In the News, Reviews

Employees Sound Off on the Future of Genentech: 100% Roche?

In this week’s news, the future of Genentech crept up as word that Roche, a Swiss drug maker which has owned all or majority parts of Genentech since 1990, was planning on an aggressive bid to take over the company in its entirety – which would account for 44% of Genentech shares it does not already own. In spite of Roche’s significant ownership, Genentech has long been recognized for its independence. Perhaps Genentech’s autonomous corporate attitude is what has led to the success of the company. As you’ll see from the snapshot below that compares Genentech and Roche, Art Levinson’s (CEO of Genentech) noted commitment to science may be just the thing that has led to high employee satisfaction at the workplace, but would this continue if Genentech were to become Roche? Genentech CEO Art Levinson garners 93% approval rating where as Roche CEO Franz Humer receives a low 33% approval rating.

Glassdoor Report: Genentech v. Roche
  Company Rating CEO Name CEO Rating
Genentech 3.9 (Satisfied) Art Levinson 93%
Roche 3.3 (Neutral)  Franz B. Humer 33%

Talk about the potential Roche buyout has been in the news for some months now, so it’s no surprise that employees in both camps are talking about the impact this would have – not all positive.

Below are some highlights of what employees at Genentech are saying about the possible Roche takeover. It’s interesting to note that these employees fear that morale will suffer if Roche has a bigger role at the company and if Art Levinson is pushed aside. Currently, employees at Genentech give the company a high satisfaction rating (4.3) when it comes to employee morale whereas Roche has a neutral rating at 3.3.

Clinical Specialist (Atlanta, GA)

“ART LEVINSON!! Don’t under estimate the employee trust in him. It’s the best company in the US. The culture is laid back, real, and we have a great time working and playing. This is one of the most fulfilling jobs I have had…Genentech is invested in providing drugs to anyone and everyone that may benefit from their products.”

Engineer I (South San Francisco, CA)

“The company is growing at a very fast pace and sometimes it is hard to keep up with everything that is going on. Also the impending Roche takeover might spell the end of the Genentech culture. The Genentech culture is very important towards sustaining the creativity and productivity of the employees. It is hard to determine whether Roche will be able to provide a similar environment especially in the current economy.”

Senior Clinical Specialist (Location unlisted)

“The pending Roche buy out makes some of us a little concerned that our great thing will change. None of us know for sure what the future but I would guess most of us wish Roche never offered to buy the rest of us.”


Just as we see with the company reviews from Genentech employees, Roche employees are also wary of the consequences of a complete acquisition of Genentech.  Concerns from Roche employees vary from employee morale to job security.

Account Manager (Location unlisted)

“Roche is in this business for the long-haul, not to appease Wall Street analyst’s quarterly expectations…Much uncertainty around the impending Genentech acquisition. Even though Roche is buying Genentech, it certainly feels like the new organization is going to be more like Genentech than Roche. (Wanting to preserve Genentech culture….moving commercial operations from NJ to South San Francisco).”

Principal Research Scientist (Palo Alto, CA)

“Projects are varied and interesting – plenty of opportunity to do good science…Top company management are good bankers, but not particularly at developing new drugs.” In advice to senior management, this employee adds: “Move as quickly as possible on merger with Genentech. Currently, you have chaos at three sites (Palo Alto, Nutley, and South San Francisco). The sooner this is resolved the better.”

Anonymous (Palo Alto, CA)

“The work environment is also easy to operate in. They try to boost morale as much as possible…Until the purchase of Genentech is complete it is hard to throw yourself in work 100%. It has been a great run but we need to know when it is ending.”


Note that one of the Roche Palo Alto reviews above refers to ‘chaos’ at three sites within the company – It could be more musical chairs.  Roche plans to move 150 people in its virology business, 100 in its pharmaceutical development unit and about 30 in its informatics unit – all currently housed at its 1,000-employee Palo Alto campus – to South San Francisco in August or September. Another 180 positions from Palo Alto will move to a Roche facility in New Jersey, and commercial operations in New Jersey will move to South San Francisco. Due to all the shifting away from the Roche Palo Alto facility we see CEO Franz Humer’s approval rating drop 13 points (20%) based on feedback from employees specific to this location. Stay tuned to see how these geographic shifts will effect employee satisfaction, company ratings and CEO approval ratings. And we’ll keep you updated should this bid request by Roche progress.

If you work for Genentech or Roche, let us know what you think.