Even when he was still doing his surgical training at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Daniel Palestrant's friends would pester him for what amounted to stock tips: What did he think of this controversial drug? What about that new medical device?
Palestrant often had answers, thanks to the buzz he was picking up from other doctors. For example, months before it became front-page news and sent Merck's stock into free fall, Palestrant's colleagues were talking about the possibility that Vioxx might be speeding some heart patients to their death.
It was from those impromptu chats in the hospital lounge that Palestrant got the idea for Sermo, an eight-month-old social network for MDs based in Cambridge, Mass.
The company is already pulling in about $500,000 in revenue a month -- in a most unusual fashion. It doesn't get a penny from advertising, job listings, or membership fees. Rather, it makes its money by charging institutional investors for the opportunity to listen in as doctors chat among themselves.