A Tweet Tip On Roche-Genentech


Before I go any further, try saying tweet tip three times fast.

In my less than five weeks on Twitter, I've gotten ideas for four blogs and late yesterday, for the first time, I got a legit news tip off a tweet (forthe uninitiated, that's what the short messages sent on Twitter are called.)

One of the people who follows me on Twitter sent a tweet saying that three top-level executives at Genentech were out the door. I did not re-tweet it (that's the Twitter term for posting someone else's tweet for your followers.) I mean, I don't know the tweeter, what his/her credentials are, who are his/her sources, etc. It's not like it was coming from a wire service or another print or electronic news media outlet. But I believe that often where there's smoke, there's fire. And, in this instance, that turned out to be the case.

After seeing the tweet, I immediately reached out to a couple Genentech contacts and a source, but got no response. About an hour or so later, though, the Roche press releaseannouncing the management shakeup at Genentech popped into my inbox. The tweet, at least, gave me some lead time so that when the news hit I wasn't caught by surprise and was ready to quickly send out my own tweets and alert the CNBC newsdesk. The info was almost instantaneously retweeted in my small, niche Twitterverse of biopharma peeps. The original tweet tip was on the right track, but not totally accurate. Two of the three execs are goners, but the third is being kept around in an "advisory role." By the way, Roche even has a Twitter account. Kudos for that.

Roche insisted it would let Genentech be Genentech. But based on these changes, I imagine some Genentechers probably think they're already being Rochefied.

You can bet that's one of the questions I'll be asking a Roche pharma unit CEO William Burns in a "First on CNBC" earnings interview on "Squawk Box" tomorrow morning around 6:15 a.m. ET.

Questions? Comments? Pharma@cnbc.com and follow me on Twitter at mhuckman