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At Apple, Yuen Will Get a Break From the Startup Lifestyle

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Warner Yuen wouldn’t get very far with a superstitious hiring manager — his resume makes him look like the kiss of death. Consider, in reverse chronological order, the job history of the 37-year-old California native: director of business development, Entigen (company shut down in November 2001); western regional sales manager, Genomica (company sold to Exelixis for cash in November 2001); senior sales rep, NetGenics (company sold to Lion in January 2002); sequence analysis product marketer at Hitachi (division was spun out into MiraiBio); western regional sales manager, IntelliGenetics (company acquired by Oxford Molecular, now part of Accelrys); DNA sequencing technician, Calgene (company acquired by Monsanto).

Lucky for Yuen, someone in Apple’s scientific and technical marketing department wasn’t scared off by that track record. After three months of unemployment, whiling away his days mountain biking with old Entigen colleagues, taking long walks around Mountain View with his dog, and fixing up the house while his “literally very supportive” wife of seven years brought home the bacon, Yuen got an offer from Apple in March. He cringed when the HR department asked for reference phone numbers at his former places of employment. “I had to tell them that none of them exist anymore,” says the longtime Apple fan who rushed out and got himself a $2,000 Apple Titanium Powerbook when he realized Entigen was doomed. But “the reason they want to hire me is because of all the bioinformatics experiences,” he says.

Asked if his work history has taught him how not to run a bioinformatics business, Yuen says, to the contrary, he had “great experiences at each company.” Thanks to his vested Genomica shares, he is now a “thousandaire,” and of NetGenics he says, “I don’t know if I’ve said enough good things about NetGenics. I learned a lot about startups. They had some great ideas and were trying to build something really spectacular … it’s just that when I was there the technology wasn’t mature enough yet.”

As to what went wrong at Entigen, Yuen says, “I don’t think anything went wrong. We had a good product and one of our beta testers ended up giving us a fairly large purchase order. We were building a product that we thought had a future. I look at it as we ran out of runway.”

At GT press time, Yuen was readying to sign an employment contract to market Apple’s scientific applications for higher education. “My work experience and domain knowledge provide a good fit for what Apple is trying to do in higher education,” he says. Presumably that doesn’t include putting schools out of business.

— Adrienne Burke

 

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