An Encyclopedia Of Advice For Startup Boards


This post is by Bruce from LifeSciVC


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Startups management teams often have a love-hate relationship with their Board of Directors: while Boards can be hugely helpful and constructive in the best of times, they can be dysfunctional and damaging in the worst. And most CEOs enjoy complaining about their Boards, even if just for entertaining effect on conference panels and the like.

But it is critically important for every CEO (and lead investor) to work together to best optimize the way a startup Board interacts with a management team. As a venture creation firm, we spend a lot of time engaging with our CEOs around board governance and strategy.

In 2012, under a post titled “High-Performing Boards in Early Stage Biotech”, I outlined nine themes of good Board management: insist on a prepared board, set the context, right-size your board, get independents onboard, include the senior management team, ensure quality Exec sessions, communicate frequently off-cycle,

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All A-Board


This post is by Samantha Truex from LifeSciVC


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This blog is written by Samantha Truex, Atlas EIR and CEO of a stealth-stage biotech, as part of the From The Trenches feature of LifeSciVC.

In a 2014 analysis  of biotech boards and a reprise analysis in 2016, Bruce Booth worked with life science recruiter Catalyst Advisors on this board talent blog. They estimated the demand for talent at >600 biotech Board Director spots needing to be filled in the few years following October 2016.

A critical question posed by Bruce and Catalyst Advisors was, from where will the talent come?   This issue is not unique to biotech.  According to Spencer Stuart’s 2018 board report on S&P 500 boards,  428 new directors were appointed to S&P 500 boards during the 2018 proxy year, the most since 2004.  So the search for talent to fill board seats is vast.

In the original post, Bruce stated, “When I’ve brought this

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Farewell to Zafgen: A Personal Reflection On Board Evolution


This post is by Bruce from LifeSciVC


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Today, Zafgen announced my resignation from their Board of Directors after 12 years of service.

It’s a bittersweet moment for me: having been there since the beginning, I’ve watched, and supported, the Zafgen story through all the ups and downs that a dozen years can bring. My partners and I at Atlas Venture remain significant investors and supporters of Zafgen and its mission; my departure has nothing to do with a lack of enthusiasm, and my partner Peter Barrett remains Zafgen’s chairman.

But it’s time for me to sign off to focus on other startups in our portfolio and the “day job” of investing in new ideas; in fact, this board resignation is actually the first time I’ve left a Board of a portfolio company that wasn’t an “exit” event for Atlas. Importantly, Boards, like the companies they represent, have to evolve over time.

Before sharing a few thoughts on

Continue reading “Farewell to Zafgen: A Personal Reflection On Board Evolution”

Farewell to Zafgen: A Personal Reflection On Board Evolution


This post is by Bruce from LifeSciVC


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Today, Zafgen announced my resignation from their Board of Directors after 12 years of service.

It’s a bittersweet moment for me: having been there since the beginning, I’ve watched, and supported, the Zafgen story through all the ups and downs that a dozen years can bring. My partners and I at Atlas Venture remain significant investors and supporters of Zafgen and its mission; my departure has nothing to do with a lack of enthusiasm, and my partner Peter Barrett remains Zafgen’s chairman.

But it’s time for me to sign off to focus on other startups in our portfolio and the “day job” of investing in new ideas; in fact, this board resignation is actually the first time I’ve left a Board of a portfolio company that wasn’t an “exit” event for Atlas. Importantly, Boards, like the companies they represent, have to evolve over time.

Before sharing a few thoughts on

Continue reading “Farewell to Zafgen: A Personal Reflection On Board Evolution”

Biotech CEO Pay: Inflation Held At Bay


This post is by Bruce from LifeSciVC


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




The private biotech sector is awash in capital today: funding over the last few quarters has been record-breaking, up over 250% since 2013, as biotech CEOs have worked hard to strengthen their companies’ balance sheets.  But in the process of filling up their corporate coffers, have they also filled up their own wallets?

To examine this question, I worked with Jody K. Thelander and her team at J. Thelander Consulting, a compensation data and consulting firm, and explored their recently completed 2018 Private Company Compensation survey dataset.  Several interesting findings worth noting.

First, as you might expect during the journey of a startup, the total cash compensation (base salary plus target bonus) for biotech CEOs goes up in a remarkably linear fashion as companies raise more capital – up until they approach public company CEO compensation. Here’s the latest 2018 data:

Second, over the past 6-8 years,

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Onboarding New Talent: Post-IPO Turnover Of Biotech Boards


This post is by Bruce from LifeSciVC


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A biotech’s Board often plays important roles in shaping the company’s success or failure: contributing strategic guidance, providing proper governance, stewarding fiduciary responsibilities, raising a startups’ profile, aiding business development, to name a few.

Over the life of a biotech, the role and contributions of the Board of Directors, and in particular the independent Board members, change. As drug discovery startups, often having research expertise from veterans that have served tours of duty in R&D can be helpful. Moving towards and into development, translational and clinical experience can be important value-add. Entering the public markets requires more financial expertise. And all companies can benefit from good perspectives on operations and strategy. Having great independent directors across the biotech lifecycle is one of the keys to highly functioning biotech boards (see post here).

Importantly, a big period of evolution for biotech boards occurs after they’ve gone public.  As emerging

board-directors_oct-2016
age-and-gender_current-biotech-boards_sept2016

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