CNBC has an article by Christina Farr looking at the recent layoffs at consumer genomics firms 23andMe and Ancestry.com: “Consumer DNA testing is a bust: Here’s how companies like Ancestry and 23andMe can survive”.
Both companies have cited a slump in new customers as the reason for laying off large numbers of employees. The business analysts cited in the article suggest that the press surrounding the capture of the Golden State Killer and increasing concerns about genetic privacy are important to the decline:
Privacy concerns are at the forefront, Barry believes. Consumers have seen a slew of reports in the past few years about how companies are using their personal data for targeted advertising, without their knowledge, and might be feeling particularly sensitive about their health information.
23andMe CEO Anne Wojcicki has previously referred to these concerns as the “Facebook effect.” In her view, consumers are increasingly freaked out about stories they’re reading in the press about privacy, mostly about Facebook and other technology companies, and are reacting by feeling anxious about getting DNA tests.
The CNBC article suggests that both companies might pivot away from genealogy and toward medical and health-related information might help. I’m skeptical that such a move would provide much additional impetus for a broader number of people to pursue genotyping.