Saturday, March 14, 2015

23andMe De-risks with Data, then Gets Into Drug Development

A while back, I wrote that even though 23andMe was hit with its problems with the FDA, the company would be able to run for quite a while with the data it already had in hand.  In 2013, 23andMe had over 400,000 (now, almost 900,000) sets of consumer data from which they could mine interesting bits of information and connect clinical trial sponsors with people (i.e. subjects), or possibly vice versa, and command a tidy stream of revenue from anyone willing to pay.

That was the model then.  I always figured that 23andMe would partner with pharma companies to extract value from their consumer genetic data, but I didn't expect that the company would wade into the drug development space itself. 

With hiring Genentech's Richard Scheller, 23andMe is poised to put together a stellar team with two huge competitive advantages over partnering with pharma that essentially de-risk as a pharma company from the start: 1) Having internal data to launch projects from and 2) having a community of people that seem really willing to help out in clinical trials.