venture capital

The Real Deal: Sam Colella, Versant Ventures

Guest: Sam Colella, Co-Founder, Versant Ventures

Bio and Contact Info

Chapters: (Advance the marker)

1:05 Where did it all begin for you?

4:23 What's in your magic sauce?

9:50 How did you get involved with Fluidigm?

13:30 "Build to buy" model

17:23 Is there a way to match the VC model to the long biotech cycle times?

19:59 "We're the real deal"

Today we're excited to welcome a special guest to the program for a rare and exclusive interview. Sam Colella is being honored this year at the BayBio Pantheon Awards ceremony in December for a lifetime achievement award. We sat down with him in his office at 3000 Sand Hill Rd.

Encouraged into venture capital by Tom Perkins (indeed, Colella replaced Perkins at Spectra Physics as CEO when Perkins headed to work for Hewlitt and Packard), Colella has become a legendary figure in our industry for picking winners. Talking first about his early years in the industry, Sam goes on to discuss his magic sauce for picking companies that go on to achieve success. He's a co-founder of Versant Ventures where he and his partners have come up with an innovative "build to buy" model of funding.

Sam sits on several boards of directors including Fluidigm, Veracyte, and Genomic Health. He tells how he came to invest in Fluidigm, a company who has seen their stock shoot up this past quarter. Speaking with a poker face and steely blue eyes, Colella says he still falls in love with deals and is motivated by the huge medical needs that are still unmet.

"This isn't a fad," he says. "We're not a social media. We're the real deal."

Sponsor: Today’s show is brought to you by the 10th Annual BayBio Pantheon Ceremony, presenting the 2013 DiNA Awards on December 5 in San Francisco. The Pantheon Awards Ceremony is a celebration of the contributions and achievements of the Bay Area, a moment to pause and reflect on the industry’s legacy over three decades.

Nola Masterson: "Guru of Biotech"

Podcast brought to you by: Chempetitive Group - "We love science. We love marketing. We love the idea of combining the two to make great things happen for your marketing communications."

Guest: Nola Masterson, Founder, Science Futures

Bio and Contact Info

Chapters: (Advance the marker)

0:59 A career with many "firsts"

5:00 Some very creative financing models in the early days

9:11 Going for the "big one" and the founding of Sequenom

17:08 What excites you about the industry today?

20:10 Bioethics and the Dalai Lama

23:47 The open science conflict

26:16 Bullish about the IT industry bringing biotech into the 21st Century

28:25 A childhood dream come true

Today's show will give you some of everything. Our guest is Nola Masterson. She was the first biotech analyst on Wall Street, she's a founder of Sequenom, and she blazed trails in venture capital. Ever on the front lines, she reminisces about earlier times, but also weighs in on issues of today. What perspective has her career given her on bioethics? What does she think of the strong movement toward "open science." Never at a loss, Nola Masterson has been called "the guru of biotech."

The Best of Times, the Worst of Times with Bruce Jenett, DLA Piper

Podcast Sponsor: Ingenuity - iReport, the fastest and most accurate way to get biological meaning from your expression data. iReport/


Bruce Jenett, Partner, DLA PIPER Bio and Contact Info

Chapters: (Advance the marker)

0:49 Taking a macro look at the industry

3:54 The dirty secrets of VC

9:59 The myth that no one funds early stage company

17:31 An attorney in Silicon Valley is expected to help a company get funded

22:50 We're digging a gold mine with a teaspoon

27:58 What do you think of open collaboration?

36:10 Where do you go for your information?

Bruce Jenett is a partner at the global law firm, DLA Piper. Bruce has been in the industry for 30 years representing life science customers. He says the job of an attorney in this industry is to help their clients raise money. Bruce came up with the Dickensian title for today's show. From his perch, Bruce offers a macro picture of the industry and shares some of the dirty little secrets he's picked up along the way.

Life Science Version of "Cosi Fan Tutte" Plays in Napa, CA

Recently I met Dr. Robert Lee Kilpatrick, co-founder of TVG or Tech Vision Group. Robert is an industry thought leader who’s been around the life sciences for a long time and produces global life science events. Robert sees himself as a biotech gadfly, or one who shakes things up. I might call him an impresario, one who produces high level events with flair and taste. Robert has made sure that I don’t refer to his meetings as conferences. What then should we call them?

Asset Based Drug Development: Barbara Handelin, BioPontis Alliance

Podcast brought to you by: Assay Depot - the world's largest cloud-based marketplace for research services. With Assay Depot, you can easily find the perfect research service provider and manage your project from anywhere in the world.


Barbara Handelin, PhD, President, BioPontis Alliances Bio and Contact Info

Listen (6:02) BioPontis, an asset based model for drug development

Listen (8:04) Designing new incentives for academic researchers

Listen (6:07) First finding out where industry partners place value

Listen (3:54) Advantages of an overall view

Listen (6:11) How do you find the best science?

Listen (2:32) Why not create new companies?

Listen (8:32) Virtual model built on strong relationships and new agreements

Listen (4:36) Challenges for a virtual company

BioPontis Alliance is pursuing a new asset based model in drug development. That means the company sees drug candidates through from the original science to early phase without creating companies to develop each drug. Rather, through an alliance of university researchers, a venture fund, CROs and industry partners, BioPontis stays focused on the particular drug candidate, or asset. Dr. Barbara Handelin is the president of BioPontis. She is a veteran entrepreneur and molecular medical geneticist who has pioneered the responsible application of genetics to clinical medicine for over 25 years. In 1987 Dr. Handelin established one of the first commercial DNA testing laboratories at Integrated Genetics (now Genzyme Genetics). After co-founding a gene therapy company in 1995 (Genovo), Dr. Handelin began her own consulting practice, Handelin Associates. She served 10 years as a board member of Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research (PRIM&R) as well as on a variety of federal committees and advisory panels on ethics in genetic testing.

At BioPontis they are addressing critical problems in the industry. One of these is the misaligned incentives for academic researchers. It's so often the case today that researchers hold back important discoveries until they are able to publish in an important journal and so advance their career. BioPontis has designed agreements to address this protectionism, offering researchers incentives for collaborating more closely. Also, in doing away with the idea that you have to form a company for each new drug candidate--more overhead, more time, more cost--BioPontis focuses instead on 'assets', saving time and money. Barbara talks about the virtual model that's really a hybrid between venture fund and R & D and how this model could very well be the future.

Investing at the Intersections with Rowan Chapman, Mohr Davidow

Podcast Sponsor: Chempetitive Group - Adding "life" to life science marketing


Rowan Chapman, Mohr Davidow Bio and Contact Info

Listen (3:35) I've got a PhD, what next?

Listen (5:38) How did you become an investor?

Listen (6:14) Mohr Davidow investing in industry intersections

Listen (3:58) What can you tell start-ups about approaching VC?

Listen (4:17) Trends in life science funding

Listen (4:20) What hot spots excite you today?

Rowan Chapman is a partner at the VC firm, Mohr Davidow, and first dedicated member of the team devoted to life science. Rowan says she has a passion to work with entrepreneurs in a "hands on" role to help get companies started and financed. She’s a board member of four companies including Sequenta, VitaPath Genetics, and Health Tap and a board observer at Cardio Dx and Tethys Bioscience. Prior to that she worked closely with the board for PacBio, Paralelle, and RainDance. She has her finger on things all the way from tools, to social media, to diagnostics, to therapeutics. She is also a member of the Personalized Medicine Coalition. Prior to joining Mohr Davidow, Rowan held the position of director of business development at Rosetta Inpharmatics (acquired by Merck) We’re very happy to have her join us to talk about the investment side of the industry.