Archive for December, 2012

December 11, 2012

We have a big exit in Iceland – DeCode Genetics


Iceland: Aurora Borealis

We finally have a big exit in Iceland for a startup that started it all in the Genetics space. This is the kind of stories that will bring attention to the fact that entrepreneurship and building companies in Iceland is not such a bad idea. I hope the people who cashed on this exit re-invest the money back in Iceland in young entrepreneurs and startups. I believe this is the only way to build equity in a society. I have written about how value is created and despite all the challenges that faced DeCode they were finally able to make an impact in this space coming from tiny Iceland.

Originally posted on :

By Terry McGuire, Co-Founder and Managing General Partner, Polaris Partners

Today, biotech giant Amgen announced that it acquired deCODE Genetics for just over $400 million in cash.  deCODE is a Polaris portfolio company and genomics pioneer.  Analysts will ask why; this certainly doesn’t fit the more common pharma model of acquiring a company with a promising drug in Phase 2 or 3 trials.

The answer is simple.  There is a great need by large biotechs and pharma companies to show true and more predictable innovation.  And Amgen’s leaders know that the future of healthcare is laid on the foundation of producing truly innovative medicines and technologies.


deCODE utilizes over 140,000 Icelandic blood samples

And that’s exactly where deCODE will help Amgen.

deCODE was big data before there was something known as big data.  They and a handful of other pioneers began the big data movement in genetics.  In the…

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December 10, 2012

What kills you makes the ecosystem stronger

I have been having so much fun watching Nicholas Nassim Taleb talk about Antifragility.

Source: Wikipedia,

Did I mention that I am big fan of his work? It is just brilliant the way he has simplified complex systems. I really like his perspective on Entrepreneurs and those who risk it all and have their skin in the game. His argument which makes a lot of sense to me is that having a lot of entrepreneurs tinkering with things is what creates science and not the other way around. The problem is that those who are practitioners don’t always write their habits and rituals and why they are able to improve on their experiments so that knowledge gets lost. This is changing in the Entrepreneurial community world wide because of the explosion of the work of Brad Feld, Fred Wilson, Mark Andersen, Ben Horowitz, Eric Ries, Steve Blank and many others fallen heros who have taken the audacity to show everyone how to fail, learn from the failure and increase our odds of success as a global entrepreneurial community. The reason we listen to the above list and to Taleb is because they have fallen, lifted themselves up and succeeded, would our learning be improved if all those who fail also shared their experiences and learnings? I think it would hence the title of the blog post… I would encourage everyone to create a blog and start writing about your fears, successes and failure, you never know what titbit of information you provide can help someone else in the global community. We are able to link information together and access it from different devices and from almost anywhere in the world, if we are able to create a collective conscious of entrepreneurs and tinkerers, it would be awesome to listen to this heartbeat… just stop and think about it. This is profound stuff if only you notice it.

Taleb talks about Convexity and how that skews every assumption we have about economic models and econometrics… I am sorry Dr.Carter Hill (my econometrics professor in Louisiana State University), I think the Central Limit Theorem does not work neither does the Bell Curve. Taleb has proved many times over and the stock market is proving everyday that none of these theories and empirical work is relevant in the real world.

Coming back to the notion of why we need entrepreneurs and small is beautiful, a couple of the themes in Talebs work. Both of these things are attributes of Iceland. Watch the video above, it is 1 hour long but it sooo worth it.


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