A bit earlier I seem to recall a reply on biotechs, something to the effect that we do not know how to evaluate them so they are not discussed here.This seems to me to be a big cop-out. If we (collectively) can not figure out how to evaluate them who can?The biotech revolution, after several false starts has begun. IMHOThat said, I would like to start a biotech discussion. Consider Incyte INCY for example.1) Patent protection - Yes. This would seem to make it a gorilla candidate.2) Tornado activity (probably the entire biotech segment) yet little discussion.3) INCY has soared from 16 to 280. I can site many other examples.4) 75% of pharm companies subscribe to its gene database. Royalties anyone?5) Because of point 4, this company has clearly crossed the chasm.That said, many of these companies do not have profits.Heck, I am not sure that CRA has even crossed the chasm, but it is up over 500% since a FOOL recommendation. Based on the last statement, it appears that the game being played is more like a Godzilla game.What is this anyway? An Orangutan game???This tornado seems to be spawing many oranguatans (gorillas?)There are immeasurable rewards to figuring this out.I propose we give it a shot.Any Takers?
Hello mishedlo,CRA was discussed beginning with post #354. Tinkershaw points out, in post #355, that the only thing that might keep CRA from being a gorilla are the low switching costs. However, CRA does have most of the gorilla traits and is, like you stated, as close to gorilla status as can be.I myself, having limited funds, picked up HGSI at $90 per share right after it split. I should have sold something to pick up CRA two days ago. Oh well, good luck with your holdings. They should turn outstanding profits for years to come.I'll stay tuned to see how the brighter minds on this board put it all together. Have a great weekend,stibbles :)
A bit earlier I seem to recall a reply on biotechs, something to the effect that we do not know how to evaluate them so they are not discussed here.This seems to me to be a big cop-out. If we (collectively) can not figure out how to evaluate them who can?It's not a cop-out by any means. The book The Gorilla Game is about investing in high technology. All of the 'craft' and years of study that is in that book is focused on a specialized field of study of technology adoption life cycles in the high tech arena. I don't think that we can apply this model of study to the biotechnology field in any way that would produce an effective model. We're having enough trouble applying it to where it is aimed. Although it might be a creative process, I see no need to fit square pegs in round holes.Hence, the preference should remain focused on what the book has taught us. Heaven knows, there are plenty of opportunties within high technology for sorting out gorilla games, godzilla games and royalty games to keep us occupied through various current technology adoption life cycle studies and those that will come in the future.I will not dispute that biotechnology is indeed an important, lucrative investment area to study. There are lots of boards on the Fool devoted to it, but it doesn't fit my knowledge of The Gorilla Game.I don't consider that a cop-out.BB
I agree with both posts in this thread that have received multiple recommendations. The Biotech revolution HAS started, with lots of money to be made if we can figure out a way to evaluate them. BUT, I also agree that the Gorilla Game is based on HIGH Technology, not Biotech. So, what are we to do?There's nothing that says that the GG principles aren't applicable to Bio"TECH", but I think we need to be prudent and look for the things that are unique to Biotech, in order to pinpoint the true Gorillas, Godzillas, or let's say, Creatures from the Swamp.I tend toward an analytical preference of evaluation (quantitative v. qualitative), so bear with my predisposed bias. That said, I stumbled onto the following post, at the "l'union fait la force" board, that attempts to look at the Biotech companies in a quantitative way:http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?id=1380180000635000Credit to Idorius for the good piece of work.I would suggest his analysis as a starting point for discussion on how to evaluate this industry.I like the analysis because it ties in three important success factors for biotech companies: the research pipeline, current FCF, and potential for sales growth.I have an interest in continuing this discussion. But should we move to a more appropriate discussion board?
Hi all: There is a biotechnology board here at TMF, where it is reputed that EricSelverin (I think I spelled that right) has done some good work along your lines of comment. You might try there.I lurked there for a while, and it looked promising. I had to quit to devote more time to other boards.Hope this helpsHarold
Bruce,Thanks for your reply and I will suggest that we move this thread to a biotech board if you feel that is more appropriate.Juste as Moore added a chapter on Godzillas, I predict another new chapter on biotechs may be forthcoming.
