed under collaboration agreements and are transferred to accounts receivable when billed or billing rights become unconditional. Contract liabilities represent billings in excess of revenues recognized under collaboration agreements. 

Refer to Note 4,” Research and Development Agreements”, for further details about the impact of the adoption of ASC 606.

Income Taxes

Income taxes are recorded in accordance with ASC 740, Accounting for Income Taxes (“ASC 740”), which provides for deferred taxes using an asset and liability approach. The Company recognizes deferred tax assets and liabilities for the expected future tax consequences of events that have been included in the financial statements or tax returns. The Company determines its deferred tax assets and liabilities based on differences between financial reporting and tax bases of assets and liabilities, which are measured using the enacted tax rates and laws that will be in effect when the differences are expected to reverse. Valuation allowances are provided if based upon the weight of available evidence, it is more likely than not that some or all of the deferred tax assets will not be realized.

ASC 740 clarifies the accounting for uncertainty in income taxes recognized in the financial statements and provides that a tax benefit from an uncertain tax position may be recognized when it is more likely than not that the position will be sustained upon examination, including resolutions of any related appeals or litigation processes, based on the technical merits. This interpretation also provides guidance on measurement, derecognition, classification, interest and penalties, accounting in interim periods and disclosure. The Company’s policy for recording interest and penalties associated with uncertain tax positions is to record such items as a component of tax expense.

Stock-Based Compensation

The Company accounts for its stock-based compensation awards to employees, including grants of employee stock options, to be recognized in the statements of operations based on their grant date fair values. The Company estimates the grant date fair value of each option award using the Black-Scholes option-pricing model. The use of the Black-Scholes option-pricing model requires management to make assumptions with respect to the expected term of the option, the expected volatility of the common stock consistent with the expected life of the option, risk-free interest rates and expected dividend yields of the common stock. The Company recognizes stock-based compensation expense, equal to the grant date fair value of stock options over the requisite service period.


In conjunction with certain financing transactions, the Company issued warrants to purchase the Company’s common stock. The Company determines whether the warrants should be classified as a liability or equity. For warrants classified as liabilities, the Company estimates the fair value of the warrants at each reporting period using Level 3 inputs. The estimates in valuation models are based, in part, on subjective assumptions, including but not limited to stock price volatility, the expected life of the warrants, the risk-free interest rate and the fair value of the common stock underlying the warrants, and could differ materially in the future. The Company will continue to adjust the fair value of the warrant liability at the end of each reporting period for changes in fair value from the prior period until the earlier of the exercise or expiration of the applicable warrant.

For warrants classified as equity, the Company records the value of the warrants in additional paid-in capital on the balance sheet. The Company will continue to evaluate the classification of the warrants on a quarterly basis, to determine whether the warrants continue to meet equity classification requirement.

Research and Development Costs

Research and development expenses consist of costs such as salaries and benefits, laboratory supplies, facility costs, consulting fees and fees paid to contract research organizations, clinical trial sites, laboratories, other clinical service providers and contract manufacturing organizations. Research and development costs are expensed as incurred.

In-process Research & Development

In-process research and development, or IPR&D, represents the fair value assigned to acquired research and development assets that were not fully developed as of the completion of the Merger. IPR&D acquired in a business combination is capitalized on the Company’s balance sheet at its acquisition-date fair value. Until the project is completed, the asset is accounted for as an indefinite-lived intangible asset subject to impairment testing. Upon completion of a project, the carrying value of the related IPR&D is reclassified to intangible assets and is amortized over the estimated useful life of the asset. The Company evaluates the potential impairment of its intangible assets if events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying amount of the asset may not be fully recoverable.

Comprehensive loss

Comprehensive loss is comprised of the Company’s net loss and other comprehensive income (loss). Unrealized gain (loss) on available-for-sale marketable securities represents the only component of other comprehensive income (loss).

Clinical Trial Accruals

The Company’s preclinical and clinical trials are performed by third party contract research organizations (CROs) and/or clinical investigators, and clinical supplies are manufactured by contract manufacturing organizations (CMOs). Invoicing from these third parties may be monthly based upon services performed or based upon milestones achieved. The Company accrues these expenses based upon its assessment of the status of each clinical trial and the work completed, and upon information obtained from the CROs and CMOs. The Company’s estimates are dependent upon the timeliness and accuracy of data provided by the CROs and CMOs regarding the status and cost of the studies, and may not match the actual services performed by the organizations. This could result in adjustments to the Company’s research and development expenses in future periods. To date the Company has had no significant adjustments.

Bonus Accruals

The Company has bonus programs for eligible employees. Bonuses are determined based on various criteria, including the achievement of corporate, departmental and individual goals. Bonus accruals are estimated based on various factors, including target bonus percentages per level of employee and probability of achieving the goals upon which bonuses are based. The Company’s management periodically reviews the progress made towards the goals under the bonus programs. As bonus accruals are dependent upon management’s judgments of the likelihood of achieving the various goals, it is possible for bonus expense to vary significantly in future periods if changes occur in those management estimates.


