Random Ramblings about stuff I see going on in biotech, internet and the stuff I read.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

New Technology? - failing in scouting...

I have spent very large chunks of the last two weeks at two meetings here in San Diego. FASEB and AACR. My goal was the same as always... find new stuff and talk to people. I should say I haven't been to conferences in awhile, as I got caught up in a bunch of M+A stuff and this part of my job got deprecated. Went to these two just to see new stuff. Don't want to miss the "new".


Total disappointment.

Nothing new.

In fact. Really nothing new. I did not, in all of the posters I looked at (and I think I looked at, quickly mind you, every poster at AACR and FASEB). I am good at looking at posters quickly and recognizing what techniques were used. Read every title to see what questions were asked. Scan figure legends if it doesn't immediately register as to what they are doing...


I talked to some of the people I work with saying "i got nothing, have been out of the loop for a year - am i totally missing?" and the general response was "no- thats the way it is right now". It seems, and this is the really big view, that new techniques aren't really being pushed right now. There is a lot of incremental improvement, ways to make things faster, etc... but I am not seeing discontinuous innovation. I know it is out there, I just can't find it and it annoys me. OR its not there at all right now. Everyone is catching up with the technology they have. They can answer a ton of questions that was unlocked by the last round of things and are still really figuring out how to use that technology- SO - they don't need new.

My bet is on the "just figuring out the old" for right now (and note - my definition of old in this context is like 4 years ago). There is a lot of making instruments cheaper going on, which drives the measurements possible in to more and more labs (good thing, but doesn't help with my "new" problem).

Overall, a bit of a disappointment.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

..some more travel

I was surveyed by United Airlines recently. They were happy with my travel for this year. Last year I flew 35K miles on them and I am just over 70k already this year. They were thanking me and asking what they can do etc... I told them. I think I surprised the woman as she kept coming back to "you are one of our most loyal customers" etc... I tried to explain, but don't think she ever got it, that I fly you because I have to not because I want to. My company gets good rates from you and you go where I need. As you can see from my recent post, I fly Virgin America whenever I can.

My two favorite airlines are Virgin America and Jet Blue. Unfortunatly they don't go international and they don't go, directly, where I need them to. I would rather be a bit uncomfortable (although now I am in upgrade a lot territory) than take an extra hop.

The loyalty program itself didn't do much for me until recently they added the ability to buy things. Now, using miles, I got a new GPS for the car for my wife and am getting a Wii. This is, I think, the best use of airmiles yet, as the last thing I really want to do is get on a plane for vacation.

Tough economic times

The recent headlines all over the papers are about how the economy is crashing, dogs and cats living together, and how we are all doomed.

Many corporations are looking at this and taking big steps to deal. Affy decided to move it's manufacturing to Singapore (although, it just guided down for the year and got it's stock smacked by 35% today). You see, in far less obvious ways, most of the other companies doing this as well.

Against that backdrop, I don't see the weakness in the pharma and biotech companies. They are still buying and still looking for stuff. In the smaller companies, I still see them out there and trying to get stuff together. They are still asking for a bazillion dollars to be acquired.

Just a weird disconnect that I am seeing. Not sure whether the sky is really falling or whether it just hasn't yet fallen on the companies I am looking at. At some point, hopefully they are aligned.

learning outside of your box

Today over at Derek's blog, he is writing about learning outside of your field. He talks about chemists learning biology etc... I had talked here awhile ago about "learning others languages" in a post that I can't find. My basic idea was that lawyers have their own vocabulary. Chemists have theirs, and biologists have theirs. Learning the "new" vocabulary lets you talk to those people more quickly. In order to learn their vocabulary, you have to learn what they do. It is totally invaluable. It leads to promotions. It leads everywhere upwards. I just recently got given more stuff. The reason I was given the group was because we need them to operate across some silo's we have. I speak both languages...so am one of the few who can break that wall down.

There are some people who just won't or can't do this. They have their little area of expertise and won't expand out. You need those folks, as frequently they are really good at what they do. However, they won't be moving up the chain.

The further up you get, the more different groups report in to you. The more "languages" you speak, the better/quicker you will understand what they are talking about (and when they are full of it). In addition, you more rapidly can solve the problems if you understand what is normal for an area, what they expect, how they think, and what they are trying to do.

SO... for those thinking it is just good for your science... it is also really good for your career.