NEW YORK – Medical school training taught Mitchell Blutt to conduct thorough research, gather every piece of diagnostic information, study it and then intervene.
It is a practice that any internist would follow, which Dr. Blutt did for years. But as a venture capitalist, such painstaking due diligence led to unsatisfactory results. Potential deals were lost because while Blutt conducted a protracted search for answers, others firms swept in and won the business.
The conflict of Mitchell Blutt the MD and Mitchell Blutt the VC often waged battle in those early days. In medical school one is trained to reduce uncertainty and risk to the lowest possible degree before intervention. Even in cases of acute life and death situations, a medical doctor looks at reducing uncertainty. In the business world, particularly finance and VC, you are trained to make interventions even when there is tremendous risk involved in accordance with the risk/reward curve.
“I was a doctor first,” Blutt said. “It wasn’t like the business side came out, where I said, let’s see how much bang for the buck we can get with this patient.'”
What Blutt often finds ironic is that a doctor whose treatment of a patient ends up in less favorable circumstances is usually not faulted. After all, he did everything he could. Not so in VC, an unsatisfactory outcome on a deal usually means that more could have been done.
Blutt isn’t the first medical doctor to join a VC firm, and he won’t be the last. But few have ever attained a position of such prominence at a major firm like JP Morgan Partners (JPMP), and fewer still were both practicing medicine and toiling in the venture world at the same time for many years.
Blutt, executive partner at JPMP, has always enjoyed a keen interested in both the clinical and business sides of medicine.
In many ways, his career was forged in the early 1980s, when he traveled daily by train from New York to Philadelphia, leaving around 6:25 a.m. each morning and arriving back in New York that night. At the time he worked as an associate at Chemical Venture Partners while serving in the Clinical Scholars Program at Wharton School of Medicine.
“For me, it was a transformational two years,” he said.
After his fellowship ended, he joined Chemical Venture Partners full time. From the summer of 1987 until last year, Blutt continued his internal medicine practice, seeing patients each week. As time went on, and the VC practice evolved, he cut back on his office hours, down to one day a week. Eventually the rigors of business required all his time, and he stopped seeing patients. Still licensed to practice medicine, he satisfies his medical love by continuing to teach. He is an adjunct professor of medicine at Weill Medical College and Graduate School of Medical Sciences of Cornell University
At JPMP, Blutt participates in the general management of the firm, as well as having specific responsibility for overseeing the Life Sciences and Health Care Infrastructure Group, Real Estate, Entertainment and Israeli focus areas.
Blutt might give it all up, the medical profession, the VC life, if he could be playing centerfield for the New York Yankees. A fan of the highest order, Blutt has attended the fantasy camps, ranks Mickey Mantle as one of his favorite historical figures, and still speaks with his parents-“the No. 1 Yankee fans in the world”-after big Yankee victories. There have been many of those in the last several years.
It’s not a stretch to say, not in Blutt’s view, that the 15-partner team at JPMP operates much like the Yankees, in which the team comes first. “We have some of the best individuals in private equity but we work as a team first,” he said. “I don’t want to boast about us. We’re not a dynasty, but we are a great team.”
Blutt is on the board of several companies and proudly serves on the board of the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, along with some heavy hitters from Hollywood.