Despite 23andMe's declining revenue, CEO Anne Wojcicki said she's committed to consumer-first healthcare 'entirely outside the system'
23andMeCEO Anne Wojcickireaffirmed her commitment to consumer-first healthcarein a HBR Live event.
- The company's recent SPAC filing demonstrated its plans to further develop its core business: direct-to-consumer genetics.
- "Hands down, I just don't want to be in the system," Wojcicki said of the healthcare industry.
Direct-to-consumer genetics leader 23andMe has seen its revenue decline in the past few years.But founder and CEO Anne Wojcicki indicated no plan to stray from the company's original mission in a recent conversation at HBR Live, a day-long leadership conference held by the
Keeping consumers front and center
Positioning 23andMe's mission-driven approach directly opposite the "move fast, break things" ethos of Silicon Valley, she said the long-term vision of the soon-to-be publicly traded company hasn't changed. Wojcicki pointed to its "healthcare flywheel" concept across both of 23andMe's recent SEC filings, as evidence of putting consumers front-and-center of their business model.Its most financial and investor risk report, as reviewed by Insider, reaffirms Wojcicki's statements, showcasing that the company intends to invest in its core offering of direct-to-consumer genetics health and family ancestry reports, which make up the bulk of its business.
However, the S-4 filing showed that the company's efforts to use its genetic database in drug development, including its high-profile pharma partnership with GSK, stand on shakier ground. More alarmingly, 23andMe's overall revenue has fallen in recent years in line with the overall downturn in the consumer genetics market.Despite changes in regulation over the years and mounting concerns over personal data privacy, she told HBR Live that giving consumers the ability to learn about their genetics and opt into research remains the company's vision for the future. 23andMe differentiates itself from competitors like Ancestry, she said, by focusing on engagement and the ability to be responsive to its users. "I'm engaging you with your whole genome holistically, whether that's the ancestry side, the health side, or your family relationships, and I want to keep you coming back," Wojcicki said. Most companies or academic genetic databases are missing that high level of user engagement, she added.
As detailed in 23andMe's SPAC filing, the company faces significant obstacles in becoming profitable or turning any findings from its 10 million user-strong genetic database into drug or therapeutics.
Later in the HBR Live conversation, Wojcicki remained unconvinced that there are easy fixes within the existing US healthcare system."You can play to follow the code to lead to a slightly better outcome, but like hands down, I just don't want to be in the system," Wojcicki said. "Tell me who makes money if I'm healthy at a hundred, and I will go in that path."
The closest thing at this point is Kaiser Permanente, she said in closing, referring to the 75-year-old health system whose organization structure incentivizes an all-encompassing approach to its members' health outcomes.
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