Sermo Changes Strategy to Gain More Pharma Business, CEO Declines to Discuss Layoff Talk

12/7/09

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for the company. The deal was struck in October 2008, a month after the collapse of Lehman Brothers and meltdown of other financial services firms.

“2009 is a lost year for financial services,” Palestrant says. “We’ve really tried to service our existing financial services clients while focusing on where the lion’s share of our revenue comes from, which is pharma.”

The growth of the company’s community of doctors appears to have slowed in 2009 as well. Based on figures from Sermo, the community grew from 50,000 to 90,000 physicians in 2008. The firm says that its community has added about 20,000 more physicians this year. Palestrant said, however, that activation among community members has grown by about 50 percent this year, but he didn’t provide specifics on how the company defines this measurement, or how active all of the physicians are. He noted Sermo has made a major push to improve the user experience with a next-generation Web platform, into which the firm has put 85 percent of its engineering efforts this year and plans to launch in 2010.

On the financing front, Palestrant says that his company has money to meet its future needs. There are plenty of investors that want to back his firm, Palestrant says, but he would not comment on whether the firm plans to raise another round of venture capital. Sermo board member Paul Margolis, a partner at Waltham, MA-based Longworth Venture Partners, told me last week that his firm would continue to fund the startup if it raises more money. He deferred all comments on Sermo’s finances to Palestrant.

Sermo raised $39.2 million in venture capital through three rounds of financing from September 2006 to September 2007, according to the firm’s website. The company’s investors include Longworth, Softbank Capital, and Legg Mason Capital Management.

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