Profit vs Purpose: The Duel Begins

Jun 25 2018

By Russell Pearlman, originally published in issue 35 of Briefings Magazine, and posted on KornFerry.com on May 15, 2018. 

Kurt Graves had just heard from multiple investors in Intarcia Therapeutics, the pharmaceutical firm he runs, asking him a single question: Why wasn’t he putting Intarcia up for sale?

Intarcia is one of those “unicorns,” a firm with a multi-billion-dollar valuation. Its big product is a pushpin-sized pump that, when placed under a patient’s skin, will deliver medicine without trouble for a year. It’s a potential life changer for diabetes patients, many of whom have trouble keeping up with all the injections and pills to keep their disease at bay.

But the treatment, while succeeding in many clinical trials, was still facing months of regulatory review. Selling now, or taking the company public, the investors argued, would let the owners earn some quick short-term profits.

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