William Lassgard

William Lassgard
Media
Image
A portrait of William Lassgard, wearing a dark blue suit with red tie and looking to the left of the camera.

William Lassgard in 2039.

Birth name

Ville Stefan Lassgård

Born

October 11th 1997 in Uppsala, Sweden

Disappeared

October 29th 2039 in Uppsala, Sweden

Died

October 4th 2049 (aged 51) in Saint Petersburg, Russia

Nationality

Swedish

Occupation

Biochemist, entrepreneur

Known for

Founder of Lassgard Bioteknik

Spouse(s)
  • Zou Yuelun (2027 - 2032)
  • LoriAnn Kierney (2034 - 2039)
Children
  • Charley Kierney (born 2035)
  • Asher Kierney (born 2037)

William Lassgard (born October 11th 1997 - disappeared October 29th 2039, died October 4th 2049) was a Swedish biochemist and entrepreneur who was best known as the president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Lassgard Bioteknik.

Born in Uppsala, Lassgard founded Lassgard Bioteknik in 2021 and grew it into a high-profile player in the field of aquaculture, eventually steering it to the top of the European and Asian seafood markets. In 2039, it was revealed that Lassgard Bioteknik’s farmed stock of Atlantic bluefin tuna, which by then accounted for 80% of worldwide tuna consumption, was the likely cause of the CMD pandemic.

In the ensuing scandal, Lassgard was held personally responsible and became the target of an intensive legal campaign. After numerous death threats and a failed attempt on his life, he went missing on October 29th 2039, with his disappearance remaining the subject of rumour and speculation.

On October 5th 2049, a body recovered in Saint Petersburg, Russia was identified as belonging to Lassgard. According to local authorities, he had been living there under an assumed identity since 2040.

Early life

William Lassgard was born Ville Stefan Lassgård on October 11th 1997 in Stockholm, Sweden. He was the only child of Mattias Lassgård and Ida Lassgård (née Olsson), who were both teachers at the Thoren Business School in Stockholm. After studying Molecular Biology and Genetics at the Karolinska Institute in 2019, Lassgard moved to Uppsala and applied for a joint research position at the Uppsala Science Park. His research project, which entailed the genetic modification of Atlantic halibut to reach sexual maturity in three years instead of ten, was completed in 2021 and made the modified halibut suitable for full-cycle aquaculture.

Lassgard Bioteknik

Founding

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Logo of Lassgard Bioteknik, showing the company name with a wave line between the words and leaves to represent the dots on the i's.

Lassgard Bioteknik logo.

On the advice of his friend Nils Törbacka, Lassgard founded Lassgard Bioteknik as a startup on August 5th 2021. After raising ¥33.7 million through crowdfunding and an initial offering of preferential shares, Lassgard hired a small staff and set up two aquaculture facilities in Uppsala for the sustainable farming of his hybrid Atlantic halibut. In 2024, Lassgard Bioteknik made its first sale of 2.5 tonnes of adult-sized Lassgard halibut.

Though Lassgard gave himself the title of president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Lassgard Bioteknik, he was not deeply involved in the day-to-day business operations. Törbacka had agreed to take on those duties in his role as chair so that Lassgard could focus on research and technological development (RTD) while still having a final say in the company’s overall direction. That direction was dictated by the fish species that Lassgard chose as candidates for genetic modification, which were all popular on the Asian seafood market. While the first cycle of Lassgard halibut was being farmed, Lassgard and his RTD team developed hybrid species of Atlantic salmon, red sea bream, Indian mackerel, and Atlantic bluefin tuna.

In September 2025, Lassgard and Törbacka finalised a deal with the European Union (EU) to buy out its failing TRANSDOTT project, which had been set up in 2012 to establish a commercially viable aquaculture for Atlantic bluefin tuna. [1] With the TRANSDOTT facilities in Malta refitted to farm Lassgard fish stock, Lassgard Bioteknik more than tripled its production capacity and achieved market penetration in nearly all EU nations that had participated in the TRANSDOTT project.

