Owner-related Business Principles
We encourage all current and potential stockholders to read the owner-related business principles below that guide our overall strategy and decision making.
Each of our employees also has equity in the business, aligning their interests with their fellow stockholders. As employees and co-owners of Ironwood, our management and employee team seek to effectively allocate scarce stockholder capital to maximize the average annual growth of per share value.
Through our policies and communication, we seek to attract like-minded owner-oriented stockholders. We strive to effectively communicate our views of the business opportunities and risks over time so that entering and exiting stockholders are doing so at a price that approximately reflects our intrinsic value.
We believe that Ironwood has the potential to deliver outstanding long-term returns to stockholders who are sober to the risks inherent in the pharmaceutical product lifecycle and to the potential dramatic highs and lows along the way, and who focus on superior long-term, per share cash flows.
Since the pharmaceutical product lifecycle is lengthy and unpredictable, we believe it is critical to have a long-term strategic horizon. We work hard to embed our long-term focus into our policies and practices, which may give us a competitive advantage in attracting like-minded stockholders and the highest caliber employees. Our current and future employees may perceive both financial and qualitative advantages in having their inventions or hard work result in marketed drugs that they and their fellow stockholders continue to own. Some of our key policies and practices that are aligned with this imperative include:
a. Our dual class equity voting structure (which provides for super-voting rights of our pre-IPO stockholders only in the event of a change of control vote) is designed to concentrate change of control decisions in the hands of long-term focused owners who have a history of experience with us.
b. We grant each of our employees stock-based awards, and long-term equity is a significant component of their total compensation. We believe our emphasis on equity plays an important role in attracting and motivating the owner-oriented employees we seek and aligning their interests with those of their fellow stockholders.
c. We have adopted a change of control severance plan for all of our employees that is intended to encourage them to bring forward their best ideas by providing them with the comfort that if a change of control occurs and their employment is terminated, they will still have an opportunity to share in the economic value that they have helped create for stockholders.
d. All of the members of our board of directors are investors in the company. Furthermore, each director is required to hold all shares of stock acquired as payment for his or her service as a director throughout his or her term on the board.
e. Our partnerships with Allergan, Astellas and AstraZeneca all include standstill agreements, which serve to protect us from an unwelcome acquisition attempt by one of our partners. In addition, we have change of control provisions in our partnership agreements in order to protect the economic value of linaclotide should the acquirer of one of our partners be unable or unwilling to devote the time and resources required to maximize linaclotide's benefit to patients in their respective territory.
We work intensely to allocate capital carefully and prudently, continually reinforcing a lean, cost-conscious culture.
While we are mindful of the declining productivity and inherent challenges of pharmaceutical research and development, we intend to invest in discovery and development research for many years to come. Our singular passion is to create, develop and commercialize novel drug candidates, seeking to integrate the most successful drugmaking and marketing practices of the past and the best of today's cutting-edge technologies and basic research, development and commercialization advances.
While we hope to improve the productivity and efficiency of our drug creation efforts over time, our discovery process revolves around small, highly interactive, cross-functional teams. We believe that this is one area where our relatively small size is a competitive advantage, so for the foreseeable future, we do not expect our drug discovery team to grow beyond 100-150 scientists. We will continue to prioritize constrained resources and maintain organizational discipline. Once internally or externally derived candidates advance into development, compounds follow careful stage-gated plans, with further advancement depending on clear data points. Since most pharmaceutical research and development projects fail, it is critical that our teams are rigorous in making early go/no go decisions, following the data, terminating unsuccessful programs, and allocating scarce dollars and talent to the most promising efforts, thus enhancing the likelihood of late phase development success.
We work with our partners to establish redundancy at each critical node of the supply chain in the U.S. for lesinurad and globally for linaclotide. This mitigates against a fundamental risk inherent with pharmaceuticals - unanticipated shortages of commercial product. Likewise, we have established a commercial organization dedicated to bringing innovative, highly valued healthcare solutions to all of our customers. Our commercial organization, working closely and methodically with our global commercialization partners, strives to maximize our products’ commercial potential through focused efforts aimed at educating patients, payers and healthcare providers.
Our goal is to maximize long-term cash flows per share, and we will prioritize this even if it leads to uneven short-term financial results. If and when we become profitable, we expect and accept uneven earnings growth. Our underlying product development model is risky and unpredictable, and we have no intention to advance marginal development candidates or consummate suboptimal in-license transactions in an attempt to fill anticipated gaps in revenue growth. Successful drugs can be enormously beneficial to patients and highly profitable and rewarding to stockholders, and we believe strongly in our ability to occasionally (but not in regular or predictable fashion) create and commercialize great medicines that make a meaningful difference in patients' lives.
If and when we reach profitability, we do not intend to issue quarterly or annual earnings guidance; however we plan to continue to be transparent about the key elements of our performance, including near-term operating plans and longer-term strategic goals.