Q&A With Doug Williams: Reflecting on ZymoGenetics, Looking Ahead at Seattle Biotech

11/9/10Follow @xconomy

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how they looked at it. They were exceedingly happy with the way the deal came down, and the price we got. Essentially it was next year’s price with no risk.

In terms of lambda, I agree with your premise that it could be a very big drug. But we all have to recognize it is still in Phase 2b, and we haven’t seen the final data yet. And the big question, the one no one can answer at this point, is what will the ongoing role of interferons be in combination regimens. We’ve talked about what our perspective is, but that perspective is not completely accepted in the investor community. That’s where some of the discounting of the value of lambda has come from, in the Wall Street crowd. A lot of them believe what Vertex has been saying, which is that small molecules and ribavirin combination should be enough. I don’t believe that myself, but I don’t actually have the data yet to prove that wrong. All of these factors contribute to where the company was from a value perspective.

X: Going back to where I started, what are you going to do next? This was your first shot as a CEO, and purely from a financial perspective, the stock was a $3.22 when you got named the CEO, and you sold at $9.75. So there will be a lot of shareholders who are happy about that. What is your preference? Do you want to be a CEO at a small or mid-cap biotech, do you want to do a startup? What are the options you are mulling?

DW: You’ve hit the $64,000 question for me. The question is ‘do I want to do another role as CEO’ presumably at a smaller company, or do I want to go back to my roots and essentially manage a larger R&D portfolio? I don’t know the answer to that question yet. I’m looking at things that run the gamut from startup to companies that have raised a couple of rounds of financing and need a CEO, to some companies that have an existing CEO but need to do more deals and to get to the next level, they need somebody new, or bigger companies that need an R&D head. I’m casting my net as wide as I can, and looking at everything that people have stuck under my nose at this point. But I haven’t made any decisions, and am trying to sort through in my own head, in this next chapter, what do I want to do, and who do I want to do it with?

X: Are you getting a lot of lobbying from your friends in the community to stay in Seattle? I can imagine you are, because when I think about who the executives are in this town who can get the backing needed to start something, there’s you, and there aren’t a whole lot of other people like that. Are you hearing that kind of sentiment?

DW: I am. … Next Page »

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