When Neil Kumar first started BridgeBio, there were no titles and no meetings. “That was a disaster,” the CEO admits. The point of this approach was toward proving that the company was a different place to work, focused just on doing cool science. Besides, Kumar says he is insanely distrustful of hierarchical systems in general, as he doesn’t believe a centralized command and control structure to be the best way to solve complex problems. “We had a bunch of people with different skillset working together to try to solve things, so it didn’t strike me that there needed to be a CEO or c-level that decision making needed to go through.” From his perspective, drug discovery and development is the ultimate team sport, as nobody is taught or knows everything about all of the steps in translating early-stage research into an approvable drug. “Titles tend to assert that one person knows more about how to bring those pieces of information together than another, which is often not the case.” Kumar’s concern was that in a hierarchical organized organization, people can become too dependent on the opinion of one particular leader, which is when mistakes happen. “Not having titles was a desperate attempt to avoid that, but we ended up having to change that because it didn’t work out,” he confesses.
Kumar is the subject of an upcoming feature in Life Science Leader, in which he details his startup journey. Be sure not to miss out on learning from this intriguing entrepreneur by becoming a subscriber today.