JPM19: Takeaways from pharma’s “must-attend” event

We left San Francisco after a highly successful and transformative week for HealthVerity and yet didn’t attend one session.

Interesting few days out at #JPM19 last week. Plenty of commentary already, including reading the astute set of observations on the current state of play by Bruce Booth @LifeSciVC — all of his thoughts are spot on:

“At its best, the JPM week in San Fran is a hyper-networking event: connecting executives, entrepreneurs, and investors with the rest of the investment community; connecting service providers with current and prospective clients; and reconnecting old friends and acquaintances. But this year several more negative themes, all in place for years, reached a tipping point for me. This year the word “excessive” became synonymous with JPM week.”

I think even the public companies are tiring of the excessive cost and effort. And we noted how everything seemed a lot less crowded this year, so maybe some tipping point has been reached.

We at HealthVerity had a number of great meetings, but given the speed dating aspect, it’s hard to feel like much practical work gets accomplished. Having said that, it does seem like senior executives use the time at JPM to try and find reasons to work together, so the overall tone of meetings tends to be pretty positive. We definitely came out of it with some great next steps with some of our clients and partners.

So, while I concur with the criticisms, I’m not really sure what the other options are for some of us — it’s not too often you can spend time with senior executives from several of your clients all in one place. One other thing I’ve observed over the past year or two is that the old model of big companies not working with startups on key on key initiatives seems to have gone by the wayside; most seem hungry for innovation and willing to go with the best solution, regardless of company size — that’s a really good thing for the ecosystem in general. 

We’ll probably stick it out another year or so, regardless of cost.