M ark Schoenebaum was a brilliant and successful Wall Street research analyst who fundamentally changed the way Sellsider covered biotech stocks. More importantly, Mark was a remarkably nice guy. Wall Street is not known for warm and hazy people, but Mark has smashed that mold. He was nice and funny. He was sociable and unusually generous with colleagues, friends and even strangers.
Most biotech investors first heard of Mark's death in an e-mail sent by his friend and former colleague Umer Raffat on Sunday night.
] "We've all considered him the very best stock analyst on Wall Street," Raffat wrote. "But that was only part of who he was: he was an outstanding person who touched so many lives and whose strength of character showed in his humility despite his unprecedented success."
As news of Mark's untimely death spread on Twitter, others took time to publish their own memories. In all these tweets there was a common thread: Mark's humanity, thoughtfulness and generosity. He took time for people. He was a mentor. He offered guidance help advice .
This tweet by Mark was so well commemorated by Mark: "I was 24 and completely useless to Mark, but he did not hesitate to help . "
This is also the sign that I knew. As a reporter at the interface between biotechnology and Wall Street, Mark has been an invaluable source of information, context and analysis. He knew everything – and apparently everyone – what was going on in biotechnology. While other sell-side analysts foreclosed on paying institutional investors, Mark became surprisingly accessible. He shared his research reports freely with journalists. They were invited to listen to his conference calls and log in to his webinars. He was quick to return texts and e-mails. And if he got in the way of the trip or his insanely busy schedule, he'd apologize for taking so long to answer.
I am entering my twentieth biotech year to put Mark's career on Wall Street in perspective. So, without a hint of exaggeration, Mark was the most influential sell-side analyst I've ever known.
There are a lot of smart people in this business, but Mark's genius understood the changing role of sell-side health research on Wall Street. Investors wanted an honest information broker, not a stock picker. Mark understood that investors did not care which buy or sell recommendations he gave or what price targets he had. What they needed, even if they longed for it, was quick access to clinical data, analysis and historical perspectives.
Mark was the best in his job because he was the type on Wall Street that health professionals and general investors turned to understanding the most. The Why of Biotech Investments. He made the complex easy to understand. He has sent e-mails – many, many e-mails. Really so many emails. He used large fonts and rainbow colors. He was like a slightly nerdy but effusive biotech teacher. He loved biotechnology and it was this passion that drove us all to attend his class. Mark left Wall Street and biotechnology research in mid-2017. As he left, other analysts mimicked his style and methods. It's testament to Mark's mentoring skills that Umer Raffat, his former employee and student, has managed to become the industry's best biotech and pharmaceutical analyst.
Last December, I sent Mark an email titled "Let's catch up" after he posted on LinkedIn about a return to biotech. In a typical Mark manner, he responded to my e-mail as if to honor him by listening to questions.
"Hey Adam! Nice to hear from you, my friend. How's it going? I'm on vacation until the end of the year. Let's try to touch the base before or after the JP Morgan conference. Sounds like a deal? I can not thank you enough for the e-mail. Very attentive of you. I am sorry that I have not done a better job in recent years to keep in contact with you. "
In February we finally had the opportunity to talk to each other. We talked for about an hour and picked up. He was pleased with the opportunity to somehow return to the biotech world, perhaps lead a startup or join a company as a CFO. He sounded relaxed, rested and peaceful.
He sounded like the old Mark – the guy we all miss so much.