Alphabet CFO Anat Ashkenazi jumps from GLP-1 boom to generative AI

Alphabet Outgoing CFO Ruth Porat spent the last 12 months and a half helping her web company navigate the boom in generative artificial intelligence. The one who was just named as her successor was as much as her neck in a really different phenomenon: anti-obesity drugs.

Alphabet announced on Wednesday that Eli Lilly Chief Financial Officer Anat Ashkenazi will turn into the brand new CFO after a virtually year-long search. During that point, Ashkenazi has managed the books of the world's most useful pharmaceutical company, which has struggled to take care of supplies because of such high demand for weight-loss drugs Mounjaro and Zepbound.

“Hundreds of thousands of people fill prescriptions for Mounjaro and Zepbound, but we understand the frustration of those who face delays in prescription dispensing or uncertainty in the delivery of their medicines,” Ashkenazi said on Eli Lilly's first-quarter earnings call in April.

The two drugs belong to a category of treatments called GLP-1s which have gained popularity lately because of their effectiveness in weight reduction. The drugs, which also treat diabetes, work by mimicking a hormone produced within the gut to suppress an individual's appetite. About one in eight adults within the U.S. have used a GLP-1, based on one study. Survey published last Month by the health policy research organization KFF.

Eli Lilly shares have risen 90% over the past 12 months and are trading at a record price. The company reported better-than-expected leads to April and raised its full-year forecast.

“In her last three years as CFO of Lilly, we have experienced tremendous growth and laid the foundation for reaching even more patients with our medicines,” said Eli Lilly CEO David Ricks in a Press release On Wednesday.

Ashkenazi, who spent the last 23 years at Eli Lilly, is moving from the pharmaceutical giant's Indiana headquarters to the San Francisco Bay Area at the tip of July – at an equally crucial time for Google. The finance department is grappling with a restructuring that affects all the company as Google prioritizes investments in AI to maintain pace with a rapidly evolving market.

Porat takes on a brand new role as President and Chief Investment Officer at Alphabet, nine years after Morgan StanleyShe and Ashkenazi will each report back to CEO Sundar Pichai.

Alphabet didn’t reply to CNBC's request for an interview with Ashkenazi.

Ashkenazi, 51, began her profession in Israel within the financial services sector, and when she joined Eli Lilly in 2001, she got here through a enterprise capital division focused on healthcare technology.

On her strategy to CFO in 2021, Ashkenazi was chief financial officer for global divisions, including manufacturing and research and development, and served as chief strategy officer. She took over as head of the finance department after then-CFO John Smiley resigned after he was accused of getting an inappropriate relationship with an worker, and he lost thousands and thousands in bonuses and stock awards.

When she was promoted, Ashkenazi noticed one frustrating point: She was the one female CFO within the biopharma sector. Her path had been relatively easy, she told CNBC in a 2022 interview. She had moved to the U.S. from Israel over twenty years ago and got here from a really different culture where gender inequality was less of a difficulty. Being the one woman on the table didn’t deter her.

“I don't care,” Ashkenazi said. “But not everyone has that attitude, especially in the Midwest.”

Ashkenazi said on the CFO Thought Leader podcast last 12 months that she spent five years in numerous parts of the organization, the business from different perspectives.

“This experience has broadened my scope of expertise,” she said.

According to public records, Ashkenazi holds a master's degree in business administration from Tel Aviv University and a bachelor's degree in economics and business administration from the Hebrew University.

Fastest growth in a long time

Founded in 1876, Eli Lilly has long been considered one of the biggest pharmaceutical corporations within the United States. The company is understood for introducing the antidepressant Prozac within the Nineteen Eighties and Cymbalta about 20 years later.

However, the previous few years have been a period of historic growth for Eli Lilly because of the explosive popularity of GLP-1. Sales of the diabetes drug Mounjaro, which was in its first first full 12 months in the marketplace and the rapid launch of the newly approved weight-loss injection product Zepbound helped Eli Lilly's sales rise 20% to $34 billion last 12 months, the strongest growth since 1990, based on FactSet.

