Biotechnology company focused on acquiring, developing and commercializing innovative products in hematology and oncology.
NEA Board Members:
Patrick J. Mahaffy
After spending 6 years as CEO of biopharmaceutical company NeXstar,
serial entrepreneur and former venture capitalist Patrick Mahaffy was
considering his next move. Along with partner Judy Hemberger, they
decided to leverage their long-standing relationships with big pharma
companies and biotech startups with the strong network they had
The goal was to build a global specialty pharmaceutical
company focused on acquiring, developing and commercializing innovative
products for the treatment of hematology and oncology patients.
Why We Invested
Sometimes the elements of a great business are so compelling that you
simply can’t ignore the potential. Such is the case with Pharmion.
Their executive team was in place. Their first round of financing was
complete. It was time to find the right partners for their critical
Patrick returned to NEA, one of NeXstar’s funders, and spoke
with general partner Jim Barrett. It was clear to Jim that Pharmion was
poised to fill a gap in the market. They would focus on late stage
product development, sales and marketing. Not on research. By taking
advantage of the team’s strengths without R&D overhead, Pharmion
could become profitable very quickly and become the “partner of choice”
for research companies both in the US and overseas.
NEA co-led the Series B round and was the largest investor in both
Series B and C. The firm believed strongly in the CEO, his team and
their abilities to create a strong company. Patrick had every faith
that what NEA, and specifically Jim Barrett, brought to the table was
just what the doctor ordered.
As Pharmion matured, the need to separate the CEO and
Chairman roles became clear. In one of the highest compliments an
entrepreneur can pay to a VC, the management team selected Jim as
Chairman of the Board. Obviously they had confidence in his judgment.
But Jim is also one of the great entrepreneurs of our time. His drive
and experience guided Pharmion’s successful IPO.
Why It Worked
While Jim Barrett has extensive business experience and a strong
medical background, he clearly understands the difference between the
role of a board member and running the company. Jim continues to
provide the high-level guidance Pharmion’s management team needs to
become a leading force in the pharmaceutical industry. In fact, to this
day, their CEO credits NEA with helping Pharmion to its IPO and
providing superior guidance every step along the way.
What The Entrepreneur Says
Jim Barrett is a great guy. He has a wisdom that can only come from
time and experience – a highly valued trait in a VC partner. Jim
understands how to run companies and knows how to steer them through
turbulent waters. He’s a steady force: he doesn’t overreact to the
things that relatively new companies may see as a crisis. His guidance
has made a very big difference in Pharmion’s success.
Back to Previous Page