Sector News

Ex-Glaxo CEO Witty joins Hatteras as venture partner

September 19, 2017
Life sciences

Sir Andrew Witty has joined Hatteras Venture Partners. The former GlaxoSmithKline CEO is taking up a venture partner position at the VC shop, setting him up to offer advice on the positioning of its portfolio companies.

Witty stepped down as GSK CEO earlier this year after a stint marked by major changes—such as the asset swap with Novartis and R&D rejig—that ultimately failed to remake the drugmaker as investors hoped. But, for Hatteras, the connections, credibility and knowledge Witty accrued on his way to the CEO position made him an attractive addition to the team.

“Andrew will help us with strategic positioning of Hatteras and its portfolio companies,” Clay Thorp, a general partner at Hatteras, said. “This includes fostering relationships with key companies and people in our industry, as well as keeping Hatteras aware and engaged on big, global industry trends that affect our portfolio companies.”

Witty joins four other venture partners, all of whom have résumés dotted with senior positions. None of the others has led a company like GSK, though.

Thorp thinks Witty’s experience will help Hatteras as it ushers science out of academic centers and into biotechs with the means to turn it into clinical-phase candidates. This approach gave rise to the now-public cancer biotech G1 Therapeutics—which Witty serves on the board of—and a clutch of other startups hoping to make a splash globally.

“Hatteras invests in a global industry,” Thorp said. “Andrew brings an international perspective that complements the team we already have in place … [and] brings credibility to Hatteras that enables us to engage at a high level with company leaders and policy makers on a global basis.”

Thorp thinks adding these assets will make Hatteras a “a stronger, more impactful investor.”

Other VC shops have reached similar conclusions. That means Witty will see some familiar faces when he looks at the people working at other VC firms. Of the Big Pharma CEOs who held their posts concurrently to Witty, Jeff Kindler and Chris Viehbacher preceded him on the path into venture capital. Ex-Pfizer CEO Kindler landed at Lux Capital in 2012. Three years later, Viehbacher signed up to head Gurnet Point Capital.

All three CEOs were following a path trodden by Bob Ingram, who co-led the merger that created GlaxoSmithKline as CEO of Glaxo/Wellcome before becoming a general partner at Hatteras. Ingram mentored Witty when their paths crossed at the Big Pharma, and the pair have now reunited at the North Carolina-based VC firm.

News of Witty’s appointment coincides with the entry of one of his former colleagues into the world of VC. Moncef Slaoui, the former head of R&D at GSK, has joined Medicxi as partner.

By Nick Paul Taylor

Source: Fierce Biotech

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