Annual report pursuant to Section 13 and 15(d)

Summary of Significant Accounting Policies

Summary of Significant Accounting Policies
12 Months Ended
Dec. 31, 2019
Accounting Policies [Abstract]  
Summary of Significant Accounting Policies


2. Summary of Significant Accounting Policies

Basis of Presentation


The Company’s consolidated financial statements have been prepared in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States (“U.S. GAAP”). Any reference in these notes to applicable guidance is meant to refer to the authoritative U.S. GAAP as found in the Accounting Standards Codification (“ASC”) and Accounting Standards Updates (“ASU”) of the Financial Accounting Standards Board (“FASB”).

Principles of Consolidation


The accompanying consolidated financial statements include the accounts of Syros Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and its wholly owned subsidiaries, Syros Securities Corporation, a Massachusetts corporation formed by the Company in December 2014 to exclusively engage in buying, selling and holding securities on its own behalf, and Syros Pharmaceuticals (Ireland) Limited, an Irish limited liability company formed by the Company in January 2019. All intercompany transactions and balances have been eliminated in consolidation.


Use of Estimates


The preparation of financial statements in conformity with U.S. GAAP requires management to make estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts in the financial statements and accompanying notes. Management considers many factors in selecting appropriate financial accounting policies and in developing the estimates and assumptions that are used in the preparation of the financial statements. Management must apply significant judgment in this process. In addition, other factors may affect estimates, which include, but are not limited to, expected business and operational changes, sensitivity and volatility associated with the assumptions used in developing estimates and whether historical trends are expected to be representative of future trends. Management’s estimation process often may yield a range of potentially reasonable estimates and management must select an amount that falls within that range of reasonable estimates. On an ongoing basis, the Company’s management evaluates its estimates, which include, but are not limited to, estimates related to revenue recognition, stock-based compensation expense, accrued expenses and income taxes. Actual results may differ from those estimates or assumptions.

Segment Information


Operating segments are identified as components of an enterprise about which separate discrete financial information is available for evaluation by the chief operating decision maker, or decision-making group, in making decisions on how to allocate resources and assess performance. The Company's chief operating decision maker is the Chief Executive Officer. The Company and the chief operating decision maker view the Company's operations and manage its business in one operating segment. The Company operates only in the United States.

Cash and Cash Equivalents


The Company considers all highly liquid instruments that have original maturities of three months or less when acquired to be cash equivalents. Cash equivalents, which consist of money market funds that invest in U.S. Treasury obligations, as well as overnight repurchase agreements, are stated at fair value. The Company maintains its bank accounts at one major financial institution.

Off-Balance Sheet Risk and Concentrations of Credit Risk

The Company has no financial instruments with off-balance sheet risk, such as foreign exchange contracts, option contracts, or other foreign hedging arrangements. Financial instruments that potentially subject the Company to concentrations of credit risk primarily consist of cash equivalents and marketable securities. Under its investment policy, the Company limits amounts invested in such securities by credit rating, maturity, industry group, investment type and issuer, except for securities issued by the U.S. government. The Company is not exposed to any significant concentrations of credit risk from these financial instruments. The goals of the Company’s investment policy, in order of priority, are safety and preservation of principal and liquidity of investments sufficient to meet cash flow requirements.

Fair Value of Financial Instruments

ASC 820, Fair Value Measurement (“ASC 820”), established a fair value hierarchy for instruments measured at fair value that distinguishes between assumptions based on market data (observable inputs) and the Company’s own assumptions (unobservable inputs). Observable inputs are inputs that market participants would use in pricing the asset or liability based on market data obtained from sources independent of the Company. Unobservable inputs are inputs that reflect the Company’s assumption about the inputs that market participants would use in pricing the asset or liability. These are developed based on the best information available under the circumstances.

