In 2015, Brent Saunders was the CEO of Actavis, acquired Allergan for $67 billion, and was named our first-ever Uber ELITE Award recipient. Since then, he led Allergan through its acquisition by AbbVie for $63 billion and joined the Board of Directors at both Cisco (in 2017) and BridgeBio (in 2020). But now, he is once again making moves in the aesthetics space with something a little different.
PM360: Your most recent venture has been launching Vesper Healthcare, a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), which you used to raise the funds to purchase HydraFacial in a $1.1 billion deal. What made want to pursue this opportunity?
Brent Saunders: I recently sold Allergan and was looking for something both intellectually stimulating and exciting. I started to think about areas where I could create value, and the idea came to me for this new category I would call “beauty health.” It’s neither aesthetics nor healthcare, but fits between the two. Basically, we were looking at things that would be delivered by aestheticians, but could be done in a medical or day spa or even at a retail store such as Sephora, which is now a partner of ours. Then I started to look at the best strategy to go about capital formation, and a SPAC seemed like the most efficient way. Now following the acquisition, we are near completion of de-SPACing, which means Vesper will essentially become HydraFacial.
What are your plans for the company?
I will serve as Chairman, and the current CEO will remain in place. We view HydraFacial as the leading technology in the facial category. Currently, it’s offered in 15,000 locations around the world, and pre-pandemic was showing a topline growth rate of over 50%. My role is to support the management team’s plan for growth, which consists of making more systems available in both the U.S. and around the world; continuing to innovate and drive new products into the market, which can include at-home or professional technologies; and looking for additional products that could further leverage our distribution model.
What makes HydraFacial unique?
We’re the most approachable thing in aesthetics, with an average cost of roughly $150 versus other aesthetic treatments that can be thousands of dollars. Plus, there is no downtime. Our tagline is, “it’s 30 minutes to the best skin of your life.” A lot of beauty products are just marketing, but this combines the best of beauty and healthcare.
Are you passionate about any other areas in healthcare?
I’m trying to understand the science of aging and where that’s going. Ten years ago, it was pretty rudimentary. But today, some amazingly talented scientists are studying the biology of aging and what happens to your cells. We’re still in the early stages, but in a few years I expect to see real treatments that could help with the attributes of aging. I also feel I have more passion now to be part of the larger ecosystem of healthcare, beauty, and biopharma than I did 10 years ago. I’m highly energized and excited about the future.