Expansion

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A photo of the glass facade of Lassgard Bioteknik's headquarters in Uppsala, Sweden.

Lassgard Bioteknik’s head office in Uppsala, Sweden.

In 2025, Lassgard began to frequently visit China and Japan to promote his company’s fish products for use in sushi. This campaign did not make any significant waves at first, but started resonating with consumers when Lassgard licensed the use of Zōng in August 2025 and appeared in a livestream on Douyin alongside Xu Shaoyong. Xu’s endorsement of Lassgard Bioteknik was seen as pivotal in making it a household name.

By 2029, Lassgard Bioteknik exported over half its stock to East Asia. At the same time, Lassgard’s RTD team was having trouble cracking the farming process for the company’s stock of Atlantic bluefin tuna. While the engineering process had been successful in creating a hybrid species that grew to sexual maturity in less than three years, no commercially developed fish meal was sufficient to close the tuna’s aquaculture cycle. Ultimately, Lassgard elected to use part of his company’s mackerel stock as a food source for the tuna in order to produce the tonnage required for entry in the Asian seafood market. When this was revealed as the reason for the cancellation of several pending deliveries of Lassgard mackerel to European buyers, the resulting drop in Lassgard Bioteknik’s share price reduced Lassgard’s net worth by ¥55.3 million overnight.

Lassgard anticipated that Lassgard tuna‘s introduction in East Asia would eventually recoup the losses, but it was valued poorly at seafood marketplaces because of its subpar consistency and flavour. Additionally, Lassgard tuna posed no meaningful challenge to the market dominance of Kindai Fisheries, which had served as chief supplier of farmed tuna in East Asia since 2022. Lassgard tuna’s failure became a source of personal embarrassment for Lassgard, causing him to lash out on social media and downplay the internal causes of the disappointing results.

Lassgard tuna

In 2030, Lassgard reduced his public appearances so he could take a more active role in his RTD team and spearhead the redesign of Lassgard tuna’s farming process, leaving Törbacka in charge of damage control. During his yearly earnings call on May 11th 2034, Lassgard announced that he and his team had developed a proprietary artificial feed that allowed Lassgard Bioteknik’s newly produced tuna stock to acquire additional body fat during its aquaculture cycle. When this new line of tuna was introduced in Japan, China, and South Korea in late 2034, it became a prized commodity in specialised sushi establishments, with chefs and patrons highlighting Lassgard tuna’s rich and creamy taste. Lassgard responded by organising a series of international sponsorship deals with popular media personalities.

After successfully edging out Kindai tuna in 2037, Lassgard Bioteknik’s newfound market dominance in East Asia was threatened by production problems, which resulted in reduced quotas and cancelled deliveries. Shareholders were concerned that Lassgard had overextended Lassgard Bioteknik’s value chain to give his redeveloped tuna the strongest possible start and was subsequently unable to meet the increasing demand. In June 2037, Lassgard claimed that his company’s facilities in Malta were experiencing unexpected downtime due to scalability issues.

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A publicity photo of Xu Shaoyong and William Lassgard sharing a plate of sushi in 2039, with Xu smiling and holding up some hoho-niku sushi while Lassgard is eating a vegetarian nori roll.

Xu Shaoyong (left) and William Lassgard (right) during a shared dinner at Xu’s favourite restaurant in Beijing, China in 2039.

