Scott Huennekens - Verb Surgical

Conjugating surgery innovations

Name: Scott Huennekens
Title: President and CEO of Verb Surgical

Scott Huennekens is a relatively known quantity in the medical device world--but he now heads up one of the most mysterious entities within it. Google made serious incursions into med tech in 2014. To do so, it's lined up a series of heavyweight partners and high-profile employees, thereby gaining further credibility and direction for its efforts; just as those working with it gleaned something the device sector has been lacking in for a long time, inspiration.

Huennekens was coming off a big win--the February 2015 sale of catheter-based imaging and treatment company Volcano to Royal Philips ($PHG) for $1.2 billion. Under his watch from 2002 through to 2015, Volcano grew from a startup through an IPO and into a relatively weighty public company. Although revenue growth was stalled just prior to the sale, making it a good time to get out.

Prior to that, Huennekens was the President and CEO of imaging company Digirad for a few years and an exec at Baxter ($BAX) in its Edwards Cardiovascular Division, before its spin out to become Edwards Life Sciences ($EW) in early 2000.

He took up his latest challenge in December, when Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) and Google Life Sciences, now Verily under parent company Alphabet ($GOOG), created joint venture Verb Surgical and appointed Huennekens as President and CEO. The JV is specifically through J&J's Ethicon surgical business. So, in addition to revolutionizing robotic surgery, Verb is tasked with creating novel medical devices to be used by surgeons.

The budget for Verb hasn't been disclosed, but its parents obviously have very deep pockets. The investment is coming from Ethicon, Johnson & Johnson, JJDC and Verily with the new effort based in Mountain View, CA.

"By maximizing the distinct capabilities of these two market-leading companies, we aim to develop novel technologies and solutions to help improve the standard of care around the world," summed up Huennekens in a statement at the time of the deal announcement. "Our name speaks for itself. We are a company dedicated to action and to making a difference in people's lives, in partnership with surgeons globally."

Huennekens remains on the boards of recently public gastrointestinal specialist EndoChoice ($GI), bioresorbable scaffold player Reva Medical ($RVA) and the Medical Device Manufacturers Association (MDMA).

-- Stacy Lawrence (email | Twitter)

More info:
J&J, Alphabet's Verily form surgical robotics and medical device JV: Verb Surgical
Former Google scientist opens up about Verb's surgical robotics innovation
EndoChoice brings on former Volcano CEO ahead of a planned IPO for up to $150M
EndoChoice files for up to $115M IPO to back its wider-view Fuse endoscopy system
Volcano guides lower but offers long-term vision, Wall Street trims by as much as 25%
FDA nod for synchronized motion table for Intuitive Surgical robotic surgical system
More clarity for Google's Verily? Don't bet on it soon
J&J hints at 'bold steps' in device deals in 2016, details 5 device collaborations

Scott Huennekens - Verb Surgical
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