To JSRdaMan,Wow! Great find on biotech analysis.Hats off to Idorius. I leave it up to you. Should we move this discussion to a new board or an existing biotech board? To not further tie up this thread with this discussion perhaps further E-Mails should be private, unless there is a quick reversal of opinion to leave this discussion here. =====================================================That said, I stumbled onto the following post, at the "l'union fait la force" board, that attempts to look at the Biotech companies in a quantitative way:http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?id=1380180000635000Credit to Idorius for the good piece of work.
For those interested:Let's continue the subject discussion on the Biotechnology discussion board.
There are immeasurable rewards to figuring this out.I propose we give it a shot.Any Takers?I have not read past your post, so I suspect some may suggest that you go try the biotechnology board, but I would like to see someone link the gorilla game investing philosophy to biotechnology; like you, however, I am not sure it works (it certainly is not what Moore et al. had in mind). In GG terminology, however, I agree that we have not crossed the chasm even though the "revolution" has begun in the sense that the investing public thinks we will enter the tornado some day soon. Anyway, I am not sure GG can be applied to biotech, but I would enjoy anyone's thoughts to the contrary.
Great discussion, folks. This is something I've been thinking about for a while now.First a note for BruceBrown since I've learned more from him than from the book itself: I agree with and understand your reasons for exclusion of industries outside of high tech. The book is very specific and the theories rely on very distinct competitive dynamics. It's hard to apply the theories literally outside of this arena. However, I believe that the Gorilla Game has value beyond the strict interpretation of the rules and can help us in understanding any industry where a limited number of players seem to dominate and hold their position. One of the first problems with analyzing the biotech industry is the fact that it is considered one industry. I'm sure many of you feel the same way when some "expert" on CNBC refers to the "Tech" industry as one unified creature. Biotech, like "high-tech", is a tapestry of industries that have fundamentally different dynamics. Like high-tech, most of these industries are not Gorilla Game jungles. But I believe some may be.The first mistake is to consider the traditional biotechs. Despite it's success, AMGN is not a gorilla (even though many toss the term around simply because it has executed so well). No vertically integrated biotech can be a gorilla because they operate, for the most part, in isolated spaces. Just because AMGN has mastered one technique for developing a drug doesn't mean that DNA or BGEN has to capitulate and use that technology. In fact, the traditional biotech industry is no different in structure that the pharmaceutical industry that, as is obvious, does not exhibit Gorilla Game characteristics.Despite this, there are other new and evolving industries that have, for one reason or another, been lumped together with these vertical drug developers. Because they are technology developers whose products are applied horizontally across the drug development space, they tend to develop competitive dynamics very different from the typical biotechs. Some of these industries have the ability to (in some cases this has already happened) develop extensive value chains around their enabling technologies.One example is genomics. Without bogging everyone down with details, genomics is the gathering, organization, and presentation of genetic data to advance drug development. Currently, all major drug companies are beginning to integrate genomic data into their development effort and it's believed that most of the important drug discoveries in the next few decades will be based on genomic information. Currently, many players, including a publicly funded effort, are competing to provide this information. As we move forward, the pure sequence information will begin (and already has) to acquire more detailed annotation and proprietary added value. It is my belief that one company will end up defining the standard for genomic information and become the dominant force in the value chain that condenses around it. Whether or not this develops into a Gorilla Game will depend on the degree of value that a company can add to the sequence to differentiate it from the offerings of competitors. There are other biotech industries, proteomics, directed evolution, etc., which exhibit similar dynamics. Sure, this isn't exactly high-tech, but I think the Gorilla Game can investors a lot about how to view these industries and pick good companies while they develop. BruceBrown is right: forget strict Gorilla Game analysis. But let's see if we can use the book to make us better investors in these new and exciting industries.-S
