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April 6, 2011
Westphal Leaves GSK
Hmmm. I see that Christopher Westphal is leaving GlaxoSmithKline, specifically departing his job at the company's venture-capital arm, SR One. He'd been in that position just about a year. InVivoBlog has a good roundup of what this means, and there are several layers to it.
For one thing, Westphal came in as part of the Sirtris deal, which has been the subject of all sorts of comment here and in many other places. We'll say for now that the deal was (a) not cheap and (b) is still in the "wait and see" stage as far as paying off, or even being a good idea in the first place. And he was involved in that bizarre buy-some-resveratrol business last year, at least until GSK brought down the hammer. So there's a lot of interesting history from that angle.
Then, when you look at it from the perspective of GSK's attempts to fund small companies, there are other things to think about. Running their venture arm seems to have been a real hot seat, as that InVivoBlog post demonstrates. Not much seems to have come out of all the time, money, and effort so far - you'd have to think that if you'd mapped out the coming accomplishments of SR One when it was founded, that the company wouldn't have been happy to see that future.
Westphal may well be leaving mainly to concentrate on his own venture fund. Or some other execs at GSK may be glad to see him go. Or GSK in general may be wondering what to do about SR One. . .or all three of these at once.
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