- Wealthy humanitarians investing in challenging industries.
- Supercomputers team with pharmaceuticals to speed up diagnosis and access to treatment.
- Biotech company possibly going public in 2015.
One of my favorite technologists of all times is Elon Musk. His bio is impressive to say the least. He was one of the co-founders of PayPal. He then leveraged its buyout from Ebay for $1.5 billion and started Tesla Motors and SpaceX. These came to be the first highly successful electric car and private spacecraft and rocket companies.
In my book, Elon Musk’s tenacious goal of using technology to improve humanity marks him as a very intriguing person. His mindset is simply admirable.
Back in 2002, everyone thought he was crazy when he dumped his entire net worth into creating an electric car company and a rocket ship company. All other previous attempts by private commercial entities had failed in these fields; but Elon had something to prove…
On a 60 Minutes interview from this past March, Scott Pelley asked him: “How did you figure you were going to start a car company and be successful at it?”
Elon’s response: “Well, I didn’t really think Tesla would be successful. I thought we would most likely fail. But I thought that we at least could address the false perception that people have that an electric car had to be ugly and slow and boring like a golf cart.”
Pelley: “But you say you didn’t expect the company to be successful? Then why try?”
Musk: “If something’s important enough you should try… even if the probable outcome is failure.”
Since I had recorded the episode, I found myself replaying that last piece over and over again.
I tried to put everything into perspective and ask myself if I knew of any other people who would take their billion dollar fortune and fully invest it in two highly complex industries, where the failures far outweighed any success stories, if only to prove a point to humanity.
For months, I thought Musk was the only true technologist humanitarian, until I recently stumbled across Patrick Soon-Shiong, another billionaire, who is doing for the biotech sector what Elon Musk did for electric cars and commercial rockets.
Like Musk, Patrick Soon-Shiong was born in South Africa. He is a surgeon, medical researcher and a businessman. He is ranked by Forbes as the wealthiest American in the health-care industry with a net worth of $13.3 billion.
Patrick obtained much of his wealth by developing cancer-fighting drugs and blood thinners, with the top products being Abraxane and Heparin. He sold the companies he founded producing each drug for $4.6 billion (Heparin) and $4.5 billion (Abraxane) in 2008 and 2010, respectively.
Not wanting to rest on his laurels, Patrick felt he still had something to prove, so in 2011 he started a company called NantWorks.
Computers Fighting Cancer
NantWorks is the true culmination of Patrick’s life work in the cancer-fighting field.
The company leverages advanced semi-conductor technology, supercomputing, advanced networks and augmented intelligence to diagnose and begin treatment for cancer patients over a span of hours, not months.
In 2005, Patrick formed NantWorks after realizing that during the approval process for Abraxane, doctors were making bad decisions in diagnosing cancer patients, which ultimately affected treatment options. The main issue was that the doctors weren’t able to keep up with the speed at which each patient’s cancer changed and mutated.
Patrick then bought up various technology companies in order to address each portion of the diagnosis and treatment cycle for cancer patients and roll them under one umbrella company, NantWorks.
The central idea is that as soon as a cancer patient arrives at the hospital for diagnosis, everything from their DNA to the proteins in their blood will be instantly analyzed via a proprietary and incredibly fast computing device. The data is collected in real time — no pens, papers or clipboards.
Within minutes, computers recommend which drugs to try based upon augmented intelligence from medical journals and other medical data. Once the patient is sent home, the same technology travels with them, allowing doctors to continue to monitor them in real time, as hospital administrators evaluate the efficacy and costs of various procedures and medicines and compare notes with hospitals across the country.
Tracking the Technology
This quote is like a motto for me: “Technology doesn’t solve problems, people solve problems. Technology automates solutions.”
It’s up to us to analyze a problem, create the solution and then execute it using the best technology available. So, by taking the work of thousands of cancer-fighting doctors and building a system that allows them to collaborate, diagnose and treat patients with supercomputers, Patrick Soon-Shiong is truly super-charging the fight against cancer.
If Elon Musk were in biotech, he would be Patrick Soon-Shiong.
Although no release date has yet been given, Patrick states that one of his companies under the NantHealth umbrella is currently slated for an initial public offering in 2015.
I’m currently tracking the social media chatter for this IPO and other related companies that are ripe for acquisition by NantWorks and will keep you updated as I see opportunities develop in my trading service Biotech Intel Trader.
Stay tuned as I continue to monitor social media opportunities across the markets!
For more information on the companies I’ve been monitoring in the biotech industry, take a few moments to read more on my trading service, Biotech Intel Trader here.