Anne Wojcicki, youngest of three daughters, is related to the CEO of YouTube, Susan Wojcicki, and at one point, married to Google co-founder Sergey Bin; she now dates professional baseball player Alex Rodriguez. Wojcicki attended Yale University, graduating in 1996 with a B.S. in biology. After overseeing health care investments as an analyst for four years, she quit from frustration over Wall Street’s attitude towards health care. She later focused on research and co-founded 23andMe which is a privately held personal genomics and biotechnology company.
Named after the 23 pairs of chromosomes in the normal human cell, 23andMe provides genetic testing to any individual willing to pay $199 for over sixty reports in four key areas: carrier status, ancestry, wellness, and traits reports. For example, one could discover toe length ratios, earwax type (yuck!), alcohol flush reaction, cystic fibrosis, etc. By simply ordering the kit, one follows the instructions to provide a saliva test from home, and in twelve weeks, the individual can check his or her reports online—it is that simple. Fortune magazine claims that the first genome sequencing took 13 years and cost $3 billion, merely one decade ago. Wojcicki and her other co-founders, Linda Avey and Paul Cusenza, made it possible for convenient, and low-cost genetic testing. As of June 2015, over 1,000,000 individuals have been genotyped by 23andMe.
More recently, 23andMe has faced criticism regarding the FDA’s approval of 23andMe’s testing kits and processes. If the spit kit is a medical device (which the FDA believes it is), it must be approved for marketing. The FDA also requires approval for medical devices, but the process is slow. For a while, customers of 23andMe were concerned the testing kit was not approved, and stated on its website, “We recognize we have not met the FDA’s expectations…our relationship with the FDA is extremely important to us and we are committed to fully engaging with them to address their concerns.” Despite concerns with the FDA, 23andMe was officially FDA approved in October 2015.
Anne Wojcicki applies her daring and determined attitude to her company and uses her expertise in biology to help individuals learn more about their genetic makeup. Being the youngest of three from a successful family, one can assume she fought to prove her worth (from a young age), and used her wealth of knowledge to help millions of individuals. Fast Company named Wojcicki “The Most Daring CEO,” in 2013, in a time where female CEO’s have gradually become more present and admired for their achievements. Wage disparities between male and females in corporate America is something we all acknowledge, so having a strong female public figure demonstrates that such accomplishments are possible to young female individuals entering the workforce. On the website, 23andMe has personal testimonies of people discovering a Jewish ancestry, discovering one’s birth family, and even discovering food intolerance so a mom can make changes. Though genetic testing is a new area of study and a newer industry as a whole, Wojcicki has changed the lives of so many individuals by informing them of concerning traits, or reassuring them that they have nothing to worry about (in the future). Such characteristics of Wojcicki’s personality and her values are something one dreams of instilling in his or her own company. To me, Anne Wojcicki is the most valuable CEO.