Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I'll take "potpourri" for $200, Alex

This one is just a bunch of observations I’ve made over the last few weeks. No priority; no order.

  • I hate to say “I told you so,” but everyone is now setting to print what I said when this all started – we’re going to have an OK year in 2010. “Flat” seems to be the order of the day. Accounting Management Solutions just conducted a survey on the 2010 outlook. I’ll be very interested to see the results. They do have a Life Sciences practice headed up by Dan Davis, but the survey was more broadly based, so we’ll have to take that into account in interpreting what it means for Life Sciences.

  • On a related note, Jack Derby in his monthly newsletter for December (worth subscribing to) talks about the changes taking shape in sales. He says:

    “My personal belief is that a couple of years from now, the most successful sales organizations will look back at 2010 as that time when they made the transition from the old, traditional, relationship sale to and demonstrated to their customers that they were no longer the approved vendors, but they had become their trusted partners.”
    Jack grew up as a sales guy, so views the world through that lens, and his focus is not exclusively Life Sciences. However, an interesting article from FiercePharma paints a similar picture from the Life Sciences perspective, suggesting that the old Pharma sales organizational model is in for massive change. Docs and regulators continue to raise barriers to Pharma reps detailing in their offices, and it turns out the formularies are the more important decision makers anyway. Since there are far fewer of them than there are docs, it doesn’t require the same field force.

  • This week’s Mass High Tech (12/16/09) was the Life Sciences Issue and included the list of the region’s largest biotech employers. (I wish I could provide a link here, but they don’t appear to put “The List” on line – only in the print edition.) Genzyme tops the group at 11K total employees generating $4.6B. In second is BiogenIdec with a total of 4,700 employees, but generating $4.1B. That’s $418K/employee for Genzyme, $872K/employee for BiogenIdec. Seems to indicate that BiogenIdec is about twice as productive as Genzyme. Maybe that’s why Adam Feuerstein is calling for Henry Termeer’s resignation at TheStreet.com.

  • I had breakfast with an unnamed VC last week and the discussion turned to the popular topic of the state of the VC industry. I have posted about that before, so won’t rehash it now, but as many who are far more literate on the topic than I have said, there’s trouble in River City (with a capital “T” and that rhymes with “C” and that stands for Capital). We were comparing notes on our respective forays into alternative occupations peri-college. We agreed: there are lots of really smart folks out there who, through a cosmic alignment of the stars, are not executives at biotechs. These are smart folks; solid business people; they understand costs and revenues and drivers just like any other executive. They just happened to choose their parents rather poorly. My experience in executive recruiting is similar. There are lots of rock stars out there who, for myriad reasons, are slogging it out at some small cubicle instead of the shiny offices of Kendall Square. Of course, one needs to be careful what one wishes for…