Who Should Biotech Pros Follow on Twitter? An Update for 2013
[Updated: 12:07 pm PT] Twitter is where the biotech industry comes to trade news, analysis, and gossip every day. This has been true for a couple years. The 140-character blogging platform just keeps gaining strength every day as more people join, more people figure out how they can contribute in a meaningful way, and more people learn what sources to tune in and tune out.
Last year, I attempted to compile my first list of people with interesting things to say about biotech on Twitter. Any essential biotech news feed, in my view, has to cast a pretty wide net to include people who know what they are talking about in a variety of fields. You need to follow certain scientists, physicians, company executives, journalists, venture capitalists, stock traders, and patient advocates who all have different perspectives.
Now that I’ve been using Twitter for more than four years, I’ve spent a fair bit of time filtering through different sources, or, you could say, weeding the garden. I still recommend the folks on that first list, but I’ve encountered quite a few others that weren’t worth following. If I don’t think you’re adding much to my stream of news and commentary on Twitter, I unfollow you. If you’ve been on Twitter for a year, and have only sent 10 Tweets, and they all say something like, ‘Wow, my company is so awesome, we totally care for patients, and visited sick children at the hospital today,’ then I’ll unfollow you. If all you do is pass along press releases, I’ll unfollow you. If you’re an investor and all you do is brag about your wins (while, naturally, ignoring your losses), I’ll unfollow you.
I’m sure quite a few other users on Twitter are doing this same thing—trying to find the signal and cut down on the noise. I’m always looking for people who have meaningful things to say and share. I’m not saying I agree with everything these people say, or that I endorse them, just that they add something of value to the industry conversation.
While I wish more people in the industry would join Twitter and let it rip, I understand it’s not for everybody. If you don’t have anything interesting to say, aren’t permitted by your company to say anything, or you’re just afraid you’ll say something bad for your business, there’s a simple answer: Don’t say anything. You can still join and follow what others are saying.
So, in that spirit, here are a bunch of new people that I’ve discovered in the past year, or people that I somehow forgot to include in last year’s list. If you have other suggestions, please shoot me a note on Twitter @ldtimmerman or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
@ksbosley Katrine Bosley is the former CEO of Bedford, MA-based Avila Therapeutics. This last week, she added her perspective as a venture-backed entrepreneur to a conversation about an interesting new crowdfunding initiative. She also sometimes sends out bio-humor: “This is very funny… @TheOnion Scientists Finally Pronounce Human Genome | ‘It’s Gatcaatgaggtggacaccagaggc…’
@biotech69 Ron Renaud is the CEO of Cambridge, MA-based Idenix Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: IDIX), and as the boss of a publicly traded company, he needs to be more careful about what he says than the average Joe. But he did show some intellectual curiosity with this recent message about how long it would take to fall down a tunnel through the Earth. “We have all wondered this at some point as a kid!”
@mkoeris Michael Koeris is the founder of Sample6, a diagnostics company in Boston. He recently tweeted: ”Bluebirdbio reports loss 6X worse than expected. welcome to the world of prexlinical public companies!”
@steen1969 Andy Steen is trying to build up a biotech cluster in Louisville, KY. He has plenty to say about regional economic development and startups.
@lindaavey Linda Avey, the co-founder of 23andMe and Curious Inc., has a lot to say about digital health, startups, and sometimes gender issues in business. She recently called out a well-known Silicon Valley investor for investing in a company called Bustle that seeks to serve female readers. “New media outlet, Bustle, apparently aimed at women. Ugh in so many ways.” She followed up directly with investor @davemcclure to say “you guys supported this? Say it isn’t so.” And he wrote back to defend the Bustle founder, saying “pls give him & the biz a chance b4 u make a decision.”
@divabiotech Ruby Gadelrab is a veteran of the genomics business, now at InVitae, an interesting startup led by Genomic Health co-founder Randy Scott.
@peterdilaura Peter is the CEO of Second Genome, a company focused on developing drugs based on the emerging science around the microbiome.