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We’re All in the Same Boat

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OK, ominous front-cover art this month. We know. But read the article. It’s apt. Can proteomics companies stay afloat? You’ll have to give them credit for trying. We give them credit for their forthrightness. There’s something about crisis mode that lets people drop the pretense. The seven proteomics CEOs who consented when asked to spend some time on the phone telling us how they’re faring in this miserable climate were disarmingly honest. How refreshing.

Then again, their sincerity makes the struggle all the more difficult to watch. We admit, when a company like … oh, why name names? … maintains its marketing spiel, denying any trouble right up to the end while we’re reporting otherwise, we can’t help but be a little smug when they succumb. But no one around here really wants to write the news when a guy like Ian Humphery- Smith — founding chair of the department of pharmaceutical proteomics at the University of Utrecht, a founder of the Australian Proteomics Analysis Facility, and a founder of HUPO — has to dissolve his company, as he did Glaucus Proteomics in October. (Could there be a lesson in here for public relations agents?)

As a proteomics tool provider, Glaucus isn’t in the target-finding category of proteomics companies we talked to for the cover story. But the touch-and-go nature of business is the same for any startup right now: Smith said that Glaucus “died quickly” when, with the ink wet on a $19.5 million financing round, the fourth investor, an institutional bank, pulled out at closing.

GenomeWeb is no stranger to the effects of the vagaries of business in a crummy economy. And we can’t help but be honest about it. The same way one of the companies in the cover story took on new hires after its first big deal, we were inspired by our run of 90-plus-page issues this year to bring on a new editor this month to help out with all the work (please welcome John S. MacNeil, and get a taste of his flair for capturing a personality on paper on p. 42) and now — well, you can feel the weight of this issue! We’re confident that we’ll be keeping John plenty busy in 2003, but if someone were putting the faces of all the “life sciences technology” magazine publishers into little portholes on a rocking boat asking “can they survive?” we won’t deny that our CEO’s mug would belong there.

 

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