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The J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference kicks off on Monday. It’s the one that everyone in biotech has circled on their calendar a year in advance. It’s not because there is a frenzy of news; journalists operate under the assumption–usually correct– the week ahead of the conference is for news, while the conference is for speculation, drinking and networking.Brians Post

But amidst the smog of gossip, there are a few absolute truths:

1. Whatever is Hottest is Almost Certainly Overhyped. Each year, there is a technology or therapeutic area that ends up being on the tip of everyone’s tongue. Last year it was nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. Past years have seen hyperventilating over RNA interference or Obamacare. Some of these stories pan out. Some don’t. But the level of volume at J.P. Morgan is a lousy crystal ball.

2. Those With the Most Interesting Perspectives Don’t Make Drugs. J.P. Morgan is about looking into the future (“the outlook for 2015” will appear about a hundred thousand times in stories and analyst notes around the conference), but the folks who has the most invested in accurately describing the future of medicine tend to be the ones delivering the care, not the ones delivering the drugs. The not-for-profit track, filled with hospitals and health systems, often paints a far more fascinating picture of the future than biopharma does.

3. Breakouts > Presentations. There is something special about seeing questions asked face-to-face, with no script. That’s what happens in the cramped breakout rooms. So the folks who really want to go deep slide out of presentations 10 minutes early and grab prime seating in the breakout room.

4. Parties Are Irrelevant. People Are Not. J.P. Morgan novices tend to get worried about getting into the “right” parties; an informal look puts the shindig count somewhere in the 70s. But there are no “right” parties (unless you have an independent interest in, say, circus performers or Scotch being served by gentlemen in kilts), only “right” people to see. If you know who those people are, you’ll be fine. If you don’t, no amount of party-hopping will help.

5. You “Win” J.P. Morgan in June, Not January. Most people judge their J.P. Morgan performance by the number of meetings they hold, and most attendees would be happy to share the precise number of one-on-ones they’ve booked. But swapping business cards for four days means nothing if there’s no followup until everyone arrives in San Francisco in early 2016. The players who use meetings as a springboard to a phone call in February, a lunch in March and deal in June are the ones who maximize their time. Quality, not quantity, people.

Look forward to seeing you all there.

When reflecting on the past year, so many emotions come into play that it is impossible to adequately put them into words.  What I will say is that the words of the late Steve Jobs were incredible markers for me as we progressed during the year.

We started 2014 with an intense focus on strengthening the bottom-line – improving margins and profitability — and we ended the year exceeding both of those goals with strong momentum going into 2015.

Probably even more importantly, we got back to what made this firm so successful:  We put our clients first as well as the work we do and results we deliver for them.

We also refocused on a core set of priorities and investments — people and technologies that matter, and are truly aligned with our strategy to “disrupt the status quo” – clarifying our Software as a Service as a Service (SaaS Squared), positioning and introducing new offerings in Analytics, Corporate and Strategy (Crisis, Change, Reputation), CCX and Media and Engagement (PESO).

As Steve Jobs once said:  “I’m as proud of the many things we haven’t done as the things we have done.  Innovation is saying no to a thousand things.”

We made improvements in Infrastructure and expanded our footprint with new offices.  And of course we continued to do what we do best – partner with world-class organizations and brands – to transform the way they connect with customers, engage employees, beat the competition in the marketplace and forge new pathways to the future.

TheBestIsYetToCome

None of this could have been accomplished without YOU.  I’m most proud and humbled by all of you – the dedicated professionals comprising our firm.  There is not a challenge, a roadblock, a problem or an issue that you can’t overcome.  There’s not an opportunity or a change that isn’t embraced by you.

Once again, Steve Jobs’ words resonate:  “I think if you do something and it turns out pretty good, then you should go do something else wonderful, not dwell on it for too long.  Just figure out what’s next.”

An important symbol of that mentality was the formal restatement of the firm’s Values.  The very essence of what make us, well, us.  These Values were forged at the beginning – when I first embarked on what has become an incredible personal and professional journey — battle-tested and honed over the years.  And these Values truly reflect the set of principles and beliefs guiding our behavior.

When I talk about Values, I’m also speaking about career development and growth.  We will continue to support and expand W2O University and I’m asking all of our leaders to recommit to content and facilitation of specific programs and courses to build our individual and collective competency and confidence.  Our Center for Social Commerce at the Newhouse School at Syracuse University is a premier example of what a modern academic-business partnership is all about – we are training the next generation of marketing and communications professionals.

From a Thought Leadership standpoint, our efforts at JP Morgan, SXSW, Page, CES and IPR, to name just a few, are increasingly strategic and precise in terms of ROI and reach.  Adding to this was our first-ever European-focused Social Intelligence Summit hosted by our London office and attracting both a significant on-site and Webex presence extending our Brand throughout a region still less familiar with us and what we can do for them.

One of the more impactful aspects of 2014 was the realization to continue our growth and globalization aspirations, the opportunity to partner, acquire or join up with another organization must be considered.  To that end, we held numerous discussions with a variety of larger global players who could provide capital, footprint and resources if we were to choose such an option.  However, my priority in doing something like that rests with having the confidence that such a partner is compatible with our culture and respectful of our people.