Gorilla Friends,friend SlyAce,I would enjoy anyone's thoughts to the contraryOkay, you'll get some of my layman, uninformed but considered thoughts. This is in good faith and I would appreciate your response.Biotech and gorilla game:Very hard to consider as a gorilla game because biotechs are so unpredictable. Some high dollar stocks are riding on only one compound (this is what the biotech guys call this stuff). Unpredictability comes from many fronts.1/ One can have very considerable $$$ invested in a compound and gets it into phase 3, this takes years in itself, only to have a patient die, sorry, and even not from the treatment...but....stock tanks big time.2/ FDA has a bad hair day...stock tanks.3/ The compound is effective, it works, but not enough to supplant the currnet space holder...stock tanks.4/ Somebody sues, completely fraud suit...but...stock tanks.5/ One has the latest and greatest drug and on the road to record sales, a rumor arises about a better drug from a start up...stock tanks. 6/ Some terrorist stuffs a bottle with some not so good compound...this has happened, remember tylonol? Leading stock tanks big time.So many things can happen, its no wonder why one cannot trade a "system" of biotechs.However, I have bought some biotech, not such a smart guy, but only with spec funds. Only small positoins. Not investment funds.Method:Research and find the medical/bio area that you feel comfortable about. Look at the focus and method of the compounds attack and think if it sounds reasonable. Learn about the biology.!! See if the target population is big enough to generate big revenues. Does the research firm have a sponsor, big time drug money companies? Is the company betting the house on one avenue or are there multiple areas of research? Put your money down and be prepared to wait for years.Returns can be very high, but risks and wait times are also very high.Hi-Tech gorilla games are much more predictable and are not subject to as many wild cards as biotechs.Just my humble O.Thanks,Nick
Hello,"The Gorilla Game" is an excellent book that presents a readily understandable model which purports to explain why some companies have come to domninate in the high tek industry. The GAP CAP model is just that, a model. We humans have a very limited attention span and a very limited ability to maintain more than six(6) discrete facts in mental view at a time. A picture gives us a memory hook on which to recall all kinds of details. The GAP CAP model lets us fool ourselves into a belief that we can "see" why something is the way it is. By looking closly at the characteristics of the companies in high tek that have acheived "Gorilla" status, we can read history into book form to show how the "Gorilla" had to come to be. Well the GAP CAP model fits the history and serves well to educate and amuse. Now, what are you going to do with the model? Will it perform as a scientific hypothesis to predict the outcome of the next discontinious innovation cycle in high tek? Well, maybe and maybe not. Is the model a specific subset of factors that only apply to the Silicon-Electrical-Signal-Processing-Computer-Telecommunications-Internet-Hardware-Software industries or does the GAP CAP model have a more generalized application?As I understand the book, it outlines three strategies for the investor:1. Buy a basket of stocks and sort the winners(Gorillas) from the losers over time.2. Place your bets just as the dust settles on a few clear winners(Gorillas, Kings, Princes) as the Tornado disipates.3. Buy only clearly dominate (Gorillas) after they have entered the appreciation phase of expanded CAP.What the hell is specific to high tek about that advice and the GAP CAP model? RANT...missing convergence and generalization of a model is a sure way to miss out on learning and on making money. The term technology is not limited. Anything that is designed, produced, transferred, utilized and applied is a technological product. The fact is folks, technological innovation has no pre-existing constraints other than the limitations imposed by the level of advancements of science in any of the areas of study or buckets that we have defined. What I am really going on about here is elitism and blindering. If the Gorilla group wants to get starch shirty about pure High Tek and only focus on High Tek, then what the hell is High Tek? Silicon, Software, Computers, Cell Phones, Supercondutor Filters, SAW Filters, Diodes, Transistors, Chips, Photo-optics, satellites, narrow band spectrum, broadband spread spectrum, gobal positioning sats, etc? or is it really the ideas that each of these innovations embody?The Gorilla Game is a set of ideas that kind of work to explain kind of how a set of industries arrived at where they is right now, and that is subject to changing constantly. Convergence, evolve or die, revolution overthow of the old, reinstatement of the old/new. In My Not So Humble Opinion biological understanding and innovation will stand on the shoulders of High Tek and reach down and jerk it up by the ears into an entirely new set of rules and on to a new playing field.The Gorilla Game applies to discontinious innovation and a model that can be used to access where in a life cycle that the industry and specific companies are positioned. I think Bio Tek and High Tek are gonna get slammed together in a major way. Models will flow freely back and forth between the two Teks untill the ideas that get used will sound the same. The similarities between the two Teks are much much greater than their differences. This is getting way long. Hold that similarites thought.By the way, I think the Bio Tekies and the High Tekies ought to be playing in the same sand box.Think The Best Thoughtsbens
