23andMe is a biotech focused web startup based in Mountain View, California (yes, the Googleplex neighbourhood) self-defined as “an early stage startup developing tools and producing content to help people make sense of their genetic information. Our goal is to take advantage of new genotyping technologies and help consumers explore their genetics, informed by cutting edge science. Genome deciphering technologies have reached affordable levels, allowing consumer access. For the individual, such information will provide personal insight into ancestry, genealogy and health. For society, the collection of genotypic and phenotypic information on a large scale will provide scientists with novel avenues for research.”
Briefly, they are concentrating on the enormous genomics data we already have to analyze them for customers. They are probably right, because in biotech, genomics could be the first field that has enough results, easy measurement methods (a little blood or biopsies), infotech background and enough commercial demand to make the business profitable within 1-2 years. Unfortunately, regenerative medicine and the stem cells frontier are not in this position yet. The next business step could be monetizing data from proteomics, transcriptomics. With the promising combination of computer science, biology and informatics 23andMe is an early bird of a biotech-based web domain, because there will be times when all your genes, RNAs, peptides (and in my opinion: cells and tissues) will be taken into account by your initiative to know your future prospects, and a web-based service is a proper choice for managing all of your biodata. Security problems will emerge, of course.
The main figure behind 23andMe is Anne Wojcicki, who, according to Reboot “co-founded 23andMe in 2006 to enable individuals to get access to their genetic information. Prior to starting 23andMe, Anne spent 10 years investing in healthcare companies. She graduated with a BS in Biology from Yale and did molecular biology research at the National Institute of Health, Weizmann Institute, and UC San Diego.”
Anne also happens to be the fiancee of Google founder Sergey Brin, but I do not consider this as a fact I’d like to overemphasise here (this is for bloggers at Gawker). Let us just say, that this coming marriage is a good symbol for the perfect combination of high tech’s 2 main branches: infotech and biotech.
To the best of my knowledge 23andMe is the first Valley startup that has job openings with qualifications I met as a geek biotechnologist, so if you’re a biologist with a deep interest in web technologies, I offer you to apply for the Science Writer or Scientific Curator position. I think you’ll be in the right place to participate in an embryonic today – adult tomorrow web business trend.
Have your heard about any other Valley based biotech web startup? Share with us.