Posted on July 1st, 2014
by Jeff Stein, Ph.D.
We’ve all dreamed about it: cashing out an equity position with sufficient capital to go sit on a beach, travel or run a non-profit, all without the headaches of the workplace or need to generate that regular paycheck. Who could pass up such an opportunity? After all isn’t that the central objective for most entrepreneurs?
Well I’ve got news for you. It’s not about the money, it’s about the network. Very few successful entrepreneurs who cash out elect to take the retirement route. That’s why there is a whole group of people called “serial entrepreneurs.” While a successful exit is financially and personally rewarding, it also represents an abrupt departure from an intimate network of colleagues – the team that you helped to build and that was responsible for the company’s success. As the CEO you sit at the center of that network, like a spider at the center of a web, signal lines radiating out in every direction. Sudden extraction from that web can cause sensory depravation and loss of personal sustenance. You find yourself missing the excitement, challenge, and camaraderie of working with a team on hard but meaningful problems.
After Trius’ acquisition by Cubist last September I received lots of sound advice, most centering on the “take time off before committing to something new” variety. Working to counter that advice was the deluge of opportunities, mostly CEO positions in clinical stage biotech companies. Many of these had underperforming management teams in need of new direction. Heeding the original advice, I politely declined these opportunities and took time off, reconnected with family and traveled.
So what am I doing here at the helm of Cidara, a preclinical stage biotech, only nine months after the sale of Trius? The answer is taking advantage of the proverbial offer you can’t refuse. I have the rare privilege to have been invited to join a start up by an incredibly passionate and talented team of founders who have invented a transformative technology that has the potential to save the lives of patients suffering from devastating fungal infections, many of whom have a fifty percent or greater chance of dying on current standard of care.
Importantly, joining me in this new adventure are some key individuals who contributed to the success of Trius as well as others from my broader past networks. What these individuals have in common is the fact that none of them needed the job. They have all either had recent successes that enabled them to retire comfortably or were gainfully employed elsewhere. As in the western “The Magnificent Seven,” these individuals dropped what they were doing to form a new unit embarking on an important cause. We all joined Cidara for the opportunity to work together on an exciting vision for the future. I look forward to providing updates on our progress.