Sunday, October 26, 2008
Merck Closing Seattle’s Rosetta Research Center, Cutting 300 Jobs | Xconomy: "Merck is leaving Seattle, and cutting 300 local jobs. The Whitehouse Station, NJ-based drug giant said today in its third-quarter earnings report that it is shutting down its Rosetta Inpharmatics research site in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood as part of a global cost-cutting plan to eliminate 7,200 jobs and save as much as $4.2 billion over the next five years.
The shutdown marks the end for one of Seattle’s most promising biotech companies of the late 1990s. Rosetta was founded in 1996 by Institute for Systems Biology president Leroy Hood, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center president Lee Hartwell, and “Hutch” researcher Stephen Friend. The company was sold for more than $620 million to Merck in July 2001, and a year later Merck decided to move the Kirkland, WA-based company to become one of the early biotech tenants to support Paul Allen’s vision for growth in South Lake Union, as described in this story I wrote for The Seattle Times.
It’s ironic that Merck says it’s dumping Rosetta now because it needs to cut costs. When it bought Rosetta’s technology in 2001, it integrated it throughout the company, to make the parent more efficient. Rosetta’s technology was used to analyze which genes are"
Here is the beginning of my post. And here is the rest of it.
The blow to Seattle's hopes of developing a biotech presence is immense. Merck's purchase of Rosetta and construction of the facility in SLU did a lot more than bring credibility to Seattle biotech in 2001. The unbique nature of Rosetta waqs in many ways more like an acadecmic center with its own possibilities for generating off shoots. Moreover, Merck/Rosetta played very well into a scenario where the strong computer science department at UW, along with Microsoft, might have led to a triangl within which a lot of other technology might have grown.
Finally, with Merck's departure, the likelihood of Seattle ebcoeing a center and a magnet for other large pharma seems very unlikley. These birds tend to flock together and are already well roosted in Pennsylvania/NewJersey. Tendrils to Bostonj are beomng strong roots as well as trees grwoing in San Francisco. With Merck gone and ICOS closed, Seattle's only nationally important activity is the local presence of Amgen in the former Immunex labs.
Will Amgen survive here? It is hard to predict. Amgen knows very well that it needs to grow new products at a high rate to remain competitive and its other campus in California is not close to an academci community. On the other hand, I have always wondered whether the rreal estate value of the AMGEN propertie's amazong location might not someday outweigh the vlaue of a presence in Seattle. Adding to this, inlike many other biotechs in Seattle, AMGEN does not have the traditions fo local collaboration that could engender difficult to break ties to our fair city.
Posted by SM Schwartz at 9:26 AM