BioTime is a complicated company with considerable potential hampered by a too vast platform.
After almost three decades, the company is finally nearing the market with its first product.
Although there is much to be concerned about, BTX offers an interesting speculative opportunity.
In a series of articles, we will take a detailed look at the company.
Introduction: of platforms and products
There are two things in biomedicine – a platform and its product. Generally, it is not a good idea to develop the platform first and then look for a product produced from that platform. This is because you cannot commercialize a platform – meaning you usually cannot directly make money from a platform except in exceptional cases where you can license it. So it is not a good idea to own a platform first – you waste investor money trying to get a grip on it.
A better way is to create a product and then build a platform around it. That way, you have made your financiers happy because the product is clearing their exit strategy, while you build a future for the company through the platform. This is a good way to do corporate biotech.
The best way to do corporate biotech would, however, be where you develop a product and its platform simultaneously. So, as your product gets near the market, your investors know they can depend on your platform to keep producing products for years to come.
Given this 3-phase spectrum, I must say that BioTime (BTX) does corporate biotech in the worst way possible. The company – and its visionary CEO MIchael West, PhD – first developed a platform that was so vast, so promising but so complicated, that for almost 2 decades the company – and its various, various subsidiaries – never did manage to throw away the lab coat and put on a more corporate outfit. The story is even more complicated by the involvement of Geron (GERN), another also very complicated company once also founded by Dr West, which had IP in both stem cell and telomerase, development in the former of which it abandoned in 2011, and finally in 2013, sold it off to a subsidiary of BioTime, which was founded by Dr West after he was literally ousted from Geron, his own creation…etc, etc and etc. Read the story here.