Several years ago, DNA-testing company 23andMe began publicly trading on Nasdaq following a deal to merge with VG Acquisition Corp., a special-purpose acquisition company founded by billionaire Richard Branson. The company was pimped by Hollywood elites, such as Oprah and Lizzo, as market capitalization topped $6 billion in late 2021.
Fast forward this past week, 23andMe has lost 94% of its market cap following the November 2021 peak, and Nasdaq threatened to delist the penny stock as it closed around 69 cents per share on Friday.
Anne Wojcicki, 23andMe’s chief executive, has led the cash-burning startup that has never turned a profit. After three rounds of layoffs and a subsidiary sale, a Wall Street Journal report said the company “could run out of cash by 2025.”
The inevitable fire sale of 23andMe has raised eyebrows among social media platform X users.
A healthcare investor named Will Manidis asked this question on X: “Within months you will be able to buy genomics data from 14 million americans for +/- $200m?”
Manidis warned in the viral post: “The inevitable fire sale of this mess to an overseas PE firm is going to be a national security matter on the scale of which we haven’t seen in healthcare in years.”
within months you will be able to buy genomics data from 14 million americans for +/- $200m?
the inevitable fire sale of this mess to an overseas PE firm is going to be a national security matter on the scale of which we haven’t seen in healthcare in years pic.twitter.com/6ZggQse0MJ
— Will Manidis (@WillManidis) February 2, 2024
Another X user said: “Can’t wait to see who buys this gigantic pool of genetic data and whatever scheme they come up with to monetize it.”
Which was enough for Elon Musk to respond with a “!”
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 3, 2024
“Or what if the US government buys it?” another X user said.
Or what if the US government buys it?
— Bojan Tunguz (@tunguz) February 2, 2024
And or this?
Anne Wojcicki calls her ex husband Sergey Brin and tells him it’s time for Google to buy 23andme.
Google uses 23andme dataset with DeepMind.
DeepMind is applied to 26 year archive of Google user data.
Google can predict past, present and future online behavior on DNA alone. pic.twitter.com/NFB8nDIQlE
— Somnus Collective (@Somnus_collect) February 2, 2024
A possible fire sale of 23andMe and its stockpile of millions of DNA samples of Americans is something to keep a close eye on.