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

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what’s there, what the programs are, and how to best utilize the talent.

X: Who from the local management team will be involved in those decisions?

DW: Jim Johnson (the former ZymoGenetics chief financial officer) is the leader of the integration team from the Zymo side, along with Lennie Ramos, the chief medical officer. The two of them have been point people on the whole integration process. They will be primary spokespeople. But it’s already a situation in which I understand a number of Bristol folks have come out after the deal closed and are talking with leaders of different parts of the organization here in Seattle.

X: Have you had a little time to think and reflect on your experience as CEO at ZymoGenetics? Are there some lessons learned there from these past couple years?

DW: Yes, I have. I’ll actually have a lot more time to think about it, because I leave (Monday) night for New Zealand, where I’ll be for two weeks to basically drive around the bottom of the South Island and do some thinking about my time at Zymo and what I want to do next.

I’ve certainly thought about my time at the helm, and a lot happened in a short span of time. From the time I came in there, we started right off with restructuring the company, knowing we really had to make some changes to the business model, given the way the markets were behaving, and given the perceptions of the company on Wall Street. We needed to continue to fund the organization, so we knew we had to make some changes. That’s where the management team really became a cohesive unit as we worked through all those difficult decisions we had to make in the 12 months that was 2009 and the first part of 2010. It was a tumultuous time. But I feel we did all the things we needed to do to create what was a healthy and viable company with a really solid pipeline. The reality is that all the steps we took to make the company viable and focused on its best assets were the things that arguably made us attractive as an acquisition target. When you create the strongest possible business, that also allowed Bristol to take a look at the company and decide that they liked what they saw. They liked the assets, and they knew us pretty well from the pegylated interferon lambda collaboration, so it made sense to acquire the whole company.

X: You made reference to the perception on Wall Street. And I’ve got to ask, given the disappointing Recothrom launch in 2008, was that a hole that you just felt you could never dig yourself out of, and that the Street would really never fairly reward ZymoGenetics shareholders for everything you did and tried to afterward?

DW: I think it was a situation a lot like the launch of Leukine, which disappointed people back in the Immunex days. We had to prove … Next Page »

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