ASC 820 identified fair value as the exchange price, or exit price, representing the amount that would be received to sell an asset or paid to transfer a liability in an orderly transaction between market participants. As a basis for considering market participant assumptions in fair value measurements, ASC 820 established a three-tier fair value hierarchy that distinguishes between the following:

Level 1—Quoted market prices (unadjusted) in active markets for identical assets or liabilities.

Level 2—Inputs other than quoted prices included within Level 1 that are either directly or indirectly observable, such as quoted market prices, interest rates and yield curves.

Level 3—Unobservable inputs developed using estimates or assumptions developed by the Company, which reflect those that a market participant would use.

To the extent that the valuation is based on models or inputs that are less observable or unobservable in the market, the determination of fair value requires more judgment. Accordingly, the degree of judgment exercised by the Company in determining fair value is greatest for instruments categorized as Level 3. A financial instrument’s level within the fair value hierarchy is based on the lowest level of any input that is significant to the fair value measurement.

The carrying amounts reflected in the consolidated balance sheets for cash and cash equivalents, prepaid expenses, other current assets, restricted cash, accounts payable, accrued expenses, deferred revenue, and financing and operating lease liabilities approximate their respective fair values due to their short-term nature.

Property and Equipment

Property and equipment consists of laboratory equipment, computer equipment, furniture and fixtures and leasehold improvements, all of which are stated at cost, less accumulated depreciation. Expenditures for maintenance and repairs that do not improve or extend the lives of the respective assets are recorded to expense as incurred. Major betterments are capitalized as additions to property and equipment. Depreciation and amortization is recognized over the estimated useful lives of the assets using the straight-line method.

Construction-in-progress is stated at cost, which relates to the cost of leasehold improvements not yet placed into service. No depreciation expense is recorded on construction-in-progress until such time as the relevant assets are completed and put into use.

Impairment of Long-Lived Assets

The Company continually evaluates long-lived assets for potential impairment when events or changes in circumstances indicate the carrying value of the assets may not be recoverable. Recoverability is measured by comparing the book values of the assets to the expected future net undiscounted cash flows that the assets are expected to generate. If such assets are considered to be impaired, the impairment to be recognized is measured by the amount by which the book values of the assets exceed their fair value. The Company has not recognized any impairment losses from inception through December 31, 2019.

Other Long-Term Assets

At December 31, 2019, other long-term assets primarily consisted of advance payments made to the contract research organization responsible for conducting the Company’s SY-1425 clinical trial. At December 31, 2018, other long-term assets primarily consisted of advance payments made to the contract research organization responsible for conducting the Company’s clinical trials of SY-1425 and SY-1365.

Revenue Recognition


To date the Company’s only revenue has consisted of collaboration and license revenue. The Company has not generated any revenue from product sales and does not expect to generate any revenue from product sales for the foreseeable future. For the years ended December 31, 2019 and 2018, the Company recognized approximately $2.0 million and $2.1 million of revenue, respectively, all of which is attributable to the Company’s target discovery collaboration with Incyte Corporation (“Incyte”). For the year ended December 31, 2017, the Company recognized $1.1 million of revenue, all of which was attributable to a research agreement with a multinational pharmaceutical company that expired in accordance with its terms in March 2017.


The Company recognizes revenue in accordance with ASC 606, Revenue from Contracts with Customers (“ASC 606”). ASC 606 applies to all contracts with customers, except for contracts that are within the scope of other standards, such as leases, insurance, collaboration arrangements and financial instruments. Under ASC 606, an entity recognizes revenue when its customer obtains control of promised goods or services, in an amount that reflects the consideration the entity expects to receive in exchange for those goods or services. To determine revenue recognition for arrangements that an entity determines are within the scope of ASC 606, the entity performs the following five steps:




identify the contract(s) with a customer;




identify the performance obligations in the contract;




determine the transaction price;




allocate the transaction price to the performance obligations in the contract; and




recognize revenue when (or as) the entity satisfies a performance obligation.


