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Invitrogen s Sean George on the Company s Strategy for Integration

In 2003, Sean George, director of business segments for cell biology, made the cover of Invitrogen’s annual report after moving into his position from Molecular Probes, which Invitrogen acquired that August. Today, George has a new position as vice president of diagnostic tools and solutions for Invitrogen and will be responsible for guiding the integration of the firm’s technology with that of Dynal, which Invitrogen this week said it plans to acquire for $386 million in a transaction that is expected to close in April (see article, page 1).

BioCommerce Week spoke to George about the integration of the two companies’ technologies and Invitrogen’s entry into the diagnostics arena.

What will your responsibilities be in this transaction?

My job will be to take our current technology and product offerings and better service our diagnostic partners, and look at product development.

Given your new position and responsibilities in this, could one see that as a sign that diagnostics is the driver of this deal?

There are two major drivers. One, as we have publicly stated before, we are always looking for premier technology companies and brands that incorporate well into our company. This company fits well into that description. We felt with our breadth of technology, we felt we could help Roche and Bayer and others by providing enabling tools and product solutions. Those two reasons are equal.

Will you also be involved in the integration?

Because of the magnitude of the business, I will be intimately involved in the integration.

How big is the team that will be working on this?

We will have 15 people, between Dynal and Invitrogen, working full time on the integration. Much of the business management team here spends a lot of time between the sites. I will be making the trip to Norway. In addition, we have people in our European organization helping out full time. We look forward to the new injection of cultures in these acquisitions.

Will there be any lay offs?

If you look to the history of Invitrogen, it’s more of an investment story more than anything else. We are looking to invest in Dynal and accelerate its organic growth rate, and incorporate its technology. There are no plans for headcount-- only plans for investment and return on investment. We are seeking top-line revenue and product and technology synergies.

You came to Invitrogen after the acquisition of Molecular Probes. What were the lessons learned in that integration process?

We really look at delivering what we lay out as our expectation for our investors and customers. Over time, we are developing a core expertise in acquiring and developing technology companies. In this business, your people are your most valuable asset, and speed is of the essence. We leverage the capacity by hitting the top line and exceeding expectations and by creating new products and new solutions for customers. Invitrogen has really sound business operations and operational excellence.

CEO Greg Lucier spoke of a three-year product roadmap in the conference call following the announcement of the intent to acquire Dynal. When is that due?

At some point next year. As part of our annual cycle, we create a multi-generational road map, executed on an annual basis with a lookout to a three-year view of the products that we will develop.

In the dynamic of almost an acquisition every month, how can you plan that far in advance?

The roadmap drives a lot of our acquisition strategy. We look out for our product franchises, for technologies that could benefit, and that informs our acquisition strategy. It is a dynamic process that is changing all the time [and sets] down a roadmap that the entire company can look to . It becomes particularly important for a company like ours that does a lot of acquisitions to have this roadmap down.

So, what does Invitrogen look like three years out?

At the end of three years, we are very excited about what we can do for our customers and the marketplace. There is a lot more room to develop our capabilities. Some of the tools that our customers are using are a bit long in the tooth and we expect to change that over the next three years.

In the three-year view, we are looking toward the convergence of many applications from our broad portfolio of technology.

We expect a massive convergence on systems biology, or global physiology, whatever you want to call it. Nobody here expects these disciplines to be unique standalones.

Invitrogen has a broad offering of reagents, informatics, and services. But missing from the portfolio is instruments.

The instrument side is clearly a part of the game, and we are evaluating every platform as we go along. With everything converging, the game is the platform, the instrument, reagents, and the software package behind it.

How does this change Invitrogen?

Some people ask if we are becoming a therapeutics company or a diagnostic company. That is not what we are not looking at today. We want to be the premier tool provider for researchers.

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