Bens,I appreciated your spirited post. I don't recall anyone saying that biotechnology is not an important sector for the world, for companies and for us as investors and consumers. I have money invested in the sector as well and will continue to do so moving forward. We're not pitting one against the other by any means. If that was suggested by anyone - I missed it entirely.The books authors are Geoffrey A. Moore, Tom Kippola and Paul Johnson. Paul is senior high technology analyst at BancBoston Robertson Stevens. Tom is managing partner of The Chasm Group and wears several hats in the venture capital community for high technology as well as serving on several boards and is director of Whisper Communications. Geoff is a writer, author, chairman of The Chasm Group and is a partner with a venture capital group. They are all pretty specialized in what they do and their vast knowledge of the high tech industry. George Gilder is another specialized visionary in the high technology field that many of us follow. I'm sure that if they were all specialized in the biotechnology field, a likely collaborative effort would have prevailed as well. Perhaps there are already other books written on the subject, I don't know. There are certainly newsletters as I get both Michael Murphy's newsletter and The Bull Market Biotechnology report. Even the Bull Market separates their newslettes and research/reporting/study into four categories:--- 1. The WIRELESS Investor--- 2. The DRUG AND BIOTECH Investor--- 3. The INTERNET INVESTOR Investor--- 4. The FINANCIAL SERVICES InvestorThe GAP and CAP model is not limited to high technology by any means and the authors do not claim it to be. In the book's instance, they used it on the high technology industry. In the revised edition, they decided not to 'avoid' the issue of what many in the market were calling 'tulips' and 'fraud schemes'. Instead, they decided to present a first look at the space which they called the Godzilla space to try and grasp the Internet based models. They used the Icarus Scoring System as a possible entry level way of coming up with a strength or weakness in a variety of Internet based business models.I will hasten to add that this first attempt is an ongoing, changing model study that is still 'up for grabs' as I participate on the gorilla game listserv digest which Geoff posts to on an occasional basis. He has already changed his scope at how he is looking at Godzillas, so the danger is that the models are adjusting, attempting to clear the dust so it can settle and we really don't know enough at this point. Yet, the excitement is there.As I understand the book, it outlines three strategies for the investor:1. Buy a basket of stocks and sort the winners(Gorillas) from the losers over time. 2. Place your bets just as the dust settles on a few clear winners (Gorillas, Kings, Princes) as the Tornado disipates. 3. Buy only clearly dominate (Gorillas) after they have entered the appreciation phase of expanded CAP.What the hell is specific to high tek about that advice and the GAP CAP model?I think the book pretty much outlined how specific this advice was in the high technology industry. The dynamics of the golf swing, the tennis stroke and a side-armed fast ball have more things in common than they do differences as well. Yet, you will find few that can apply the same exact model to all three to produce the same results. Perhaps a very poor analogy, but I continue to believe that the amount of energy, effort and discovery to apply what is in the pages of The Gorilla Game - "Picking Winners in High Technology" - to another field of study might be counter productive to the focus of gorilla game study within, as you say: "Silicon, Software, Computers, Cell Phones, Supercondutor Filters, SAW Filters, Diodes, Transistors, Chips, Photo-optics, satellites, narrow band spectrum, broadband spread spectrum, gobal positioning sats, etc?"If the Gorilla group wants to get starch shirty about pure High Tek and only focus on High Tek, then what the hell is High Tek?Hmmmmmmmm.......BB
Hello Bruce,Trapped on the isle of Crete, thrown into the Minotaur's labyrinth, playthings for the halfman halfbull, Daedalus fashions wings of wax and feathers for himself and his son Icarus. The two men fly out of the labyrinth and escape the Minotaur. Happy ending fade to days of Elysian bliss romping with Pan and nymphs on verdant fields of green. Wrong, dunder head Icarus, doing the royal Nah Nah fooie poo, feeling his adrenal rush mixed with a mite to much macho testostroin-e ignores the warning label on the wings. You know the one that says, "Warning exposure to excessive amounts of thermal engergy can lead to phase change in the interfluidic adhesion of the base paraphane and feather vacoules and lead to a potentially catastrophic failure of the flight surface." Yeah, you know the warning label, unfortunately written in Greek cursive instead of block style. So in his elation at the triumphant escape from the Minotaur and the feeling of flight, Icarus soars highter and higher, until the sun melts the wings and he hurtles to his death. The purpose of discussion is to ask questions and seek out old and new knowledge. And on occasion, encounter someone that will tip over the damned tea cart.Feynman : "What do you care what other people think about you?"Points:1. A model is never the deux machinis.2. A map is never the terrain.3. Every design has short cuts, trade offs, out of budget, out of time, the designer left, etc.4. The wise have their own agendas.5. An analogy is just a short story with a point. I appreciate the list of references, two new ones there which I will foolishupon. Thanks for the information.Now, back to the point...What is High Technology?Is it the design, innovation, invention, product of years of research, the ah ha! in the shower, a good idea incarnate in silicon, GaAs, chips, scopes, 'puters, equations, concepts, packaging, ect? Or is 'High Technology' as I would propose the application of a concept clutch of ideas that has been thing-a-fied to the point that 'everybody gotta get sum of dat'?I'm gonna presume here that you are familiar with Pareto Analysis and probably the