Shkreli's Inability to Focus, Immaturity Cost Him Retrophin CEO Job

Martin Shkreli is super smart. You might even call him brilliant. He's ambitious and should be congratulated for starting a biotech company, Retrophin (RTRX) , from scratch when many people said he was crazy to try. But running a publicly traded biotech company requires focus and a special set of management skills Shkreli lacked. As Retrophin grew (some would argue too fast), drug development projects fell behind schedule, deadlines missed. Promises made were not kept. And of course, there was the Twitter thing.

It became increasingly clear to everyone inside and outside Retrophin that Shrkrei was overwhelmed. His inability to focus, move important tasks forward -- and let's be honest, his immaturity -- were hurting the company's future. Investors were losing confidence.

On Tuesday night, Retrophin's board made a change. Shkreli is out as CEO, replaced on an interim basis by Stephen Aselage, who steps up from being the company's chief operating officer.

Management turmoil is never good, so it may take awhile before Retrophin shares return to the low-$20s peak seen last spring (The stock closed Tuesday at $9.02). But Aselage or the permanent CEO once named has an opportunity to turn Retrophin around if they can show investors real progress on the experimental therapies for rare diseases which Shkreli brought into the company. It's therapies like RE-024 for PKAN which got people excited about the company in the first place. This was before Retrophin got bogged down buying old drugs just to jack up the price a la Questcor and generate quick revenue. 

Retrophin's drug pipeline has real potential and it's a testament to Shkreli's creativity and vision, but the company needs to find an experienced CEO to finish the job. 

I said the following on Twitter tonight and I'll repeat it here: Martin is super smart and will be a great asset somewhere, but he is not a CEO. I wish him the best.

Adam Feuerstein writes regularly for TheStreet. In keeping with company editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, although he owns stock in TheStreet. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. Feuerstein appreciates your feedback; click here to send him an email.

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