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Monday, November 29, 2010

Biotech is Back Tonight

I've been typing away on this ridiculous forum of a blog since 2006. I'd left my latest job in biotech and I was at a loss to explain my life. Were these people honestly conducting what they thought science was or were they running a scam? I couldn't tell. So I started writing as a form of therapy. Why not, it was free.

It's 2010. The company I left back in 2006 is gone. They set a record on Wall Street for the rate of decreasing market capitalization. Impressive indeed. I moved onto another company that hasn't crashed yet, but in many ways could be more of a Cargo Cult than the previous company. I used the metaphor of fires along a cargo cult airport to track the comings and goings of the biotech companies. The fires have been burning out left and right since I began. Big ones like Zymogenetics, gone. Small ones like Homestead from Accelerator Corp. whom you never hear about. They just burn up a couple million bucks and they go away.

Tonight we have the Biotech Is Back forum taking place at the Path headquarters downtown. If you haven't seen this place let me set the stage. Paul Allen decided to "build it and they will come". He started building lab space, high rise apartments and high end commercial space to accommodate the well paid science community. In his "corridor" you will find a plethora of brand new spaces. As a fan of all things urban I am impressed and saddened that it is wasted on biotech. But there is a well funded high rise that houses the headquarters of PATH. Bill and Melinda Gates fund PATH, a non-profit organization that helps poor folk in third world places, including those in the good old USA. That doesn't mean the employees don't profit. They are living large. The ergonomic chairs in their cubicles are worth more than two years of the average salary of the people they are setting out to help in Africa. Tonight PATH will be hosting a forum where 4 of the few remaining biotech CEOs are going to try and make the case that biotech in Seattle is going to come roaring back.

I do not fault the sponsors. They are trying to make money. That's what good Americans do. I wish Biotechnology was into making money honestly for the sake of myself, our vendors and the people who need useful biotech products. But the forum, I fault! It's about bullshit. Biotech in Seattle is not back. It's the same people with the same tools trying to solve every problem in the same old ways.

In my next post I will compile a list of the companies that were here in the last ten years. You will see what happened and you can decide if biotech is back or not.

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