Kathleen Sereda Glaub
In the biotech business and at her home garden, Kathy Glaub likes to plant seeds and watch them grow. Of course, the seeds of biotech involve investments in R&D and carefully crafted financing strategies. In those regards, there's been a bumper crop this year at the drug discovery firm Plexxikon, and Glaub has been able to savor the fruits of her 10 years spent helping to shape the business strategy and firming up lucrative partnership deals.
Berkeley, CA-based Plexxikon has been a breakout success this year, during which the startup was sold to Japan's Daiichi Sankyo in a nearly $1 billion deal closed in April and its lead drug Zelboraf gained an FDA green light for treating melanoma. Glaub has been heavily involved in the action; she hammered out the details of the buyout pact with Daiichi, which has kept Plexxikon intact as an independently operating discovery and development shop. She also helped field a sales team this year for marketing Zelboraf, which is partnered with Swiss drug giant Roche.
Success like this is a rare thing in biotech, where even companies that raise gobs of cash and boast hot science often tank. So it's worth taking note of some of the moves Glaub and her colleagues made at Plexxikon. For one, the group brought more than $200 million in non-dilutive funding through a series of pharma collaborations, dwarfing the nearly $67 million in equity the firm sold to raise capital for its programs. The company has also kept a relatively lean team on its full-time roster, and the company's prudent fiscal management allowed it to operate in the black--and, yes, paying taxes--for several years before the approval of Zelboraf, Glaub said.
To come out on top at Plexxikon, Glaub has more than two decades in the biotech field, getting her start in the industry with Genentech during the mid-1980s. She rose to treasurer of the famous biotech (now a unit of Roche, of course) in 1988, managing the company's cash during a time when capital was scarce compared with reserves in later years. She then jumped aboard Cell Genesys, where she was financial chief from 1993 to 1998. (Cell Genesys, a therapeutic vaccine developer, was sold on the cheap in 2009 to BioSante after running into financial trouble.) Glaub's track record at Plexxikon speaks volumes for the wisdom she's gained and applied during her years in biotech.
"Wherever I have gone, I have placed my bets on the people I would be working with," Glaub said. "Secondly, I always ask how could we do something better, and why not? I have never been one to follow and rather enjoy bucking the trend or the models that people talk about. In part, that is how we were successful at Plexxikon."
Kathleen Sereda Glaub