It’s mid-January, and in biotech that means only one thing—it’s time for the annual industry pilgrimage known as the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference. I’m here as always, attending the meeting in San Francisco’s Union Square that draws most of this fragmented industry’s major investors, biotech executives, and pharma dealmakers in one place for a frenzy of networking.
The mood is undoubtedly going to be brighter than it was last year, probably because last year could hardly have been worse. I vividly remember one CEO telling me last January that his nightmare scenario was that things would get so depressed that a biotech company could cure cancer, and investors wouldn’t care. Not only was the fear misplaced, the Amex Biotech Index of major biotech company stocks actually climbed 45 percent in 2009.
I’m not planning to spend a lot of my time assessing the mood, since it’s so often an unreliable predictor of what’s to come anyway. Biotechies by their nature (last year’s CEO notwithstanding) have to be optimistic to think they can succeed in such a risky business, so they’ll typically say a bunch of optimistic things. So this year, like last year, I’m going to concentrate my energy on in person meetings with a lot of biotech players from Boston, San Diego, and Seattle—all three geographic clusters where I cover and oversee the local life sciences beat for Xconomy. Since I live in far-away Seattle and do a lot of my reporting by phone, this is a great time for me to schedule a lot of interviews with innovative companies, big and small, in a very efficient way. My goal is to dig up all kinds of original material that you won’t find from any other source, and keep the scoops and insights flowing throughout the year.
I have a full slate of meetings on my calendar between now and mid-day Thursday, but if you’re a reader here in San Francisco and would like to just say hello and chat a few minutes, don’t hesitate to shoot me a note. The best way to catch my attention is to shoot me a message on my BlackBerry at firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a great conference.
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