Anne Wojcicki and Linda Avey joined forces to establish the genetic testing company 23andMe. Was it a good move?
Topic: Partnerships in business
Anne Wojcicki: I would always recommend a partnership because for me it seemed like – when Linda and I first met, we came together and said we have no ego, we really just wanted to make this happen. And we worked at an amazing schedule where I tend to go to bed late, Linda wakes up really early. So we actually worked almost 24/7 for years. And we got an amazing amount of stuff done. And the contacts, I had a tremendously different number of contacts than Linda had and we were really able to, I think, get the kind of marketing reach and the kind of publicity because we came from different worlds, but had such similar ideas. So, it’s perfect. It’s really – to do a start up when you only have five people and you need to make such an impact and especially with genetics, personal genetics, there are so many people to talk to. So, I have to say, I’m really proud of what we did. And it was a lot of fun. We had a really great time. And I’m actually very excited about the idea of working with Linda in the Alzheimer’s initiative that she is taking on because I think it’s the culmination of exactly what we’ve done. We both have personal interests about what we want to do and now, 23andMe has built this platform to do consumer-directed research initiatives and Linda’s executing on that. And Alzheimer’s is going to be her first initiative, she has other diseases that she wants to go after and I think, to me, it’s a great moment the fact that you actually feel comfortable enough to leave and say I’m going to take on my own personal health issues that I really want to work on.
In terms of being two women, I think neither of us really thought about it that much, we both worked in industries where it has been either male-dominated, or a mix. The questions come up and we never really thought about it that much. It’s more that people ask us about it a lot and that there are conferences like the Fortune Most Powerful Woman’s Conference. It’s really fun. But I find that people then end up talking a lot about, what’s it like to be a woman? For me, the biggest change was that there was a line in the bathroom. So, but other than that, it was great when we had more people who were all pregnant at the same time and everyone can commiserate about breast feeding, which I guess is unique, but we never really thought about it that much.
Recorded on September 30, 2009