Monday, July 27, 2009

What a Cast of Characters!

Have you ever analyzed what is written in industry related press releases whenever a change in upper management occurs? As we enter the Dog Daze of August, I just put my board up for a few days to catch up on things. The first thing that is evident is that nothing really interesting is going on with the exception of Paradigm raising " $ 21.5 million, mucho dinero." Kudos Marc Viscogliosi on a job well done! I know that some other blogs that you the reader subscribe to have been talking about mergers and acquisitions, but I really don't see any existing technologies out there that would help the "Spine Cartel" in expanding revenue and marketshare. Neither do I see any prudent investors parting with hard currency in this market unless you are giving it to V3 (Tony, John and Marc), I'm trademarking that moniker. So I decided to look at archives of recent management transactions and then all of a sudden it hit me. How entertaining are some of these Press Releases are when you really have an understanding of our industry?

Example # 1: Back in April Scient'X Groupe, S.A., announced the appointment of Oliver Burckhardt as its President and CEO. The release stated, "OB was responsible for the Orthofix/Blackstone spine unit with revenues that exceeded $100 million in 2008. Of course part of this appointment was probably attributed to the fact that Healthpoint had to replace Mike Huggins who had some legal issues leftover from his Synthes/Norian days that have recently been adjudicated. But I'm not writing about Huggins, I am talking about OB, Scient'X and Healthpoint. If anything, OB had a brief stint at Blackstone. But was he really responsible for contributing to any of the $100 million in revenue? He was there for such a brief period that his coffee didn't have a chance to get cold. Yet, if you read the comments that were made about Huggins departure, you start to laugh, "during his tenure he strengthened the companies platform and positioned it for significant growth!" Are you kidding? If my memory serves me correctly, the guy was at Scient'X for less than a year. Just leave it to a bunch of orthopaedic investment bankers to serve up a plate of "BS" to potential investors. Question: What has Scient'X done recently? Outside of raising some capital, not much!

Example #2: Custom Spine: In January (I must be bored if I went that far back in time) CS announced the appointment of Lew Bennett as President. The company announced that "Demolition Lew" brings over 48 years of experience in the medical device industry. I didn't know there were people with that kind of longevity in our industry. The CEO stated; "We are really excited to have Lew taking the helm at Custom Spine." You've got to be kidding! Jack Sparrow has a better chance of surviving this ship wreck! The Board should be fired! The guy is an octogenarian and has left more than his share of collateral damage in the industry! Lew has consulted for over 550 orthopedic and neurological practices and universities, in addition to all the other accolades that he lists. He is legend (Will Smith look out) in his own mind. Some people need to stop living in the past. The only way he could create this much excitement would be if he was playing with his dosing of Viagra.

Example #3: Applied Spine Technology names Craig Corrance new CEO. If this guy isn't Bill Compton (the Vampire) from True Blood, I don't know who in our industry is. Will his return to the head honcho position bring some tranquility to his life? If he isn't warding off threats from a cadre of former Vampires (Altiva, Scient'x and Raymedica) I don't know who is. Didn't this guy get appointed in June of 2008 as the President of Raymedica? World class talent usually last longer than one year. Throw in the responsibilities of his newly turned fledgling Applied Spine, and it almost makes Craig yearn for the good old days of lurking in the shadows.

The Spine Blogger wants to know what some of you real people think?


  1. You can now add Paul Sendro to that list as he was announced as Executive VP at US Spine after spending time as CEO and Pres of Vertebron and was at Blackstone prior to that.

    The press release states "Sendro, who most recently served as President and CEO of Vertebron, Inc., helped increase that global medical device company’s sales threefold in less than a year." I thought Vertebron is going under (check out their website at - suspended) from your previous posts.

    I hope they all learn from their mistakes and the mistakes of their peers.

  2. Unfortunately, this industry is like the dystopian movie Soylent Green! Depleted resources means that the spine industry likes to survive on processed executive managers. I would like to ask the powers to be at US Spine to explain how Sendro increased the medical device company's sales threefold in less than a year only to result in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing, or was it Chapter 11 filing? Sometimes your head has to perform 360's like Regan's did in the Exorcist when Father Damien Karras and Father Merrin were attempted exocism. Thanks for the response!