history of the invention of this tool. For those folks that are not familiar here be a bit o fable or fact. The tool lines up a group of similar things in some order, usually the biggest first, then the next biggest and then the next and so on. Now, this came about in the 15th century and was done by a guy named Pareto. He was a contempary of that politico Niccolo Machiavelli.What Parteo had set out to do was to solve the problem of who had the wealth in 15th century Italy and how that wealth was distributed among these folks. He discoverd or uncovered a few key points from his analysis. They are, 20% of the people possess 80% of the wealth in 15th century Italy. So? you ask, well thank you. If the discussion of distribution of wealth had remained just that discussion then this "Distribution" principle defined from a wealthy people study would have had to be rediscovered before modern statistics and by extension quality control could be invented. The point is that any population can be placed into a particular kind of model and meaningful results obtained from that exercise. So what does this have to do with High Technology, 'gg' and Bio Technology, human endeavor my friendly fool. We is apes that tend to repeat what is successful. The business model for High Technology and the business model for Bio Technology are essentially the same, just out of step in time. Imagine for a moment that this Venter is Shockley or Moore&Grove, now where is the business model for High Technology? It dosen't exist yet. I think the sun must be over the yard arm somewhere, thinks me, I'll go crack open a bottle of "Los Vascos" from the Domaines Darons De Rothschild(LaFite), a really nice '96 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve and celebrate the convergence of High Technology and Bio Technology.Think The Best Thoughtsbens
Some thoughts to throw out in this very interesting discussion (forgive me if these have been offered elsewhere):The reason I haven't invested in biotech is that it seems to be subject to variables/risks that I don't encounter in "high tech" (which in my mind may include biotech, but for purposes of this discussion I mean to include everything other than biotech). One variable is that, at least until now, biotech seems (to this lay person) to be a much more inexact science, relatively speaking. It seems that with digitally-based "high tech" products, you can more easily measure and explain their effectiveness (i.e. "when you input A, you get B every time, and we always know why"). It seems that with biotech, there is a higher degree of empiricism involved (i.e. "when you input A, you get B some of the time, depending on many unpredictable biological and behavioral variables, and we have an idea but we're not exactly sure why or when this will happen). Therefore, the ability to anticipate which products and/or companies will succeed and dominate seems to be diminished.Another reason I've avoided biotech is the government regulation variable. Unlike CSCO, biotech companies have to obtain Federal approval for new products. The fate of even established companies can be seriously affected by this often unpredictable variable.Another reason I've avoided biotech is the liability variable. Unlike CSCO, even after getting federal approval, biotech companies are vulnerable to potentially disastrous liability claims when their products fail for unforeseen (or undisclosed) reasons, or even when their products don't fail but some ambitious lawyer and/or quack scientist has a theory.Another reason I've avoided biotech is the consumer/doctor preference variable. Biotech largely involves direct-to-consumer products - you manufacture a medicine and you market it to consumers (albeit through their doctors in most cases, who are often paid handsomely to favor one product over another) and it either succeeds or not in the often fickle healthcare marketplace. In "high tech", on the other hand, it seems to me to be easier to find and exploit a deeper value chain - that is, you can go three or four levels down and find the companies that provide the infrastructure and supply everybody and aren't as subject to marketing hype and consumer preference (a CSCO or JDSU, for example).Anyway, my point is not to discuss my personal investing strategies, but to pose the question: What effect, if any, might these variables have on the application of the Gorilla model in biotech investing? Would they prevent it, or merely impede it, or have no bearing at all? I don't claim to know the answer, I'm just posing the question.One thought that occurs to me is that the biotech field is changing in a way that might make it more amenable to Gorilla-style analysis. With the advent of digitized genetic mapping, it may become a more exact science (i.e. input A, and you always get B, and you always know why). As results become more predictable, so might the prospective success of one or another product or company, and so might our ability to pick Gorillas.Another thought is that this creates a value chain that is better subject to exploitation by Gorilla investors. We now see "high tech" companies like Millenium and Celera that can supply all of the biotech manufacturers with information and infrastructure and aren't subject to the variables discussed above. They would seem to make money whether the government ultimately approves a product or not. However, would this chain operate on as many levels as the "high tech" chain that we're presently familiar with? Does it matter?Just throwing these thoughts out to generate discussion among the more enlightened. If I'm being impertinent, by all means let me know.
