23andMe Lays Off 100 Employees

According to an article by Christina Farr in the CNBC news web site at https://cnb.cx/30Piet9:

23andMe is laying off 100 people, or 14% of its staff, mostly from its operations team, as consumer DNA tests are down.

CEO Anne Wojcicki didn’t have a clear explanation for that, but cited a variety of factors, including both recession fears and privacy concerns.

Wojcicki said she anticipated that DNA testing would explode when she co-founded the business in 2007, but is now looking ahead to a retracting market.

Wojcicki has theories, but she doesn’t have clear proof for why consumers are shying away from getting tests that reveal their percentage of Irish heritage, propensity for a favorite ice cream flavor, or whether they have a limited set of variants that are associated with breast cancer. Either way, she notes, she’s downsizing because it’s “what the market is ready for.”

“This has been slow and painful for us,” she said. She acknowledges that “privacy is top of mind” both for consumers and her executive team.

You can read the full story at: https://cnb.cx/30Piet9.

5 Comments

Privacy! Why folks would want to give private information to a company they don’t know much/anything about, even where the company is located, who the principals are, or where the company holds their records, or what happens to those records if the company is sold or goes under? I understand the pros, and there are many good ones. Finding lost parents. Although that’s both a blessing and a curse. Plus, the recession factor. Don’t believe me, but the professionals believe it’s coming. We’ve seen a marked decrease in contributions to non-profits this year. Marked! Folks are watching their money or spending it elsewhere.

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It is disappointing news but as she states it is what the market is ready for. My concern is not so much privacy but the company closing or selling. I think peoples privacy went out the window after 9/11. If privacy is so much an issue, then I suggest you live off the grid on everything, which is near impossible unless you have survival training. It would be like in that movie “Terminator”. You would have to get off the WWW.

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I believe that much of 23 and Me’s problem is their choice of focus. While many folks want to know their ethnicity and health risks, many also want to work on their family trees. 23 and Me, until recently, has had no real tools to help with “cousin” matching or with tree matching.
They also have had far less advertising to the general populace than Ancestry and My Heritage and they have continued to have their prices for testing much higher than their competitors.
All formulas for poor growth and lost business opportunities.

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I think 23&Me made a mistake when they gave/sold their family trees to MyHeritage leaving no way to compare matches and trees. MyHeritage then charges for their services. Prior to them eliminating their trees, they were the service I always recommended. Now I never suggest them as it’s too hard for beginners to learn anything from their matches. They were only good for their medical information after that, and the govt stepped in and messed that up. Even though medical is back, it’s not the same.

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I think this is a sign that the golden days of family searching and DNA matching are behind us. Access to open archives is shrinking for perceived privacy reasons, and the acceleration of people submitting their DNA is over.

It’s not over yet, but I don’t think it will get better.

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