The Company only applies the five-step model to contracts when it is probable that the entity will collect the consideration it is entitled to in exchange for the goods or services it transfers to the customer. If a contract is determined to be within the scope of ASC 606 at inception, the Company assesses the goods or services promised within such contract, determines which of those goods and services are performance obligations, and assesses whether each promised good or service is distinct. The Company then recognizes as revenue the amount of the transaction price that is allocated to the respective performance obligation when (or as) the performance obligation is satisfied.


If the Company performs by transferring goods or services to a customer before the customer pays consideration or before payment is due, the Company records a contract asset, excluding any amounts presented as accounts receivable. The Company includes contract assets as unbilled accounts receivable on its consolidated balance sheets. The Company records accounts receivable for amounts billed to the customer for which the Company has an unconditional right to consideration. The Company assesses contract assets and accounts receivable for impairment and, to date, no impairment losses have been recorded.


From time to time, the Company may enter into agreements that are within the scope of ASC 606. The terms of these arrangements typically include payment to the Company of one or more of the following: non-refundable, up-front license fees or prepaid research and development services; development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments; and royalties on net sales of licensed products. Each of these payments results in license and collaboration revenues, except for revenues from royalties on net sales of licensed products, which will be classified as royalty revenues.


The Company analyzes its collaboration arrangements to assess whether they are within the scope of ASC 808, Collaborative Arrangements (“ASC 808”), to determine whether such arrangements involve joint operating activities performed by parties that are both active participants in the activities and exposed to significant risks and rewards dependent on the commercial success of such activities. This assessment is performed throughout the life of the arrangement based on changes in the responsibilities of all parties in the arrangement. For collaboration arrangements within the scope of ASC 808 that contain multiple elements, the Company first determines which elements of the collaboration are deemed to be within the scope of ASC 808 and those that are more reflective of a vendor-customer relationship and therefore within the scope of ASC 606. For elements of collaboration arrangements that are accounted for pursuant to ASC 808, an appropriate recognition method is determined and applied consistently, generally by analogy to ASC 606. For those elements of the arrangement that are accounted for pursuant to ASC 606, the Company applies the five-step model described above.

Prior to January 1, 2018, the Company analyzed arrangements with multiple deliverables based on the guidance in ASC Topic 605-25, Revenue Recognition—Multiple Element Arrangements (“ASC 605-25”). Pursuant to the guidance in ASC 605-25, the Company evaluated multiple element arrangements to determine (1) the deliverables included in the arrangement and (2) whether the individual deliverables represent separate units of accounting or whether they must be accounted for as a combined unit of accounting. This evaluation involved subjective determinations and required management to make judgements about the individual deliverables and whether such deliverables were separate from other aspects of the contractual relationship. Deliverables were considered separate units of accounting provided that: (i) the delivered item(s) had value to the customer on a standalone basis and (ii) if the arrangement included a general right of return relative to the delivered item(s), delivery or performance of the undelivered item(s) was considered probable and substantially within control of the Company.

The Company recognized arrangement consideration allocated to each unit of accounting when all of the revenue recognition criteria in ASC 605 were satisfied for that particular unit of accounting. In the event that a deliverable did not represent a separate unit of accounting, the Company recognized revenue from the combined unit of accounting over the contractual or estimated performance period for the undelivered items, which was typically the term of its research and development obligations. If there was no discernible pattern of performance or objectively measurable performance measures did not exist, then the Company recognized revenue under the arrangement on a straight-line basis over the period it expected to complete its performance obligations, or upon completion when the final act was of such significance to the overall arrangement that performance would not have substantively occurred until the completion of that act. Conversely, if the pattern of performance over which the service was provided to the customer could not be determined and objectively measurable performance measures existed, then the Company recognized revenue under the arrangement using the proportional performance method.