The production slump motivated Xu to renew an earlier partnership proposal between Zhupao and Lassgard Bioteknik to install mariculture facilities for the farming of Lassgard tuna along China’s coastline. The idea was to reduce pressure on Lassgard Bioteknik’s farms in Europe and eliminate shipping costs, but Lassgard declined the offer and began construction on additional tuna farms in the Mediterranean instead. Although Lassgard Bioteknik’s production was back to capacity by 2038, Lassgard’s refusal of Xu’s offer led to a falling-out and heated arguments held in private and on social media. [2]

On January 15th 2039, Lassgard and Xu announced that the proposed partnership would officially go ahead, with Zhupao starting construction on Lassgard tuna mariculture facilities off the coast of Shandong province. To celebrate the partnership, Lassgard and Xu staged a shared dinner at Xu’s favourite restaurant in Beijing on January 18th 2039, enjoying rare cuts of hoho-niku sushi made with Lassgard tuna. In June 2039, Xu halted construction on the mariculture facilities in Shandong and cancelled Lassgard Bioteknik’s license to use Zōng in its marketing, which was immediately linked to allegations that Lassgard tuna was the cause of an unidentified foodborne illness first reported by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in January 2039.

Food poisoning scandal

Cover-up

On October 23rd 2039, World News Wire (WNW) began running a series of articles that confirmed allegations of a possible contaminant in Lassgard tuna that posed a significant biorisk to consumers. Based on a data leak of internal Lassgard Bioteknik documents and correspondence, the articles detailed the steps Lassgard had taken to conceal an epizootic which had been causing his company’s tuna stock to die off. This epizootic, which the WHO had identified as an outbreak of piscine transmissible amyloidotic encephalopathy (PTAE) in January 2039, had first appeared in 2037 and was responsible for that year’s drop in production.

When the leaked files were also given to the WHO, the resulting investigation determined the cause of the PTAE outbreak to be the proprietary artificial feed that was crucial to the fattening stage of Lassgard tuna’s farming cycle. While its official patent described this feed as a vegetable protein-based mix, it was actually rendered from bovine waste material purchased from the meat industry. This led to the discovery that PTAE is most likely a variant of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), which originated at one or several of Lassgard Bioteknik’s meat suppliers and was passed to the tuna through the feeding process.

Since the leaked files reflected that Lassgard had personally negotiated with abattoirs and factory farms, the WNW articles concluded that he was responsible for the decision to use processed bovine material as a feed stock for Lassgard tuna. The files also indicated that Lassgard had used off-the-shelf search algorithms to look for any cases of illness linked to a high consumption of Lassgard tuna. When the algorithm returned a hit on WedgeWoo in September 2038, Lassgard arranged for company officials in Japan to doctor WedgeWoo’s medical and dietary records in order to minimise any connection to Lassgard tuna.

When the WHO contacted Lassgard Bioteknik in January 2039 regarding the PTAE outbreak, Lassgard reacted by convincing other Big Fish companies to engage in a collaborative cover-up and disinformation campaign. This campaign would be maintained for as long as it took Lassgard Bioteknik to internally address the PTAE outbreak, which involved severing all ties with the meat industry and starting a fresh tuna farming cycle using one of the older feed stocks. Lassgard was also in the middle of setting up a comprehensive rebranding strategy when the first WNW articles were published in October 2039. When the WHO declared the outbreak of Cariappa-Muren disease (CMD) a pandemic on October 25th 2039, public opinion turned against Lassgard Bioteknik and painted Lassgard as the responsible party.

Assassination attempt

As the news of Lassgard Bioteknik’s role in the CMD pandemic spread and the WHO successfully banned the sale of Lassgard tuna, Lassgard’s net worth dropped to less than ¥50 billion and he became a target of legal action. Between October 25th and 28th 2039, over 300 different lawsuits and class actions were filed against his person. He was also presented with a motion of no confidence from his board of directors and began to receive numerous death threats.

On October 29th 2039, Swedish authorities arrived at Lassgard’s home in Uppsala to detain him under a European Arrest Warrant, which had been issued on multiple counts of aggravated negligence and endangerment. When they forced their way into the house, the arresting officers found that Lassgard was missing and treated the premises as a crime scene. An investigation conducted by Interpol determined that Lassgard had been the victim of a concerted cyberattack, which was later ruled an assassination attempt. Various individuals and groups claimed responsibility for the attack, but the investigation had come to no definite conclusion as to the identity of the perpetrator(s).

