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3 people found this helpful  

23andMe is a fox in a world where hedgehogs succeed.

Anonymous Employee (Current Employee)

Pros* Unique synthesis of Web 2.0, social networking, and genetics.
* Non-traditional, outside-the-box problem-solving.
* Cooperative attitude among employees and in approach to external parties.
* Novel space: personalized medicine.
* Company's efforts have influenced policy and dialogue at an international level.
* Excellent networking connections with key opinion leaders and academic researchers.
* Fun, intelligent co-workers.
* Casual work environment.
* Flexible work schedules.

Cons* The scientists have little or no corporate experience.
* People with corporate experience (management, BD) have little or no biotech/research experience.
* No medical knowledge/experience in company.
* Peer feedback, review process, and career advancement paths unclear.
* Lack of focus in company direction and in how projects connect to company goals.

Advice to Senior Management23andMe's non-traditional approach is a strength in building new and interesting products and in attracting a very savvy group of customers. 23andMe has done a lot for genetics--making a complex topic accessible and fun, bringing genetics to a wide audience, and also influencing important discussions at very high levels.

The non-traditional approach is also a weakness, because the company's lack of corporate biotech experience at nearly all levels of the company has created major blind spots. As a result, 23andMe has stumbled into barriers that a more experienced company would have been aware of and taken the necessary steps to mitigate--which can require major commitments in resources and incorporation into the long-term business plan.

23andMe also made an early choice to pursue several different, non-overlapping goals at once, and although it has achieved some success--excellent content, unique website, novel research platform, recognition in the space--continued growth will start to cause these functions to overlap less and less, potentially creating resource conflict and mission creep in the future.

The lack of biotech and research experience in the executive management and BD teams also creates an attitude of taking research for granted. Biology is hard; finding discoveries that can provide a foundation for profitability is by no means guaranteed. Improving the chance of medically useful discoveries means thoroughly understanding a clinical question and conducting the best research possible--which may directly conflict with making the web service as customer-friendly as possible. But the lack of direct research knowledge and experience has led 23andMe to avoid focusing on specific areas, which means that specific expertise has never been brought on board and that research quality continually compromises with (and is compromised by) the needs of the web-based service.

My advice is to build a company that focuses on doing one thing very well. If that thing is a web portal for genetics content, then set aside the research goal. If that thing is research, then set aside the web portal. If it is a genome-wide diagnostics company, then do whatever it takes to succeed in the increasingly difficult diagnostics world. In terms of both science and profitability, quality scientific research requires a much larger commitment of time, resources, and discipline than management has been able to show thus far. Hiring people with clinical knowledge and with experience at running a successful biotech or molecular diagnostics company will keep 23andMe from having to constantly reinvent the wheel.

No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
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    3 people found this helpful  

    Great employer!

    Software Engineer (Current Employee) Mountain View, CA (US)

    I have been working at 23andMe

    Pros: Exciting project which may lead to somewhere big. The industry is still in it's infancy, but has… Cons: Small group of people, some of whom are eccentric, but who… Advice to Senior Management: Focus on marketing and business development over product. At this point, the customer experience is… Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend More
    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Approves of CEO


    Best environment I've ever worked in

    Anonymous Employee (Current Employee) Mountain View, CA (US)

    I have been working at 23andMe full-time for less than a year

    Pros: No matter what area of the company, colleagues tend to be *highly* talented and capable in what they do. People tend to be almost over-qualified… Cons: Because the organization is so flat, it's been hard for me to make out what a career… Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company… More
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