This success, together with the potential of highly anticipated drugs similar to the Alzheimer's drug donanemab, pushed Eli Lilly's market capitalization up to almost $800 billion, making the corporate the biggest pharmaceutical company by market capitalization.

As demand for its weight-loss and diabetes treatments outstrips supply, many patients are struggling to seek out the drugs. Ashkenazi said on a conference call in February that the corporate had doubled its production capability for its incretin drugs by the tip of 2023, thanks partially to considered one of its latest facilities in North Carolina.

Eli Lilly also announced 2.5 billion US dollars to open a production facility for injectable products in Germany and to moreover 1.6 billion US dollars to construct two latest production facilities in its home state of Indiana.

“Our manufacturing organization continues to successfully execute the most ambitious expansion program in our company’s long history,” Ashkenazi said within the conference call.

This will not be the primary time Ashkenazi has needed to oversee a fast-paced production.

In 2020, the Trump administration announced an agreement to buy Eli Lilly’s Covid-19 antibody treatment as a part of the Department of Health’s “Operation Warp Speed.” The next 12 months, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stopped One of Lilly's Covid-19 antibody treatments, bamlanivimab, notes that therapy alone may not work well against variants.

Ashkenazi said on the CFO podcast that Eli Lilly entered the Covid testing market to attempt to ramp up production at a time when it was urgently needed.

“We are not a medical device manufacturer, nor are we a hospital,” Askhenazi said. “But we decided to step in at our own expense and set up a testing facility in the basement of our building.”

Ashkenazi also helped digitize some research in the course of the pandemic and expanded predictive analytics for manufacturing and sales.

“We didn't stop there,” she said. “We decided to develop therapeutics and antibody treatments for Covid, which were outside of our business.”

Ashkenazi has needed to take care of loads of public pressure along the way in which. Last 12 months, when whistleblowers and government groups criticized the high prices of recent obesity drugs which have been life-saving for some people, Eli Lilly announced Price reductions of 70% for probably the most commonly prescribed insulins and the expansion of a program that caps patient co-payments for insulin at $35 monthly.

An Eli Lilly spokesperson said the $35 program existed under Medicare Part D before this announcement.

In April, Eli Lilly reached a $13.5 million settlement with insulin drug buyers. scrapped after a judge refused to permit a category motion lawsuit within the case.

Last 12 months, Eli Lilly accomplished a whistleblower lawsuit filed by a former worker alleging manufacturing problems and faulty practices in pricing diabetes drugs and insulin. In 2021, the U.S. Department of Justice opened a criminal investigation into an Eli Lilly plant in New Jersey for alleged manufacturing practices and data falsification. The FDA found additional deficiencies on the plant last 12 months, Reuters reported in January.

Another Google

At Alphabet, Ashkenazi inherits a set of equally big but very different challenges.

The company's core promoting business is on the mend after a difficult 2023, when corporations drastically cut promoting spending to address rising inflation and macroeconomic concerns.

Revenue rose 15% in the primary quarter, the fastest growth since early 2022. The company announced its first dividend and a $70 billion buyback program. The stock price is up 26% this 12 months and is trading near its all-time high.

But the corporate has been on the defensive for much of the past 18 months after OpenAI's ChatGPT launched in late 2022, catching Google by surprise and sparking investor concern that buyers might soon have latest ways to seek out information online. Google responded with a series of generative AI product launches that were criticized as rushed, and in some cases the corporate needed to backtrack because of glitches.

Although Alphabet is considered one of the biggest corporations on the planet, it stays a founder-controlled company. Larry Page and Sergey Brin own shares, based on the most recent Proxy submission.

Ashkenazi also comes at a time of cultural change at an organization that was known for top salaries, extravagant perks and a vibrant corporate culture in its early a long time. Employees have recently expressed frustration with declining morale tied to the corporate's continued cost-cutting, despite record profits and orders to return to the office after the pandemic.

REGARD: Google rolls back AI search tool

Google resets AI search tool after asking users to eat rocks

image credit :