A forensic reconstruction of the cyberattack indicated that it involved a two-pronged strategy. At 03:00 CET on October 29th 2039, Lassgard’s medical colloid, which had been implanted to treat the chronic pain he suffered as a result of degenerative disc disease (DDD), was brainjacked to maximise his back pain and immobilise him in his bed. At 03:10 CET, his home’s domotics were stripped of their safeguards and turned against him, which included locking all the doors and windows, disabling the alarms, turning off the water supply, and manipulating the HVAC system to raise the ambient temperature to over 130 °C with the intent of inducing hyperthermia. With all video surveillance records deleted after the attack, it is unknown how Lassgard was ultimately able to escape, as there were no signs of a forced exit from the house.

In the weeks following his disappearance, the EU’s collective redress policy allowed for the cases against Lassgard to be tried in absentia, with his assets seized to cover the settlements. Interpol’s Red Notice for Lassgard’s arrest remained in effect until November 2040, when it was upgraded to a Special Notice at the request of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). Claimed sightings and rumours of his whereabouts had fueled various conspiracy theories regarding his fate, with the prevailing theory that Lassgard was infected with CMD or had died from it, as he was repeatedly shown consuming Lassgard tuna for marketing purposes.

Death

On October 5th 2049, a body recovered in Saint Petersburg, Russia was identified as belonging to Lassgard. According to local authorities, he had been living there under an assumed identity since 2040. The cause of death has been established as suicide by hanging. On October 8th 2049, Johan Toresson, one of the arresting officers who entered Lassgard’s home on October 29th 2039, claimed that Lassgard never managed to escape the cyberattack, and that he was found near-death in his bed. The Swedish government has not commented on Toresson’s claims.

Personal life

Lassgard changed his first name to its English form and dropped the overring from his surname in 2021, reasoning that “when they write about me and my company, I don’t want them being annoyed at having to work in that special å every time.” [3]

Lassgard was introduced to actor Zou Yuelun by Xu at a karaoke bar in Beijing, China. They married in 2027 and separated in 2032. He began dating reporter LoriAnn Kierney two months after his separation from Zou. They had met when Kierney profiled him for Forbes in 2029. Although there were rumours that they were already romantically involved while Lassgard was married to Zou, he maintained that he had been “nothing but faithful, despite the immediate connection between LoriAnn and myself.”

Lassgard and Kierney married in 2034 and had two children, a daughter named Charley (born in 2035) and a son named Asher (born in 2037). They drifted apart in the following years, which they attributed to their incompatible work schedules. Kierney ultimately left Lassgard and moved out of their home in Uppsala on October 10th 2039, one day before his 42nd birthday. Divorce and custody proceedings, which had already been set in motion when Lassgard disappeared, were finalised by mid-December.

Social media presence

Lassgard was notorious for his prolific use of social media, which he used to become the public face of his company. He was also suspected of using bot networks to harass and threaten his critics. As a leading figure in the aquaculture industry, he often found himself in the crosshairs of environmental organisations taking issue with fish farming and its impact on local ecosystems. Lassgard regularly published lengthy posts and vlogs in which he took aim at individuals who were critical of him or his company. As a result, he was often sued for defamation, which would lead to countersuits, out-of-court settlements, and repeated Lassgard Bioteknik share price fluctuations.

See also

References

  1. Bridges, C. (August 2012). “Translation of domestication of Thunnus thynnus into an innovative commercial application.” transdott.eu
  2. Åkesson, N. (October 2039). “Leaked correspondence between Xu Shaoyong and William Lassgard paints dramatic picture.” Dagens Nyheter
  3. Kierney, L. (May 2029). “Bigger Fish To Fry: An Interview With William Lassgard.” Forbes