Research and Development

Expenditures relating to research and development are expensed in the period incurred. Research and development expenses consist of both internal and external costs associated with the development of our gene control platform and product candidates. Research and development costs include salaries and benefits, materials and supplies, external research, preclinical and clinical development expenses, stock-based compensation expense and facilities costs. Facilities costs primarily include the allocation of rent, utilities, depreciation and amortization.

In certain circumstances, the Company is required to make nonrefundable advance payments to vendors for goods or services that will be received in the future for use in research and development activities. In such circumstances, the nonrefundable advance payments are deferred and capitalized, even when there is no alternative future use for the research and development, until related goods or services are provided.

The Company records accruals for estimated ongoing research costs. When evaluating the adequacy of the accrued liabilities, the Company analyzes progress of the work being performed, including the phase or completion of the event, invoices received and costs. Significant judgements and estimates may be made in determining the accrued balances at the end of any reporting period. Actual results could differ from the Company’s estimates.

The Company may in-license the rights to develop and commercialize product candidates. For each in-license transaction the Company evaluates whether it has acquired processes or activities along with inputs that would be sufficient to constitute a “business” as defined under U.S. GAAP. A “business” as defined under U.S. GAAP consists of inputs and processes applied to those inputs that have the ability to create outputs. Although businesses usually have outputs, outputs are not required for an integrated set of activities to qualify as a business. When the Company determines that it has not acquired sufficient processes or activities to constitute a business, any up-front payments, as well as milestone payments, are immediately expensed as acquired research and development in the period in which they are incurred.

Stock-Based Compensation Expense


The Company accounts for its stock-based compensation awards in accordance with ASC 718, Compensation—Stock Compensation (“ASC 718”). ASC 718 requires all stock-based payments to employees and directors, including grants of restricted stock units and stock option awards, to be recognized as expense in the consolidated statements of operations based on their grant date fair values. Effective January 1, 2019, grants of restricted stock units and stock option awards to other service providers, referred to as non-employees, are measured based on the grant-date fair value of the award and expensed in the Company’s consolidated statement of operations over the vesting period. Through December 31, 2018, grants of restricted stock unit and stock option awards to non-employees were required to be recognized as expense in the consolidated statements of operations based on their vesting date fair values. The Company estimates the fair value of stock options granted using the Black-Scholes option-pricing model. Prior to June 30, 2016, the Company was a private company and, therefore, lacks Company-specific historical and implied volatility information. As a result, the Company estimates its expected stock volatility based on the historical volatility of a publicly traded set of peer companies and expects to continue to do so until such time as it has adequate historical data regarding the volatility of its own traded stock price. The expected term of the Company’s stock options has been determined utilizing the “simplified” method for awards that qualify as “plain-vanilla” options. Through December 31, 2018, the expected term of stock options granted to non-employees was equal to the contractual term of the option award. Effective January 1, 2019, the expected term of stock options to non-employees can be determined using either the contractual term of the option award or the “simplified” method. The risk-free interest rate is determined by reference to the U.S. Treasury yield curve in effect at the time of grant of the award for time periods approximately equal to the expected term of the award. Expected dividend yield is based on the fact that the Company has never paid cash dividends and does not expect to pay any cash dividends in the foreseeable future. The Company uses the value of its common stock to determine the fair value of restricted stock awards.


The Company expenses the fair value of its stock-based awards to employees and non-employees on a straight-line basis over the associated service period, which is generally the vesting period. The Company accounts for forfeitures as they occur instead of estimating forfeitures at the time of grant. Ultimately, the actual expense recognized over the vesting period will be for only those options that vest.


Compensation expense for discounted purchases under the employee stock purchase plan is measured using the Black-Scholes model to compute the fair value of the lookback provision plus the purchase discount and is recognized as compensation expense over the offering period.


For stock-based awards that contain performance-based milestones, we record stock-based compensation expense in accordance with the accelerated attribution model. Management evaluates when the achievement of a performance-based milestone is probable based on the expected satisfaction of the performance conditions as of the reporting date. For certain of our performance-based awards, notwithstanding any vesting in accordance with the achievement of performance-based milestones, such awards vest in full on the sixth anniversary of the vesting commencement date. Compensation expense for such awards is recognized over the six-year vesting period unless management determines that the achievement of any performance-based milestones is probable, in which case expense is accelerated.