At this point, my belief is that we can continue to do what is necessary ourselves – given our strong leadership, incredible staff, improving financial position and operational infrastructure, and, most importantly, our unique culture of entrepreneurialism, innovation and collaboration.  If, at some point, we identify the right partner or partners, and it feels right, we will explore the validity of such a move.

To quote Jobs again:  “Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me . . . going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful . . . that’s what matters to me.”

From where I sit, I could not be more proud and excited about where we are.  And after 13 years, it’s safe to say our journey is just beginning.  There are three things that I ask you to think about often during the coming year:  1) Be interested, not interesting; 2) Think Big, but act in small, focused and effective ways; and 3) be creative by being curious.

Thank you all very much for all you do . . . from my family to yours, have a healthy, prosperous new year!

And to paraphrase Steve Jobs once more:  “In 2015, let’s put a ding in the universe.”

Sincerely,

Jim


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During SXSW Interactive, one of the largest digital conferences in the world, it’s become increasingly difficult to be heard above the noise of thousands of companies

and individuals vying for attention. For our company — W2O Group — we’ve found that hosting a series of events can be a great way to get noticed by the people you care about. But this year, we’re also going to do something a little more playful to help break through the clutter. Yes, we are asking for your BEST SXSW pickup lines. And while we know this isn’t going to cure cancer or raise anyone’s IQ score significantly, it can be a fun way to engage with your fellow attendees while poking fun at ourselves a little at the same time.

The hashtag we are using is #sxswpickuplines. To get the creative juices flowing, here are a few examples of good (or bad depending on how you look at it) pickup lines:

  • Wow! Nice data! #sxswpickuplines
  • Hey, code here often? #sxswpickuplines
  • I’ll show you my Vine if you show me yours. #sxswpickuplines
  • Would you like to see my data stack? #sxswpickuplines
  • You’ve stolen the ASCII to my heart. #sxswpickuplines
By way of background, we are borrowing this playful idea from Ron Leuty of the San Francisco Business Times who decided to jazz up the tweet stream of the JP Morgan Health Conference held in San Francisco back in January. You can read more about the impetus of the meme from Ron in his post here. We also understand that props go to Adam Feuerstein, Sr. Columnist at TheStreet.com, and our own Brian Reid who wrote about the top 10 tweets from JP Morgan and what they mean.
If you’re not a Twitter-er, you can always post your best pickup line in the comments below. And who knows, we may just have some prizes for best #SXSWpickupline after all is said and done.

Today begins the annual J.P. Morgan Health Care Conference, the long-running biopharma investment confab that marks the unofficial New Year for the corporate world in biotech, pharma and medical devices. Though the meeting is officially limited to the Westin St. Francis in San Francisco, small meetings, receptions, coffees and a thousand different kind of networking spill out throughout the city.

And — increasingly — those conversations spill onto the Internet, too. A few years ago, a few hundred tweets were the norm at the meeting. This year, the conference could push the 10,000-tweet barrier. What’s interesting is not only the content of those tweets, but how the Twitter around J.P. Morgan (and its hashtag, #JPM13) are connected. After all, as the cliche goes, it’s not what you know. It’s who you know.

Last year, after the the conference ended, I published two graphs showing how online influencers connected to each other during the meeting (the “Feuericane” map that shows the impact of TheStreet’s Adam Feuerstein), and how they connected to different companies. But the folks at PureTech Ventures — the Boston-based venture group that’s behind the Appeering tweet curation tool — wanted to do one better and show those connections in real time.

Below is Appeering’s JPM Interaction Map;  a visualization that users can explore to see who is communicating — and about what — at the conference.  The map is interesting to explore on its own, but for more information, you can double-click on any node, which will bring them to Appeering conversations about that user or company. So come back often to watch how the conversation evolves.

[embedsite width=”100%” frameborder=”1″ seamless=”1″ src=”http://www.appeering.com/widgets/graph_jpm6.html”]

This map tracks the Twitter total interactions around the 2013 JP Morgan Healthcare Conference. The map is updating real-time and constantly accruing all JPM 2013 data … check back often!

Update: a full-size version of the graph is available on the Appeering  site.

The title of Neil Young and Crazy Horse’s famous album, Rust Never Sleeps, aptly describes what we are doing here at W2O Group these days. If you missed it, we announced the launch of our new Social Commerce Center in partnership with Syracuse University’s Newhouse School in early November. We also announced the launch of W2O Digital in Austin a few weeks ago. Today, I am excited to let you know that we’ve added another member to the W2O Group family.

Our latest addition is called BrewLife and it joins other W2O entities, WCG, Twist, NextWorks and W20 Digital. Paul Laland, a long time member of the W2O Group will be running the new agency. Rather than steal his thunder, I encourage you all to read his kick off blog post here. We’ll be talking a lot about this at the JP Morgan Annual Healthcare Conference in San Francisco this week.

 

About 8,000 people officially attended the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, the biotech-investment marked by crowded hallways, expensive drinks and general excess. But a much larger audience, including me, watched the meeting from afar via new media, from a hundreds of webcasts to thousands of tweets.

