The Business On... Anne Wojcicki, Chief executive, 23andMe
Friday 12 November 2010
Never heard of her
Perhaps you have heard of her husband, one Sergey Brin, computer scientist, co-founder of Google, billionaire. The pair met when Ms Wojcicki's older sister rented her Silicon Valley garage to two budding entrepreneurs with an idea for a search engine. The rest, as they say...
Daughter of a Stanford professor, biology graduate of Yale, co-founder of a company that wants to bring genetic testing to the masses. The name, 23andMe, refers to the number of pairs of chromosomes we all have.
What's the company doing?
For $500 a pop, it will test a sample of your saliva and tell you what that might mean about your ancestry and diseases you might be prone to.
How's the company doing?
It gets by with a little help from its friends.
By which you mean...?
A lot of its funding comes from Google, or more specifically from Google Ventures, the company's venture capital arm. This week, 23andMe said it had raised an additional $22m, including $3.2m from Google. Of the $44m raised since start-up, $10.2m has been from Google Ventures.
I hope you're not suggesting nepotism
It has all been done by the book, Google says, with Mr Brin recusing himself from investment decisions regarding 23andMe, and other investors taking the lead on negotiating price. "By the book beyond belief," Google chief executive Eric Schmidt once said.
So, can we expect 23andMe to be the Google of genetics?
That is certainly the ambition. The Brins share a view of the genome as a kind of software code for the human body, and of genetic predisposition to disease as a kind of bug in the code. Google has always lived by a mission statement of "arranging the world's information"; 23andMe's is "helping individuals understand their own genetic information".
OK, sir. If you would just spit into this tube...
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