Income Taxes

The Company accounts for uncertain tax positions using a more-likely-than-not threshold for recognizing and resolving uncertain tax positions. The evaluation of uncertain tax positions is based on factors including, but not limited to, changes in the law, the measurement of tax positions taken or expected to be taken in tax returns, the effective settlement of matters subject to audit, new audit activity, and changes in facts or circumstances related to a tax position.

Net Loss per Share

Basic net earnings per share applicable to common stockholders is calculated by dividing net earnings applicable to common stockholders by the weighted average shares outstanding during the period, without consideration for common stock equivalents. Diluted net earnings per share applicable to common stockholders is calculated by adjusting the weighted average shares outstanding for the dilutive effect of common stock equivalents outstanding for the period, determined using the treasury-stock method and the if-converted method. For purposes of the calculation of dilutive net loss per share applicable to common stockholders, stock options, unvested restricted stock units, and warrants are considered to be common stock equivalents but are excluded from the calculation of diluted net loss per share applicable to common stockholders, as their effect would be anti-dilutive; therefore, basic and diluted net loss per share applicable to common stockholders were the same for all periods presented.

The following common stock equivalents were excluded from the calculation of diluted net loss per share applicable to common stockholders for the periods indicated because including them would have had an anti-dilutive effect:




As of December 31,












Stock options














Unvested restricted stock units







































The weighted average number of common shares used in net loss per share applicable to common stockholders on a basic and diluted basis were 40,222,182, 32,656,237 and 25,406,845 shares for the years ended December 31 2019, 2018 and 2017, respectively.


Recent Accounting Pronouncements

In April 2019, the FASB issued ASU No. 2019-04, Codification Improvements to Topic 326 Financial Instruments – Credit Losses, Topic 815, Derivatives and Hedging, and Topic 825 (“ASU 2019-04”). ASU 2019-04 clarifies the accounting treatment for the measurement of credit losses under ASC 236 and provides further clarification on previously issued updates including ASU 2017-12, Derivatives and Hedging (Topic 815): Targeted Improvements to Accounting for Hedging Activities and ASU 2016-01, Financial Instruments—Overall (Subtopic 825-10): Recognition and Measurement of Financial Assets and Financial Liabilities. ASU 2019-04 is effective for fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2020, including interim periods within those fiscal years. Early adoption is permitted. The Company is currently in the process of evaluating the new standard but does not anticipate ASU 2019-14 will have a material impact on its consolidated financial statements and related disclosures.  

In November 2018, the FASB issued ASU No. 2018-18, Collaborative Arrangements (Topic 808): Clarifying the Interaction between Topic 808 and Topic 606, Revenue from Contracts with Customers (“ASU 2018-18”). ASU 2018-18 (1) clarifies that certain transactions between collaborative arrangement participants should be accounted for under ASC 606, when the collaborative arrangement participant is a customer in the context of a unit of account, (2) adds unit-of-account guidance in ASC 808 to align with ASC 606 when an entity is assessing whether the collaborative arrangement, or a part of the arrangement, is within the scope of ASC 606, (3) precludes presenting transactions together with revenue when those transactions involve collaborative arrangement participants that are not directly related to third parties and are not customers. The standard will be effective for fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2019, and interim periods within those fiscal years, with early adoption permitted. The company is currently evaluating the impact of adoption of ASU 2018-18 on its consolidated financial statements and related disclosures.

