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Not long ago, the name Flagship Pioneering was as likely to elicit an eye roll as a nod of approval.

The decades-old venture capital firm had built its reputation with access to billions of dollars and world-class scientists. But it was also famous for pouring money into companies with vague and impossibly ambitious goals. Few had yet proven their worth.


The architect of this brazen approach was Flagship’s founder and CEO, Noubar Afeyan, whose reputation for taking bets on untested, pie-in-the-sky ideas was matched only by his flair for trumpeting both scientific advances and the firm itself in the same breathless and grandiose style. One press release promoted the company as “unique,” “disruptive,” “unforeseen,” and “unprecedented” — all in the same paragraph.

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  • Thanks, Katie for exploring this topic and company. I am curious to how the workplace culture described here can foster diverse perspectives and talent. I have not seen any data on their talent demographics.

  • Yikes. I don’t want to interrupt this love in between STAT and Flagship but I’m curious…

    “They don’t have a tolerance for people who aren’t strong at what they do”

    If they’re so strong then why are there so many failures? If their HR is so strong then why hire ‘weak’ employees in the first place? Supposedly smart people who do not know how to use the word ‘literally’ makes me question everything else they have to say.

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