Friday's TSB Case Study got us thinking. Maybe it was time to stop at the VTI (Vertebral Technologies) booth and visit with Dr. Galacto and his Space Monkey. So that's exactly what our roaming eyes on the Street decided to do in hopes of getting a Groupon ticket for a discount for using the InterFuse device in surgery. Much to our disappointment no one offered us the Groupon discount. It was also emphasized that the monkey would not perform any tricks. So this got us thinking, didn't we write something about VTI on November 3, 2009, entitled, "Is VTI's UPLIF UPLIFting?" It's amazing how well the mind still works. Well fellow bloggers, at that time there were comments from a select group of surgeons that probably invested in the company, and were using the product. By the way, do any neurosurgeons actually use this product? So TSB decided to seek out a few former employees, and some others that have sunk cash into this venture. What we found out is that the UPLIF is not quite as UPLIFting, as VTI would make you think. In addition, some of these investors are not even selling or using the product. So the question must be asked if its hot, why not? After three and a half years could VTI be stuck in a colloid hydrogel. If you get a call from an investing surgeon asking you to invest because things are going great, run. Why? Well for one thing, if things were really going that well why would a surgeon be calling up and asking someone to invest in a company that is sooooooo hot? Have you ever met a surgeon willing to dilute his equity? The problem seems to be that the CEO and a select group of the investors have placed a premium on getting the nucleus replacement device tested rather than focus on the challenge at hand, generating revenue for the UPLIF and TLIF. From all reports, VTI's sales have been flatter than Twiggy's chest, and even the monkey has brought no magic. Poor leadership is well, poor leadership. Maybe OTW should send the CEO and new VP of Sales a copy of Nuts and Bolts, they just might learn how to develop some people skills. It has been reported that the company has had issues with their TLIF product, this can be substantiated by an article published in OTW, dated January 2011, when the FDA gave VTI approval for their T implant. Limited launch? Hannibal and his army crossed the Alps faster than VTI can get their TLIF into the marketplace. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16 months and counting. The word on the Street was that the original T design had become too difficult to implant using either an MIS or open approach, therefore they had to shelve the product and redesign.
Intra-operative challenges? Why not send a company representative to each and every case, now there's great money management. While at the VTI booth at AANS, we evaluated the quality of their implants and instruments. What we found cheap looking prototypes that were designed in someone's machine shop, rather than manufactured by a "real" instrument maker. Hey, if you want to be a legitimate company, start acting like one. After performing further due diligence, it was interesting that this CEO has traveled down this road on multiple occasions only to blow out a tire here, and lose a tail pipe there. So, TSB must ask the proverbial question, is this the next company to go by the way of Cardo Medical? Vertebron? Archus? IST? There are many similarities. You be the judge and jury. As TSB stated, poor leadership is well, poor leadership.
A dysfunctional organization? Well you know what they say...... has a way of rolling down the hill.