Boxers or Briefs: Biotech versus IT

One of the more entertaining party questions when hanging with VCs is a variant of “boxers or briefs?” It is, IT or biotech? Fans of investing in the former point to IT’s long-term returns, the ability to get partial successes, the size and frequency of exits, and the absence of regulatory barriers; fans of the latter point to the barriers to entry, the rapidly improving science, and the human willingness to pay virtually anything for better health.
While all of this might seem to tip the scale in IT’s favor, most biotech and many IT investors think that IT is past its peak and may even have matured as a venture category, while biotech finally has the tools and data to become a more consistent winner. So, is biotech set to exit its boom-bust past? Perhaps, and it’s about time:


  1. Dimitar Vesselinov says:

    Fundamental limitations on 21st century biotechnology
    by John Smart
    “All important substrate emergences, or phase transitions, appear to require both primarily bottom up, and secondarily top down control processes.”
    ” ‘Genetically engineered humans,’ redesigned for increased performance, now appear to be the ‘atomic vacuum cleaners’ of the 1950’s—fantasies that will never come to pass, for a host of complex reasons.”
    “We are stuck with our genetic legacy code, and we won’t be able to significantly reengineer it until we move to an entirely new computational substrate.”
    “It appears that the era of genetic exploration in human organisms is largely over.”
    “In summary, biology, while it will still yield a host of socially valuable benefits in coming decades, is essentially a saturated substrate. We will gain a host of new knowledge from the biological sciences, but we won’t use that information to redesign humans, in any significant biological sense. There won’t be time or reason to do so.
    Infotech, not biotech, now appears to be the constrained developmental future for local intelligence.”