It's Goose Data's (online) world, and biotechs are just sitting ducks

We take protecting anonymous sources around here seriously. You’ll rarely see us use them—we always prefer and push for on-the-record comments—so when we do, you know the subject is important.

That’s the case for the following interview. This person is, you might say, a silly goose. That’s right, Fierce Biotech has tracked down the X, formerly Twitter, biotech meme champion who goes by the alias of Goose Data and has a cult following including yours truly. After chuckling on the daily at the memes from this account, we had to learn more about the person behind the jokes that transcend Biotech Twitter—if of course, you participate in this truly niche and nerdy online space. And we did. But we’re not going to tell you any identifying information, to protect Goose’s anonymity and ensure the memes keep on honking.

This is a goose. For all we know, it could even be Goose Data.  (578foot/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Let’s start with a short, identity-protected bio: This person currently works in biopharma. Goose Data was born from some around-the-office jokes that grew into the public X social media account @GooseData we know and love today.

The name is a play on “good data,” but, the person behind the memes said quite simply, “I kinda like geese … and look, they’re a nice looking bird.”

Below is a lightly edited version of our conversation.

Annalee Armstrong: It kind of sounds like these are the jokes and commentary that might be said behind closed doors at some of these companies that we cover every day.

Goose Data: I never share stuff that is actually confidential information. That's something I just won't do. Because I don't think that's ethically correct. But anything that’s publicly announced, either like clinical stuff or just general dialogue that happens in the industry about challenges that certain modalities face. It's fun to make a meme about it. You rib on it, dunk on these ideas. I think it's a lighthearted, fun way of wasting some time making people laugh.

AA: You definitely make us laugh. I particularly like your Simpsons ones that you've put out this month. I always love a Simpsons meme.

GD: I'm a huge fan of old classic Simpsons, like the first couple of seasons, and I think they work so well for making memes. One thing that's nice is that it's a growing field so there's always material for me. One of the things I do daily, I check Fierce Biotech. I check Fierce Pharma, I check Endpoints, I check Stat for all the news just to get meme material.

AA: Biotech is a pretty snarky industry. We have some good executives that poke elbows at their competitors. Journalists are also pretty outspoken, and investors can be pretty harsh on Twitter. So is it fun to be involved in that kind of dynamic space online?

GD: I do find it enjoyable, like jabbing back at a VC who is very outspoken or an executive from a company. Often they don't get back to me—occasionally they do.

Months back, I think I made a jab at Ginkgo and the CEO actually responded to my meme, and I thought that was absolutely hilarious that he would do that. He had a lighthearted reply back to my meme and I think that’s the best dialogue. I don't actually gain anything from these memes besides putting a smile on my face and hopefully a smile on other people's faces.

Goose Data TIGIT meme
A recent Goose Data meme, referring to Novartis' decision to drop TIGIT drugs from the pipeline  (Goose Data)

AA: We deal with a lot of hyperbole in this industry. Everything is "a breakthrough." Everything is "life-changing." And you seem to make particular light of that. Do you think the industry kind of needs a reality check about how they publicly communicate some of these things?

GD: Yeah. I kind of wish executives and leadership of companies would be a little bit more realistic in how they talk about their drugs, platforms and data. We're not all working on the next drug that will cure cancer, right? We're all making incremental steps. And I kind of like the honesty when people understand what we're actually doing and not trying to hype it up.

You can raise more money by telling an exciting story. But when the exciting story fails in phase 2, phase 3, and then people kind of move on—it was overhyped and maybe that's the reason why it got as far as it did and it really shouldn't have. I don't like it when I see drugs I think are bad and harmful to patients get pushed along too far.

AA: Do you think that the biotech industry is transparent enough?

GD: I don't think it's transparent enough. I have a more radical opinion on how much information should be publicly disclosed. I wish at least as drugs get into the clinic, more of their preclinical work has to be publicly disclosed in some form or fashion. A lot can be hidden in terms of possible liabilities that can impact investors, patients and general trust in the industry.

Goose Data meme
A Goose Data classic on the challenges of advancing therapies to the clinic (Goose Data)

I know there’s a handful of biotech companies that are very devious, that do look more on the predatory side. Obviously most of the industry is not. They’re genuinely good-hearted. They try their best. I've not met anyone who is trying to make a drug that doesn't work, or doesn't help people, even though in this field, most things fail. Everyone is giving it their best shot and trying to actually make a difference.

AA: What's the response been to your memes?

GD: Generally positive. I get a lot more positive feedback from my memes than negative. There's a few companies that, if I do make jabs at, people get very upset at me. But these are the zombie, lowest tier biotech companies, which I think are kind of scammy.

Editor’s note: We’re not going to name names here. You can check out Goose’s feed for your own research.

I'm not trying to be an analyst here. I'm not trying to be an expert predicting markets or predicting what stocks you should buy, what companies you should short. I'm not doing real investment advice. I'm not giving grade A biotech analysis. I'm adding some humor to the field in a way I know how and in a way I hope other people enjoy.