Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Ed Breen, killer of moonshots

Also in this week's C&EN, this is quite the article about Ed Breen, current CEO of DowDuPont (article by Alex Tullo): 
DowDuPont CEO Ed Breen says he prefers small, short-term R&D projects that quickly yield marketable products to moonshots that are risky and more expensive. 
Breen took over as DuPont CEO in November 2015 and quickly inked an agreement to merge with Dow Chemical. At the Bernstein Strategic Decisions Conference in New York City on May 31, Breen discussed his company’s R&D strategy. 
Breen said that he scaled back ambitious projects as soon as he was in charge at DuPont. “When I got to the company, we killed almost all of what I’d call the moonshot projects,” he said. “And, by the way, the moonshots cost the most money. I didn’t feel comfortable with most of them.” 
...Additionally, in late 2015, Breen recast DuPont’s Central R&D organization, famous in the chemical industry for its devotion to long-term projects, into a smaller organization, Science & Innovation.
Short-term profits first! I look forward to looking at his track record 5 or 10 years from now... 

11 comments:

  1. This dumb CEO is known as "break-up" expert! What you do not know, you do not see. If he is staying put for few more years he is going to out do "chainsaw Al (Dunlap)."

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  2. Reminds me of some words offered by the president of my division a couple years ago:

    "R&D guys, make sure you are focusing all of your efforts on the projects that are going to work and produce sales!"

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  3. Just look at what his predecessor, the former DuPont Chief Innovation Officer, has done to ACS in the last couple of years.

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  4. From the same article: "He said DowDuPont rolled out 20% more new products in 2017 than it did in 2016. This year, he expects new launches to increase another 25%."

    I left Dow before the merger, but my experience is that the term "new product" is used rather loosely. Add a bit of defoamer here, some pigment there, and you have a "new" product. For guys like this, rebranding is a synonym for innovation.

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  5. The master of the Delaware Chainsaw Massacre

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  6. Why is it that management is usually far more incompetent than it should be? This begins with PI's in academia who act as "advisors", and then it only goes up from there. I can only assume that if I were ever to be promoted (wont happen) Id be as dysfunctional as everyone around me at the level of management.

    Oh, wait, I know the answer: "the Peter Principle."

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  7. DuPont should consider manufacturing products using new materials it develops. Douche bags, for example.

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  8. Why would he care about what happens in 5-10 years? He's going to get his golden parachute and bail as soon as reality hits.

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  9. everyone in R&D should try to invest as much as they can in stocks and hope to get lucky because the investor class will be the death of long term US research

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  10. Name one successful "moonshot" project from Dupont in the last 30 years. Be prepared to define your definition of successful.

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  11. The word "innovation" terrifies me. The people who say "innovation" the most are invariably Ed Breen types who need to put on an act for the investors after firing 90% of the R&D department - Pfizer, DowDuPont, etc.

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