I wanted to capture what the meeting looked like for those viewing it through the lens of social media, and four charts tell the story.


Two years ago, when online discussion of J.P. Morgan hit the mainstream, there were a few hundred tweets. A blog post at the time said the #JPM10 hashtag was “widely used.” A year later, the number of tweets had almost doubled. And we’ll nearly quadruple last year’s number. The online aspect of the meeting has exploded.

But it’s not fair to say that the in-person aspects of the meeting took a back seat to Twitter. A look at tweets in the two weeks leading up to the meeting shows that those on Twitter were interested in connecting in real life, not cyberspace. The most often-used word? RSVP.

So what companies garnered the buzz on Twitter? If you were a newsmaking biotech, that helped. So did presenting earlier in the week. And having Adam Feuerstein of The Street take a special interest in a company helped boost tweets. On this map (complete map also available), bigger circles mean more tweets and retweets including the ticker symbol. And thicker lines means more attention from a given tweeter.

Of course, for those of us in the communication game, it’s always interesting to see who managed to generate the most retweets. This sprawling map (complete PDF copy also available) shows every RT or mention about #JPM12 over the past three weeks — all 2,000 of them. As ever, the big drivers were journalists, with Adam Feuerstein — again — coming up as far-and-away the most-engaged guyon Twitter.

If you’d like more information on the flow of social information at a future meeting, please let me — or your WCG contact — know.

In about 72 hours, I’ll unplug and get on a plane to do to the annual pilgrimage to the J.P. Morgan Healthcare conference, a crowded, business-attire-preferred gathering of investors and representatives of a huge swath of the world’s life science companies.

Ostensibly, the meeting is an investor conference, filled with a staggering 350 half-hour presentations. The formal program is not an entirely comfortable affair: it’s not a cheap ticket to get, and the day is filled with speeches in standing-room-only conference rooms. It doesn’t have to be that way:  the presentations are webcast live, meaning that anyone can tune in from anywhere and spare themselves the jostling and neck-craning.

And, yet, the numbers are in: the hallways at the St. Francis in San Francisco will again be as swollen as ever with suit-clad biotech insiders (preliminary numbers suggest 20 percent more official attendees than 2010). The enduring popularity of the event is an intense reminder that, even at a time when Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is the reigning Time Person of the Year, there is no replacement for the offline social network.

Proposals will be floated in the hallways, deals discussed over wine. Reporters, seizing on the convergence of so many sources and newsmakers, will pack notebooks full of details from face-to-face interviews, both scheduled and serendipitous. It’s an inspiring, feverish environment that can’t be re-created over a phone line, helping to explain why SFO will be packed this weekend with scores of BioWorld readers.

That doesn’t mean that there won’t be social media engagement during the confab: in addition to the webcasts, there is a Twitter hashtag (#jpm11, and check out WCG’s analysis of Twitter activity at J.P. Morgan a year ago), a LinkedIn page, and plenty of Facebook chatter. Adam Feuerstein of the thestreet.com will liveblog as much as he can. And we will, of course, steep ourselves in those conversations.

At the end of the day, we go where the action is. More and more, that has meant spending more time online. Not next week. Next week, we’ll be sweating through overheated breakouts and complaining about the difficulty of snagging a drink from the swamped bartenders around Union Square, just like thousands of others. See you there.

In about 72 hours, I’ll unplug and get on a plane to do to the annual pilgramage to the J.P. Morgan Healthcare conference, a crowded, business-attire-only gathering of investors and representatives of the world’s most significant life science companies.

Ostensibly, the meeting is an investor conference, filled with 200-plus half-hour presentations. The formal program is not an entirely comfortable affair: it’s not a cheap ticket to get, and the day is filled with speeches in standing-room-only conference rooms. It doesn’t have to be that way: for the most part, the presentations are webcast live, meaning that anyone can tune in from anywhere and spare themselves the jostling and neck-craning.

And, yet, I can predict with great confidence that the hallways at the St. Francis in San Francisco will again be as swollen as ever with suit-clad biotech insiders. The enduring popularity of the event is an intense reminder that, even at a time when Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is the reigning Time Man of the Year, there is no replacement for the offline social network.

Proposals will be floated in the hallways, deals discussed over wine. Reporters, seizing on the convergence of so many sources and newsmakers, will pack notebooks full of details from face-to-face interviews, both scheduled and serendipitous. It’s an inspiring, feverish environment that can’t be re-created over a phone line, helping to explain why SFO will be packed this weekend with scores of BioWorld readers.

That doesn’t mean that there won’t be social media engagement during the confab: in addition to the webcasts, there is a Twitter hashtag (#jpm11, and check out XXX’s analysis of Twitter activity at J.P. Morgan a year ago), a LinkedIn page, and plenty of Facebook chatter. Adam Feuerstein of the thestreet.com will liveblog as much as he can. And we will, of course, steep ourselves in those conversations.

At the end of the day, we go where the action is. More and more, that has meant spending more time online. Not next week. Next week, we’ll be sweating through overheated breakouts and complaining about the difficulty of snagging a drink from the swamped bartenders around Union Square, just like thousands of others. See you there.

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