Portola CEO Bill Lis leaves at short notice

  • Push-out Score suggests push-out forces
  • After around eight years in the position
  • Accolades, praise and good wishes for Lis
  • Search for a successor
  • Lis spoke at length and said 95 words

(exechange) — South San Francisco, California, June 4, 2018 — Bill Lis, chief executive of Portola, leaves. It is a change at short notice. As announced by Portola Pharmaceuticals, Inc. in a news release and in a regulatory filing published on Monday, June 4, 2018, William (Bill) Lis leaves his post as Chief Executive Officer at the biopharmaceutical company after around eight years in the role, effective August 1, 2018.

Among the 3,000 largest publicly held companies incorporated in the U.S. based on market capitalization, the average tenure of the CEOs who departed over the past 12 months was 9.4 years, according to data compiled by exechange.

Portola will undertake a search for a successor.

“Important inflection point”

A reason for Lis’s imminent departure from the CEO post was not explicitly given. Hollings C. Renton, Chairman of the Board, said: “Portola is at an important inflection point in its history as the Company turns its focus to the successful launches of Andexxa and Bevyxxa, and a potential third medicine progressing to late stage development. We are committed to bringing on board a new CEO with strong global commercial experience and the demonstrated expertise to build on our excellent foundation and lead Portola through its next exciting chapter.”

Precise information about Lis’s future plans was not immediately available.


Portola said: “William Lis has informed the Board of Directors of his plans to retire as Chief Executive Officer and member of the board.”

Portola further said: “On June 3, 2018, William Lis notified the Board of Directors of Portola Pharmaceuticals, Inc. … of his decision to retire as the Company’s Chief Executive Officer and a member of the Company’s Board of Directors …, effective August 1, 2018.”

Share price decline

The change follows a decline in the share price of Portola Pharmaceuticals, Inc. since July 2017.

Chaired by Hollings C. Renton

Portola Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is chaired by Hollings C. Renton.

Hollings C. Renton has served as a member and the Chairman of the Company’s Board since March 2010.

In the position of CEO since 2010

William Lis has served as the Company’s Chief Executive Officer and a member of the Company’s Board since April 2010.

Lis served as the Company’s Chief Operating Officer from November 2009 to April 2010, as the Company’s Vice President of Business and Commercial Operations from May 2008 to October 2009 and as the Company’s Senior Director of Business Development from May 2005 to August 2005.

Prior to Portola, Lis held various management positions at Scios Inc., a biotechnology company and a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, a medical devices, pharmaceutical and consumer packaged goods company, including Vice President Business and Commercial Operations from November 2007 to April 2008, Vice President of Business and New Product Development from August 2005 to November 2007 and Director of Cardiovascular Marketing and New Products from January 2004 to May 2005.

From November 2003 to December 2003, Lis served as a consultant to Biosite Incorporated, a medical diagnostics company, and to Millennium Pharmaceuticals.

Following the acquisition of COR Therapeutics, by Millennium in 2002, he held various positions, including Director, Marketing and New Product Development from February 2002 to November 2003.

From October 1999 to February 2002, Lis held various positions, including Product Director, at COR Therapeutics.

Lis holds a B.S. in Business Management and Finance from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Lis will continue to serve as CEO and member of the board through August 1, 2018 to ensure a smooth transition, after which time he will remain in an advisory role.

During the period prior to August 1, 2018, Lis will remain as Chief Executive Officer but will reduce his involvement in day to day operations.

John T. Curnutte, M.D., Ph.D., Executive Vice President, Research and Development, and Mardi Dier, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, have been appointed as interim Co-Presidents of the Company, effective immediately.


Generally speaking, when a top leader announces to step aside with no successor in place, it is a sign that the move was unplanned and too early.

Push-out Score suggests push-out forces

It is not completely certain what forces eventually triggered Bill Lis’s imminent move.

The Push-out Score™ determined by exechange suggests that push-out forces may have contributed to the change.

Read the full story in the exechange report 24.2018 ($).