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23AndMe Research 8 months 1 week ago #30

  • dsamraj
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Description

23andMe is a DNA testing firm that was founded by Anne Wojcicki, Paul Cusenza, and Linda Avey in 2006. The firm is based in Mountain View, California. Currently Wojcicki serves as CEO of 23andMe. [1]

Technology

The tests require a spit or mouth swab sample to be mailed to the company. A chip is then used to examine the positions where DNA between individuals is different. Each unique position is known as a single nucleotide polymorphism. [2]. There are about 600,000 of these that are compared in a DNA test and can provide information about ancestors, geographical regions of descent and physical traits such as hair color.

Market Performance

The market demand for DNA tests has been volatile. The number of  at-home DNA tests ordered in 2018 was approximately 13M, the total number of tests that had been ordered before that point. That surge in growth dropped in 2019 which saw an industry growth rate of 20% [3]. The Global Genetic Testing market research report predicts a CAGR of 11.85% in the period 2021 – 2028 with a terminal value of $585.81B. [4] However, potential increased standardization efforts and regulation could be a hamper on companies in the space [4].

Competitive Advatage

23andMe’s competitive advantage lies in the fact that it is the only company cleared by the FDA for health tests. [1]

Challenges

However, with that clearance has come greater scrutiny of the company. Particularly, in 23andMe’s cancer tests which doctors argue only looks at a select number of mutations that could lead to cancer and thus deem the tests “misleading.” Another recent development is the potential for these companies to hand over DNA data to the FBI. This raises privacy concerns which could have a detrimental effect on 23andMe’s growth. In terms of competition, 23andMe’s major competitor is Ancestry and the two dominate the American consumer DNA test space [2].  Financially, 23andMe took a hit in 2020 and was forced to lay off 14% of its workers at the start of the year.

Financing

In terms of funding 23AndMe has had 15 funding rounds and has had a cumulative cap raise of $868.6M [5]. As of the beginning of 2020 the company was value at $2.5B [3]. The most recent lead investors are venture capital firms Pegasus Tech Ventures and Sequoia Capital. [5]

Conclusion

23AndMe is at the center of a dynamic gene testing industry that has proved to be volatile over the past few years. It remains to be seen whether the industry will grow rapidly or slow down due to regulations. 23AndMe will be an interesting company to watch this year.

Articles for further reading (and used in part to construct this post)

[1] (Forbes): www.forbes.com/profile/anne-wojcicki/?sh=3d5dddf25b9f
[2] (MITReview): www.technologyreview.com/2019/02/11/1034...-home-ancestry-test/
[3]. (yahoo finance): finance.yahoo.com/news/oncehot-dna-testi...ouble-115817212.html
[4] (PharmiWeb): www.pharmiweb.com/press-release/2021-01-...028-23andme-inc-abbo
[5] (Crunchbase): www.crunchbase.com/organization/23andme/company_financials

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