Active Life Science VCs & Twitter: Correlation? Causation? Randomness?

What happens when you combine a crowdsourcing effort to identify active life science venture capital funds and add a couple of biotech entrepreneurs active in social media? In this case: a spreadsheet and a blog post.

Crowdsourcing Data

In the fall, there was a discussion on Twitter about the importance of life science entrepreneurs understanding whether the venture capitalists they are pitching have active funds. Fortunately for the community, the folks over at PureTech Ventures launched an effort to crowdsource that information. If you haven’t been there already, check out the draft of the list and please contribute your knowledge.


Meaningful Use of Social Media in Biotech

Behind the scenes, I was trading messages with another biotech entrepreneur Andrew Steen of MetaCyte Business Lab based in Louisville, KY. Since neither of us in on the coasts, much our casual conversations with VCs occurs via social media, the equivalent of standing in the same coffee line at Area Four in Kendall Square in Cambridge. As Andrew and I chatted about active VCs, we joked about whether the actively investing funds would also be the ones most engaged in social media efforts such as Twitter.

We combed a variety of biotech Twitter lists and updated our own biotech VC lists on Twitter. Unfortunately, the Twitter API isn’t the easiest way to see who people are and where they work so we created a spreadsheet. Here’s where you do your part: 1) Check out the list, arranged by firm and including real names in addition to Twitter handle. 2) Tell us who we are missing. (Spreadsheet updated 27 January 2013. Thanks to Nicholas McKeehan and Andrew for the updates.)

So are the active VC funds the ones out there on Twitter?

  • Fifty eight VC firms (excluding PureTech Ventures) have a real life person with a Twitter account (not a corporate account).
  • After checking the most recent version of the funding activity spreadsheet, thirty five of those fifty eight firms have active funds.

As always, there are caveats to the data. For example, just having a Twitter account doesn’t mean that these folks are using the tool. Also, some of the funds on our list weren’t on the PureTech Ventures list. In the case of locked Twitter accounts, I included the accounts that were clearly biotech related and left off the ones that were clearly or may have been personal. While the data doesn’t give an answer about why, the majority of the VC funds represented on Twitter are actively investing. 

One of the nice finds in curating the list was that there are some corporate VCs (Amgen, Merck, Pfizer) out in the Twittersphere. Another interesting feature is the number of European firms, some very active (e.g. Index Ventures).

Joining the Conversation

So if you’re interested in Biotech Madness here in San Francisco this week, check out the conversations that biotech venture capital folks are having using my biotech VC list or Andrew’s life science capital list, which has an even broader group of healthcare investment tweeters. And if they’re too quiet with all the meetings of this week, you can always head back to #JPM13 & #BTS13.


3 comments on “Active Life Science VCs & Twitter: Correlation? Causation? Randomness?

  1. dylanlevac
    January 8, 2013 at 12:52 am #

    Hi Laura,

    This is a really unique approach to crowdsourcing. Ever since I Bora Zivkovic scored a job at PLoS One by crowdsourcing and the explosion of crowdsourced video games attempting to solve complex problems I’ve been convinced this is where we are going.

    I hope this initiative has helped you and your friends support your industrial research initiatives!


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