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Dubroff: Sientra goes for gold by partnering with Lubrizol

By   /   Friday, August 12th, 2016  /   Comments Off on Dubroff: Sientra goes for gold by partnering with Lubrizol

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Henry Dubroff

Henry Dubroff

News from breast implant maker Sientra that it had secured a contract with a unit of lubricants maker Lubrizol to have its silicone breast implants produced in the U.S. sent the stock soaring on Aug. 9.

In an ironic twist on the Rio Olympics, Sientra has been running away from Brazilian manufacturer Silimed after European health officials raised concerns about quality control and a fire destroyed the plant producing Sientra products.

With Lubrizol LifeSciences coming on board, Sientra gains one of the most formidable partners anywhere on the planet — the Ohio-based company is a unit of Warren Buffett’s legendary investment company, Berkshire Hathaway.

Strategically, it’s a brilliant move for the relatively small Goleta-based device maker competing against giants like Johnson & Johnson.

Having the operating arm of the world’s most successful capitalists produce your core products is a great way to show the market you’re in it to win it.

Which got me thinking about the pervasive influence of Berkshire and its top execs on the Tri-Counties. Charlie Munger, Berkshire’s vice chairman, is investing more than $200 million to build seven new dorms at UC Santa Barbara’s campus; a Munger-funded residence for visiting physicists also is being built near Isla Vista.

Mid-American Renewables, a Berkshire subsidiary, owns the 550-megawatt Topaz Solar Farm in San Luis Obispo County. When the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant closes, it will be the largest power generator in the Tri-Counties.
Among Berkshire’s operating units are Sees Candies, a personal favorite, and a region-wide real estate brokerage that’s been consolidated under the Berkshire Hathaway brand. Berkshire’s holdings also include a large stake in Wells Fargo.

After a week that saw its shares top $8 for the first time in months, maybe CEO Jeffrey Nugent and the top brass at Sientra should celebrate by kicking back and enjoying a Coke. After all, it’s yet another of Buffet’s big holdings.

5K and growing

While Sientra was enjoying a nice run in its stock price, next door neighbor Yardi Systems was celebrating the onboarding of its 5,000th employee.

That amounts to tremendous growth over the past year for a company that’s the market leader in providing software to the commercial real estate industry.

During a 5,000 step walk to celebrate the achievement, Kevin Yardi, a company executive and son of founder Anant Yardi, said the company has added 1,000 people in just a year as it remains on track to grow revenue at a 20 percent clip.

Yardi is well past $500 million in revenue and its founder has talked about $1 billion being within reach. Yardi’s head count of 700 in Santa Barbara and Goleta makes it the biggest corporate employer on the South Coast.

The company has been able to retain employees by offering them transfers to Boise, Idaho or Raleigh, N.C., when they want to find more affordable housing and start a family.

Our foxy mascot

When the Business Times adopted a Channel Islands fox as our mascot a year ago, we did not realize that our Santa Barbara Zoo resident was going to be making history.

But there you have it. On Aug. 11, Congresswoman Lois Capps was set to officiate a ceremony to officially delist three island fox subspecies from the Endangered Species Act. The foxes’ recovery is a wonderful victory for conservation and we’re proud of the role that the zoo and many partners have played in making this happen.

• Reach Editor Henry Dubroff at [email protected]

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