Layoffs Confirmed At 23andMe

Personal genomics startup 23andMe has just gone through a round of layoffs, we’ve confirmed. The company declined to comment on how many people were laid off, but offered this statement:

We have reduced our staffing levels in a restructuring of our workforce. This was a very difficult decision, but one that we felt was necessary to achieve 23andMe’s long-term business development goals and maintain our strength in the industry.

These cuts, which are a reflection of the current economic environment all companies are facing, will allow us to continue to invest in the growth of our Personal Genome Service and research endeavors.

23andMe was founded by Linda Avey and Anne Wojcicki back in 2006. Investors include biotech powerhouse Genentech, as well as New Enterprise Associates. The company also has close ties to Google — Sergey Brin (who is Wojciki’s husband) has loaned 23andMe $10 million, and Google also has a stake in the company.

Avey left the company in early September to start a new foundation dedicated to Alzheimer’s research.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll said it again: there’s little doubt in my mind that personal genomics will be a booming industry in the relatively near future, though it may be five years or a decade before this testing really catches on. The concept is still quite foreign to most people, and while there can be some benefits to this kind of testing (such as learning your risk factor for certain diseases), the science is still very much in its infancy.