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When biotech research company Telomolecular Corporation chose Rod Underhill, author of Complete Idiot’s Guide to MP3: Music on the Internet, as its new general counsel, it wasn’t for his love of music. It was for the business skills and tech savvy Underhill showed at MP3.com, the pioneering digital music download company he cofounded in 1996. As “founding music director,” Underhill, 53, was responsible for detecting copyright violations in shared material and preempting and deflecting litigation. MP3.com’s 1999 IPO was the largest ever for an Internet company, and brought its value close to $7 billion. Underhill was not available to comment. Though Telomolecular competes in a different field, its business strategy is the same: Take a new technology and make it the next big thing. The technology in Telomolecular’s case is intracellular protein delivery. In short, it’s a way to get large molecules through cell membranes to deliver gene therapies. The company has already received FDA approval for some of its products and formed partnerships with other biotech companies to explore vaccination and cosmetic uses. Telomolecular’s CEO cited Underhill’s role in the growth of MP3.com in a recent written statement, and confirmed that Telomolecular is planning for an IPO of its own. Underhill’s experience should help the company gear up for a big market entry, and his versatility couldn’t hurt either.

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