Hey there zig,I share some of your misgivings about biotech.. it hasn't stopped me from making money on biotechs, but they can be difficult to measure.The speed to market advantage definitely goes to hi tech. Bio tech is heavily regulated. The trials take forever. It can take 10 years and 600 million dollars to get one product to market... then it has to compete.Hi tech gorillas and godzillas are either winners or losers in 3-4 years... sometimes sooner.I agree with you about the prospects for litigation resulting in a catastrophic decision, although you seem biased, calling the lawyer merely "ambitious" while labeling the scientist a "quack" :)The science behind biotech is often indecipherable to the layman. I understand less than 2% of the technical language in bio tech press releases. I understand less than 10% of the explanations of those same releases by the kind articulate board members involved in the medical field who post translations.I run some of my stuff by a client who works at Amgen... if she says the science is "brilliant" and seems "very promising, very marketable" I buy. I don't like investing that blindly, or in relying on others translations. That said, drugs are discontinuous innovations. Drugs cross the chasm. Drugs enter the bowling alley. Drugs are proprietary. Drugs have high switching costs. Doctors and hospitals rally around the market leading drug and standardize on the product, excluding competitors. All classic gorilla criteriaI'm intrigued as well by the melding of hi tech with biotech. Chips embedded in cells, etc.The companies that combine the two will truly be gorilla candidates.
duuwhee said:<<I agree with you about the prospects for litigation resulting in a catastrophic decision, although you seem biased, calling the lawyer merely "ambitious" while labeling the scientist a "quack" :)>>OK, I'll call the lawyer "sneaky" and the scientist "misguided" ;>)<<That said, drugs are discontinuous innovations. Drugs cross the chasm. Drugs enter the bowling alley. Drugs are proprietary. Drugs have high switching costs. Doctors and hospitals rally around the market leading drug and standardize on the product, excluding competitors. All classic gorilla criteria.>>Yes, that would seem to be the case. I guess the variables I mentioned might make it more difficult to apply Gorilla Game analysis to drug companies, but wouldn't necessarily preclude it. There are also the companies in the biotech supply chain like Millenium and Celera that don't make or market drugs, but perhaps behave more like high tech infrastructure or platform companies.I wonder, though, if we "standardize" around drugs to the degree we do with other high tech products. Does a given drug generate new, related enterprises that support and reinforce the use of that particular drug, or does the drug product pretty much stand on its own until a better one comes along? Similarly, what are the switching costs associated with drug products? If a given drug becomes popular, but a more effective drug come along, it's relatively easy to switch, whereas if you've invested tens of millions of dollars in CSCO routers, you're less inclined to switch to an entirely new system.Again, I suppose this wouldn't necessarily prevent application of Gorilla Game analysis to drug products, it might simply make fewer biotech enterprises eligible as Gorillas.<<I'm intrigued as well by the melding of hi tech with biotech. Chips embedded in cells, etc.The companies that combine the two will truly be gorilla candidates.>>Yes, I think it's inevitable that they will increasingly intertwined as biotech becomes more predictable and precise, more digitally oriented. How this will fit within Gorilla Game analysis remains to be seen. Cheers.
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