In August 2018, the FASB issued ASU No. 2018-13, Fair Value Measurements (Topic 820) (“ASU 2018-13”), which provides for changes to the disclosure requirements for recurring and nonrecurring fair value measurements under Topic 820. ASU 2018-13 is effective for fiscal years and interim periods within those fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2019. Provisions of ASU 2018-13 including changes in unrealized gains and losses, the range and weighted average of significant unobservable inputs used to develop Level 3 fair value measurements, and the narrative description of measurement uncertainty are required to be applied prospectively for only the most recent interim or annual period presented in the initial fiscal year of adoption. All other amendments in ASU 2018-13 will be applied retrospectively to all periods presented upon their effective date. Early adoption is permitted upon issuance of ASU 2018-13. The Company is currently in the process of evaluating the new standard but does not anticipate ASU 2018-13 will have a material impact on its consolidated financial statements and related disclosures.  

Recently Adopted Accounting Pronouncements

In February 2016, the FASB issued ASU No. 2016-02, Leases (Topic 842) (“ASC 842”), which applies to all leases and requires lessees to record most leases on the balance sheet but recognize expense in a manner similar to the previous standard. ASC 842 is effective for fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2018 and interim periods within those years and, as such, is effective starting January 1, 2019 for the Company. Entities are required to use a modified retrospective approach of adoption for leases that exist or are entered into after the beginning of the earliest comparative period in the financial statements. Full retrospective application is prohibited. The modified retrospective approach includes a number of optional practical expedients primarily focused on leases that commenced before the effective date of ASC 842, including continuing to account for leases that commence before the effective date in accordance with previous guidance, unless the lease is modified. In July 2018, the FASB issued ASU No. 2018-11, Leases: Targeted Improvements, which clarifies ASC 842 and provides companies with an optional transition method. The optional transition method allows for companies to adopt ASC 842 as of the January 1, 2019 adoption date and record a cumulative catch-up to related earnings during the period of adoption. The Company adopted ASC 842 on January 1, 2019 and elected to use the practical expedients and therefore the Company is only presenting right-of-use assets and lease liabilities as of the adoption date and additionally elected to not reassess the classification of leases executed prior to the January 1, 2019 adoption date. The Company has also elected the practical expedient provided under ASC 842 for its operating and finance leases and will combine lease and non-lease components at the time of execution of the applicable lease. The primary effect of the new standard, as of the adoption date, was the recording of a right-of-use asset and lease liability for the operating lease for the Company’s former office and laboratory facility at 620 Memorial Drive, Cambridge, Massachusetts. As of the January 1, 2019 adoption date, the Company recorded (i) a lease liability of $2.2 million, of which $1.1 million was classified as short-term and $1.1 million as long-term, which represented the present value of remaining lease payments as of the adoption date, discounted using an incremental borrowing rate of 10% and (ii) a right-of-use asset of approximately $1.5 million classified as long-term, which represented a corresponding amount to the lease liability of $2.2 million adjusted for deferred rent of approximately $0.7 million. The Company also had two immaterial capital leases that, as of the adoption date, were classified as financing leases, with the underlying assets recorded as part of property and equipment, net, in the Company’s consolidated balance sheets.

In June 2018, the FASB issued ASU No. 2018-07, Compensation -Stock Compensation (Topic 718): Improvements to Nonemployee Share-Based Payment Accounting (“ASU 2018-07”). ASU 2018-07 aims to simplify the accounting for share-based payments to nonemployees by aligning it to the accounting for share-based payments to employees including determining the fair value of the award on the date of grant and recognizing the stock-based compensation expense as of the respective vesting date. The new standard also requires companies to elect to either measure the awards to non-employees over an estimated expected term or contractual term as well as elect to estimate forfeitures or account for forfeitures as they occur. ASU 2018-07 is effective for fiscal years and interim periods within those fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2018 and is to be adopted using a modified retrospective approach with a cumulative catch-up to retained earnings recorded for equity-classified awards for which a measurement date has not been established as of the date of adoption. The Company adopted ASU 2018-07 effective January 1, 2019, and the adoption of the new standard did not have a material impact on the Company’s consolidated financial statements and related disclosures.