Dig around in the old files from Icos, and a few things jump out. There were a lot of smart people who worked hard, and clearly enjoyed working together. A lot of sweat equity went into turning it from an R&D shop into a “fully integrated” company with a product to sell.
Much of this cultural vibe came back to me this week as I flipped through Icos annual reports at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business Library. I know it may sound quaint now, but back in the days before everything went on the Web, companies spent money to print up glossy annual reports with fancy photography, illustrations, and graphics that were meant to pump up employees and stockholders. As I get ready for our big “Icos Impact” event on Nov. 27, this is one of the best resources still around for learning about the culture that made one of Seattle’s trailblazing biotech companies go. Thanks also to Mike Gallatin for sharing a couple of great photos—one from the early days of the company and one from a more recent reunion.
Here are a few photos I’ve gathered from the various Icos files, along with a few of the inspiring messages that employees wrote for posterity. One such note from the 1999 annual report—in handwriting that looks like the work of a professional calligrapher!—Patrick Gray, the vice president of science, talked about inspiration in biotech. He said: “Getting people inspired has never been a problem. All around me are great individuals: spirited, dedicated, curious and self-motivated. Each of them generates a tremendous amount of enthusiasm, which makes this a very exciting and dynamic place.”
Gray, now a scientific fellow at Omeros, said he has fond memories of working on those reports. “George (Rathmann) always wanted a nice presentation, and the group we contracted always did a good job.”
We have more than 100 people registered for the “Icos Impact” event so far, and I’m hoping we’ll see many more of the Icos alumni and their friends from around the Seattle biotech community on Nov. 27. This will be a great chance to connect and re-connect with many of the folks who dreamed big then and are still doing it now. See you there Nov. 27.
Luke Timmerman is the National Biotech Editor of Xconomy. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org