The Company has one reportable segment and uses one measurement of results of operations to manage its business. All long-lived assets are maintained in the United States of America.

Recently Issued Accounting Pronouncements

Effective January 1, 2018, the Company adopted ASC 606, which provides principles for recognizing revenue to depict the transfer of promised goods or services to customers in an amount that reflects the consideration to which the Company expects to be entitled in exchange for those goods or services. The Company adopted ASC 606 on a modified retrospective basis through a cumulative adjustment to equity.  The impact of the adoption of the standard to prior period amounts is discussed below in Note 4, “Research and Development Agreements”.

In November 2018, the FASB issued ASU 2018-18, Collaborative Arrangements (Topic 808): Clarifying the Interaction between Topic 808 and Topic 606, which clarifies that certain transactions between participants in a collaborative arrangement should be accounted for under ASC Topic 606 when the counterparty is a customer. In addition, Topic 808 precludes an entity from presenting consideration from a transaction in a collaborative arrangement as revenue from contracts with customers if the counterparty is not a customer for that transaction. This guidance will be effective for the Company beginning January 1, 2020. The Company is currently evaluating the impact of the adoption of this standard on its consolidated financial statements.

In December 2017, the SEC issued Staff Accounting Bulletin (“SAB”) 118 to address the application of GAAP in situations in which a registrant does not have the necessary information available, prepared, or analyzed (including computations) in reasonable detail to complete the accounting for certain income tax effects of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (the “Tax Act”), which was signed into law on December 22, 2017. In March 2018, the FASB issued ASU No. 2018-05, “Income Taxes (Topic 740): Amendments to SEC Paragraphs Pursuant to SEC Staff Accounting Bulletin No. 118 (SEC Update)”, which amended ASC 740 to incorporate the requirements of SAB 118. The impact of the adoption of the standard did not have a material impact on the Company’s consolidated financial statements.

In June 2018, the FASB issued ASU No. 2018-07, “Stock-based Compensation: Improvements to Nonemployee Share-based Payment Accounting”, which amends the existing accounting standards for share-based payments to nonemployees. This ASU aligns much of the guidance on measuring and classifying nonemployee awards with that of awards to employees. Under the new guidance, the measurement of nonemployee equity awards is fixed on the grant date. This ASU becomes effective in the first quarter of fiscal year 2019 and early adoption is permitted. Entities will apply the ASU by recognizing a cumulative-effect adjustment to retained earnings as of the beginning of the annual period of adoption. The Company early adopted the standard in the fourth quarter of 2018 and it did not have a material impact on the Company’s consolidated financial statements.

In February 2016, the FASB issued Accounting Standards Update No. 2016-02, Leases (Topic 842) (ASU 2016-02), that amends the guidance for the accounting and disclosure of leases. This new standard requires that lessees recognize operating and finance lease liabilities and corresponding right-of-use assets on the balance sheet and to provide enhanced disclosures surrounding the amount, timing, and uncertainty of cash flows arising from leasing arrangements. The Company is adopting the new standard effective January 1, 2019 on a modified-retrospective basis and will not restate comparative periods. We will elect the package of practical expedients permitted under the transition guidance, which allows us to carryforward our historical lease classification, our assessment on whether a contract is or contains a lease, and our initial direct costs for any leases that exist prior to adoption of the new standard. We will also elect to combine lease and non-lease components and to keep leases with an initial term of 12 months or less off the balance sheet and recognize the associated lease payments in the consolidated statements of income on a straight-line basis over the lease term. The Company does not expect to elect the practical expedient pertaining to the use of hindsight. The Company expects that the adoption of this standard will have a material effect on the Company’s financial statements. While the Company continues to assess all the effects of adoption, the Company currently believes that the most significant impact will be reflected in: (i) the recognition of new ROU assets and lease liabilities on the Company’s balance sheet for its operating leases of real estate and (ii) the requirement to provide significant new disclosures regarding the Company’s leasing activities. The adoption of new standard will have a material impact on the Company’s consolidated balance sheet as of January 1, 2019, as we will recognize the right-of-use assets and liabilities for our operating leases. We expect to record lease liabilities of approximately $4.7 million based on the present value of the remaining minimum rental payments using discount rates as of the effective date. We also expect to record corresponding right-of-use assets of approximately $4.2 million, based on the operating lease liabilities adjusted for unamortized deferred rent and lease incentives. The Company, however, does not expect a material impact to its consolidated statements of operations and consolidated statements of cash flow.


In May 2017, the FASB issued a new accounting standard update on stock compensation and the scope of modification accounting to clarify when to account for a change to the terms or conditions of a share-based payment award as a modification. Under this new guidance, modification accounting is required if the fair value, vesting conditions, or classification of the award changes as a result of the change in terms or conditions. The standard is effective for annual reporting periods beginning after December 15, 2017, including interim reporting periods within each annual reporting period. The Company early adopted the standard in the first quarter of 2018 and it did not have a material impact on the Company’s consolidated financial statements.