Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Pfi-Wy Let The Good Times Roll--Without Corey Goodman

It's been 20 days since Pfizer and Wyeth announced their much heralded reorganization, putting 8 Wyeth execs in senior management positions at the newly bulked up company.

At the time, we noted that the appointments--especially of Mikael Dolsten to head large molecule R&D and Emilio Emini as chief vaccine guru--sent a clear message to employees that having an existing Pfizer business card would not necessarily translate into an advantage at the larger pharma.

And now we begin to see the fall out from the reorg. In SEC filings released late Monday afternoon, Pfizer revealed that Corey Goodman, hired in October 2007 as senior vice president of the pharma's BioTherapeutics and BioInnovation Center, had tendered his resignation over the weekend. Goodman's last official day with Pfizer will be May 31.

But he won't have much of a hands on role in the interim. Prior to his resignation, "Dr. Goodman will be on a paid leave of absence from Pfizer, with all of his current compensation and benefits arrangements remaining in full force and effect until his Resignation Date," according to the separation and settlement agreement filed with the SEC.

Perhaps the news isn't all that surprising. When Pfizer announced the new operating structure April 7, the five page news release trumpeting the company's vision referred to the BBC only once--the group would report to Dolsten who's official title is head of the BioTherapeutics Research Group--and made absolutely no mention of Corey Goodman's role in the larger organization.

In an interview with "The Pink Sheet" DAILY and later in a podcast with the IN VIVO Blog (you can listen here), Dolsten confirmed "there is a strong commitment to the BBC" with this latest reorganization. "They are now part of a bigger family with additional expertise in protein, peptide, and vaccine technologies. We want to promote and strengthen a great concept-the BBC unit," he said.

But Dolsten declined to discuss Goodman's evolving role in the interview, noting that the April 7 announcement focused "only on the executive leadership team and the operating model." However, Dolsten did emphasize Goodman will continue to be a critical player at Pfizer and was one of the principal architects of this new structure.

Susan Anderson, in Pfizer's public reations group, confirmed Goodman's involvement. In an email dated April 7, she noted:

"The BBC will continue as it is--a federation of the distinct research units--and will have an even greater opportunity to advance its scientific programs by working in combination with PGRD and WYE scientists within the BioPharmaceuticals Research Group under Mikael Dolsten. Corey is fully supportive of this new organizational model, which he worked with Pfizer and Wyeth leaders to create."

But not so supportive that he's willing to stay on post-Wyeth integration and report to Dolsten. Up until the acquisition of Wyeth, Goodman had a plum job with a high degree of visibility. Hired in 2007 with an annual salary of $725K, Goodman had a direct line into CEO Jeff Kindler's office and a mandate to move Pfizer in a biotech-like direction reminiscent of GSK's Centres for Excellence in Drug Development experiment (the CEDDs). Goodman was important. The BBC was important; the loose federation of biotechs was going to be the spring-board for Pfizer's great leap into biologics and prove that there was a better way for big drugmakers to do R&D.

But that mandate undoubtedly shrank with Pfizer's $68 billion take-out of Wyeth and the creation of bifurcated R&D structure headed up by Dolsten and Martin Mackay (currently head of PGRD). With Dolsten running the show, Goodman, who co-founded the biotechs Exelixis and Renovis and ran successful labs at Stanford University and UC Berkeley, mightn't have relished taking a back seat at a suddenly much bigger organization. We tried to reach Goodman for a quick comment but he was unavailable.

And let's be honest, Goodman probably didn't have much incentive to stay on. Financial security wasn't likely to be much of an issue. Goodman could have cashed out after the IPOs of either Exelixis or Renovis--or Evotec's 2007 $160 million purchase of Renovis, for that matter--and gone sailing. And his compensation package at Pfizer was nothing to sneer at. In addition to his salary, Goodman received a $3.4 million signing bonus, half of which was contingent on two years of service with the pharma.

Even though Goodman's been with the pharmaceutical company just 18 months, he'll keep that second $1.7 million in lieu of a severance package. (We should all be so lucky.)

Goodman's departure shows the peril of the stand-alone biotech within pharma and how hard it can be to retain innovators even as drug makers feel the need to grow bigger to navigate the complexity that is drug development. (Indeed, Art Levinson and Susan Desmond-Hellman are already on their way out just a few blocks away at DNA's campus.)

We aren't sure if Dolsten and Mackay will succeed with their "empowered CSO model"--or if the BBC will continue to thrive in the absence of Goodman. We do know Goodman is likely to be a hot commodity--VCs on Sand Hill Road are almost certain to be calling him--if they haven't done so already.

image by flickr user saraab used under a creative commons license

1 comment:

dynamo112666 said...

Your kidding me!! Corey Goodman a hot commodity? Maybe amongst those that are debutants to the ball and have no content knowledge. Corey is a sales man pure and simple. Only Craig Ventnor has parted more money with 0 return for from long term investors. Lots of start-ups but no deliverd objectives. Wherever he goes is a long term short (albeit with lots of volatily).