On Genentech and lists

Summer's here and the tech magazines are full of lists. Business 2.0 just came out with a list of 50 PLAYERS WHO MATTER NOW. Wired countered with the 40 MOST WIRED COMPANIES.

Here's how the two top tens look:

PLAYERS                                                  COMPANIES

1. You                                                      Google
2. Sergei Brin & Larry Page                        Apple
3. Paul Jacobs (Qualcomm)                        Samsung
4. Rupert Murdoch                                     Genentech
5. Steve Jobs                                             Yahoo
6. Susan Desmond-Hellmann (Genentech)     Amazon
7. The Emerging Global Middle Class             Toyota
8. Fujio Cho (Toyota)                                   General Electric
9. The New Oil Despots                                 News Corp
10. Ray Ozzie                                                SAP

I'm struck my Genentech's prominence, both as #4 at Wired and #6 at Business 2.0. How can Susan Desmond-Hellmann, who is President of Product Development at Genentech, matter more than the CEO's of Microsoft, HP, Yahoo or News Corp? There's something a bit fishy here. Is it possible that the Genentech has slipped one of their new drugs into the tech press' collective watercooler?

Genentech is wired because:

Will biotech kill the blockbuster? Rather than aiming drugs at broad populations with scattershot results, Genentech is developing treatments for specific patient groups. Its success has Big Pharma reaching for the smelling salts.

While, Desmond-Hellman matters because:

While other drug companies chase the balding and the erectile-challenged, Desmond-Hellmann keeps biotech pioneer Genentech focused on creating drugs that make the difference between life and death. She spent years battling AIDS in Uganda and cancer in Kentucky as both a physician and a medical researcher, and those experiences have done much to shape Genentech's current priorities. Thus far, she's overseen the clinical trials and approvals of such successes as Avastin (colon cancer) and Tarceva (lung cancer). She's also shepherding in a new era of patient-targeted treatments with Herceptin (a breast cancer treatment that works best on women who carry a specific pattern of genes) and ensuring that Genentech's pipeline includes promising treatments for ovarian cancer and basal skin cancer. Genentech is already hailed as a pioneer, but if Desmond-Hellmann can turn cancer into a manageable disease, she may well earn a place in the history books alongside the likes of Jonas Salk.

But who is going to pay for Desmond-Hellmann/Genentech's wonder AIDS drugs in Uganda? Not the impoverished African AIDS victims. And certainly not Genentech who aren't in the business of giving away their products for free.

No, that money will come from philanthropic foundations, particularly the Gates Foundation, with its magnificently generous commitment to AIDS research in Africa. And where does Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett and his Foundation come in the two polls? Gates is #21 in Who Matters Now, while neither Melinda Gates or Warren Buffett aren't in the top 50. Meanwhile the Gates Foundation, with its $60 billion war chest and commitment to change the world, doesn't appear anywhere on the Wired 40.

So, as lists go, these lists don't get on my list. Maybe Wired's list isn't all that wired; maybe  Business 2.0's list doesn't really matter.