Drugs don’t just roll out of anybody’s lab by next Tuesday, and then keep popping out on some exponential curve. The biotech industry depends on investors who are willing to speculate on hot ideas in science, and wait years to see a payoff that may never come.
That notion, which has been with the industry since the beginning, runs against the grain in a world increasingly obsessed with the idea of magical overnight success. People want to invest today and get their returns by next quarter. If they don’t, it’s time to sell, sell, sell and start prowling for the next Instagram.
How can a biotech company, which typically needs at least 10-15 years to create real value because of the nature of biology and clinical trials, survive in such a world? Many companies have responded by slashing R&D budgets, cutting corners in clinical development, or doing shotgun marriage megamergers to keep investors happy in the short term. Never mind the long-term damage those decisions may cause.
This tension, the need to balance the short term and long term, is at the heart of the next big Xconomy San Francisco event on Dec. 9. This gathering, “Profiles in Perseverance: Building Biotechs to Last” will bring together biotech leaders from around the country to share some previously untold stories about tough, risky, or unpopular decisions they’ve made to stubbornly advance the long-term interests of their companies.
We have assembled a dynamite lineup of speakers who believe deeply in long-term company building, and are eager to join this conversation with Xconomy in San Francisco on Dec. 9.
Here’s who has confirmed so far:
—Bryan Roberts, partner, Venrock Associates
This event, like all of the conferences we do at Xconomy, is designed to be lively and interactive. I plan to personally interview each of these speakers on stage to flesh out their stories, and make it easy for people in the audience to ask questions, too. There will also be plenty of break time for 1-on-1 networking.
As always, we are offering discounted tickets to students, people who live on Ramen noodles at startups, and for anybody else who registers early. Prices will go up as we get closer to the event. So my advice is to get your tickets sooner rather than later, especially since we can only get about 225 people into the Byers Auditorium at UCSF’s Genentech Hall.
On a personal note, I plan to walk into this event on Dec. 9, or maybe hobble, because I will have run the California International Marathon in Sacramento the day before. My big, hairy audacious goal is to beat my personal best marathon time by 12 minutes, and run the race in 3 hours flat (yeah, maybe 3:05 is more realistic). That may make me a glutton for punishment, but training for this goal reminds me every day of how good things can come to those who set tough goals that take time, and sacrifice, to achieve. I think those are concepts a lot of biotech companies can relate to. So please join me and the Xconomy crew for this important, and interesting conversation about biotech in SF on Dec. 9.