Dendreon CEO John Johnson: ‘This is My Last Stop’

4/17/12Follow @xconomy

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the other products Mark [Frohlich] talked about. The question is, how do you prepare the organization to do that? We’ve had turnover on the commercial side, and we’ve had a U.S.-centric view. What I wanted to do was bring stability, and bring a mindset that’s global and that was also focused on the R&D side as well. What Joe [DePinto] has done through his career is not only manage the U.S. piece, but he also managed J&J’s international business. He’s a leader who knows the R&D process, and has worked in international markets. I felt like we needed that skill set.

We’re now saying to ourselves, what are we going to do globally? How are we going to do this? Christine [Mikail], part of her role in past couple companies, has been to help them begin to plan out their global strategies. At ImClone, she worked for me there. She set up the office in Germany. She started a base of operations in Europe. She knows the different pieces we need. We have said publicly we’ll strike a contract manufacturing agreement in Europe. And Christine is a very accomplished dealmaker. I think she’ll add a lot in how we build this product out. We’re going to do contract manufacturing, but are we going to go it alone in Europe or not? Asia is an area with terrific potential. Japan is a culture that focuses on lower side-effect compounds, and that bodes well for Provenge. China is an interesting market. I want someone on the team who has looked at that kind of thing, and planned strategy.

I also wanted to flatten the organization a bit. Joe [DePinto] reports direct to me, Bob reports direct to me. We don’t have a COO anymore, that position was eliminated. I want this group of people sitting around the table discussing issues, and saying “What should we do, and how can we be all connected?”

X: Have you moved out here to Seattle?

JJ: No. I have a daughter in high school in New Jersey. Part of the discussion at the board, before I was a candidate, was that we need to open an East Coast office. When we discussed me coming into the role, I was very clear that I have a daughter in high school, and would need to split time between the coasts. So because [Dendreon] was already looking into the idea of an East Coast office, and because of the international expansion piece, it worked out for me. So we’ll open an office on the East Coast.

X: New York or New Jersey?

JJ: Probably New Jersey.

X: And this will not be at the same site as your New Jersey manufacturing operation?

JJ: No, it will be a business office.

X: So is that where you are going to work?

JJ: Yes. But when I say “be there,” I want to be clear that in the month of April, I’m in New Jersey for three days, counting weekends. So “being there” is a relative term, because most of the time, we’re on the road. I’d expect … Next Page »

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