Why would anybody want to build a biotech company for the long term?
Nobody should cry a river for well-paid biotech executives, but there are easier ways to make a living. If you are good or lucky enough to go public, you may have a couple months before shareholders ridicule and second-guess your every move. They’ll call you delusional, a liar, greedy, and an egomaniac (which may or may not be true). Chances are you’ll fail or get fired. A few contrarian investors may have your back for the long haul, but many will agitate constantly for you to give them their own quick payday, which, incidentally would line your own pockets nicely, too.
Wouldn’t it be easier to do the most expedient thing to get that exit, quickly? Isn’t it tempting to take the shortcuts?
More to the point, if you really believe in long-term company building, then what kinds of things do you do when your business plan inevitably collides with reality? Specifically, when your company got into a tight spot, the kind that called the long-term plan into question, how did you get out of the squeeze?
I’m ruminating on these kinds of questions as I prep for a series of interviews at the Xconomy biotech event coming up on Monday in San Francisco, called “Building Biotechs to Last.” About 180 people have already signed up, but we still have some space left at UCSF’s Genentech Hall for those of you thinking about getting last-minute tickets.
The idea at this event is to flesh out a specific story each speaker has to tell about a turning point, or a tough decision, in which the executive or venture capitalist sought to put their company’s long-term strategy ahead of short-term considerations—even when it posed a serious risk to the company. Alkermes CEO Richard Pops recently shared an interesting story with me that fits this mold pretty well.
You can see the great lineup of speakers below who have agreed to share some of their stories about “Building Biotechs to Last.” I look forward to seeing lots of readers there in person. See you Monday.
1 pm. Registration and networking
2 pm. Welcome and Introductions. QB3 and Xconomy
2:05 pm Chris Garabedian, Sarepta Therapeutics (interviewed by Luke Timmerman)
2:25 pm Paul Hastings, OncoMed Pharmaceuticals (interviewed by Ellen Licking)
2:45 pm Stanley Crooke, Isis Pharmaceuticals (interviewed by Danny Levine)
3:05 pm Bonnie Anderson, Veracyte (interviewed by Dan Bradbury)
3:25 pm Break
4 pm Kim Popovits, Genomic Health (interviewed by Dan Bradbury)
4:20 pm Ashley Dombkowski, Bay City Capital (interviewed by Ellen Licking)
4:40 pm Hal Barron, president of R&D, Calico (interviewed by Luke Timmerman)
5 pm CLOSING VC Panel: Bryan Roberts, Venrock; Bob More, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Nina Kjellson, InterWest Partners (interviewed by Luke Timmerman)
5:30 pm Networking
6:30 pm End