No sleep, exiled mattresses, cleared bank accounts: Getting deals done at JPM
SAN FRANCISCO - The words "J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference" have come to signify more than the invite-only confab within the Westin St. Francis. Everyone who’s anyone in biotech—as well as everyone else—converges on the city for a week of presentations, cocktail receptions, media interviews and meetings that Drew Levinson, executive vice president, and director of media relations at LifeSci Communications, terms “speed dating.”
“We’re not just going into the Westin and doing it. We’re doing it by renting space ourselves in a hotel to do the same types of meetings,” Levinson said. These include meetings with potential investors, partners, and journalists—all in hotel rooms with incongruous floating headboards, but no beds.
LifeSci isn’t the only firm that does this. Other communications and investor relations firms do it too, and so do Big Pharmas like Johnson & Johnson and Takeda. Which raises the question: Where do all the orphaned mattresses go?
Celsius CEO Tariq Kassum, M.D., who has attended J.P. Morgan in several capacities since 2003, has two guesses.
“One is that they actually put them under the mattresses in other hotel rooms and they’re hidden by the bed skirt, so nobody actually knows there are two mattresses there,” he said. “My second guess is that they drain the hotel pools and just fill them up with mattresses and say the pool is out of order.”
The Fierce team considered the hotel basement, a cave and an airplane hangar as possible mattress-stashing locations. And Dan Budwick, founder of 1AB Media, figured hotels loaded the mattresses into the freight elevator and onto rental trucks to “basically sit somewhere, in a hotel garage or lot.”
Reality, though, is a little less fanciful.
“I never asked specifically where they went, but I was told they were taken to some storage facility,” said LifeSci’s Levinson.
That storage facility, it turns out, is another hotel room—at least, in the case of the Donatello Hotel, where MacDougall Biomedical Communications has booked rooms for its clients in the past.
Karen Sharma, managing director at MacDougall, discovered the temporary home of the exiled mattresses during her second or third J.P. Morgan.
“We were at the Donatello Hotel and I saw a hotel worker basically hauling mattresses out and lining them up on one of those push carts and then stuffing them into a room that was by the stairwell,” said Sharma, who’s on her eighth J.P. Morgan. “They were literally lining them up one against the other, against the other, against the wall.”