23andMe raises $250M led by Sequoia Capital

Steven Loeb · September 12, 2017 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/4a1e

Others in the genomics space that have raised funding include Counsyl, Veritas and Sophia

It's been 17 years since the Human Genome Project, led by Dr. Craig Venter, announced the mapping of the human genome, a breakthrough in science that we still haven't fully cracked the surface of. All these years later, most people probably still don't understand what the human genome even is.

Given that it's something they don't fully understand or can fully grasp, the fact that 23andMe was able to take the concept of DNA testing and make it palatable for the average consumer is kind of amazing. 

On Tuesday the company announced a big new $250 million funding round, bringing its total funding to $491 million. The round was led by Sequoia Capital, along with Euclidean Capital, Altimeter Capital and the Wallenberg Foundation. Current investors joining the round include Fidelity Management & Research Company, lead investor for 23andMe's prior financing round, and Casdin Capital.

23andMe had previously raised nearly $241 million from Google, MPM Capital, Johnson & Johnson Development Corporation, and others. Most recently, the company received a $1.7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). 

TechCrunch is reporting that 23andMe is now valued at $1.75 billion.

Founded in 2006, 23andMe, which sells a DNA analysis kit to consumers, popularized the idea of DNA testing, which involves not only finding out your ancestry but also if you're predisposed to any particular illnesses. The company has not had a totally smooth ride, however.

In late 2013, however, the company was ordered by the Food and Drug Administration to stop selling its kit because it didn't have "marketing clearance or approval." The company complied by rebranding the testing kits and simply including ancestry reports with raw genetic data, minus the health analysis.

In 2015, 23andMe, with FDA approval, reintroduced the kit with health analysis, though with a smaller number of reports.

23andMe says it will use the new funding to accelerate customer growth, continue funding its expanding therapeutics group, and invest in its crowdsourced genetic research platform, already the world's largest interactive database for genetic research. This round will support all arms of its business, including its consumer product, research initiatives, and therapeutics division.

In addition to the new money, it was also announced that Roelof Botha, Partner at Sequoia Capital, has joined the company's Board of Directors, along with Neal Mohan, Chief Product Officer for YouTube and a Senior Vice President at Google, who joined the board in July. 

Companies in the genomics space

23andMe is one of the best known, and now best funded, genomics companies out there, but it is far from the only company in the space, including AncestryDNA, which is likely the second best known genomics company, and 23andMe's largest rival.

Plenty of other genomics companies have sprung up largely in the wake of the success of 23andMe. Here are some that have raised funding. 


Description: "At Editas Medicine, we believe we have entered a new era in genomic medicine as the growth of genomic information in recent years has significantly expanded our understanding of genetically defined diseases. Furthermore, a new technology known as CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) has the potential to achieve accurate, directed changes in DNA and fulfill the promise that started with the sequencing of the human genome – the potential to treat diseases at their source, at the DNA level."

Funding: $210 million before going public in 2016. It is now trading at $19.76 a share. 

Investors: Alexandria Venture, Boris Nikolic, Casdin Capital, Deerfield, EcoR1 Capital, Fidelity Management and Research Company, Flagship Pioneering, GV, Jennison Associates, Juno Therapeutics, Khosla Ventures, Omega Funds, Partners Innovation Fund, Polaris Partners, Third Rock Ventures, T. Rowe Price, Viking Global Investors


Description: "We are a health technology company that offers DNA screening for men, women, and their children. Our philosophy is simple: focus on diseases where advanced knowledge makes a difference in health outcomes."

Funding: $157.8 million

Investors: Andrew Boszhardt, Jr.; Felicis Ventures, Founders Fund, Goldman Sachs, Neuberger Berman Group, Pilot Growth Equity, Raj Sandhu


Description: "Your genome is your complete set of DNA - and it is 6 billion letters long (A, T, C, Gs). Sequencing your whole genome, as opposed to only looking at a small part of your genome, matters because:

  • We can provide you with deeper & truly actionable insights based on your genetics.
  • Whole genome sequence gives a powerful resource for life. Sequence once, get useful insights for life."

Funding: $42 million

Investors: Jiangsu Simcere Pharmaceutical, Lilly Asia Ventures, Trustbridge Partners


Description: "SOPHiA GENETICS is a health tech company which has developed SOPHiA Artificial Intelligence, the universal and innovative technology for genomics research. By facilitating the rapid adoption of genomic testing worldwide, turning data into actionable insights and facilitating knowledge sharing, we are democratizing Data-Driven Medicine."

Funding: $28.75 million

Investors: Endeavour Vision, Invoke Capital Partners, Marc Coucke, Swisscom Ventures


Description: "Color is a health service that helps you understand your genetic risk for common hereditary cancers and hereditary high cholesterol, and use this knowledge to create a personalized healthcare plan."

Funding: $150.55 million

Investors: Aaron Levie, AME Cloud Ventures, #Angels, Ben Davenport, Brainchild Holdings, Caffeinated Capital, CRV, Drew Houston, Emerson Collective, Formation 8, General Catalyst, Julia Hartz, Katie Stanton, Khosla Ventures, Laurene Powell Jobs, Lee Linden, Mariam Naficy, Max Levchin, Padmasree Warrior, Raymond Tonsing, Ruchi Sanghvi



Description: "It’s our hope that by unlocking more genetic data (around 22,000 genes), every person will be able to make more informed choices and decisions about their health, fitness, nutrition, and more. And that’s why we’re creating the only destination where you can explore products developed by our high-quality partners and personalized by your DNA. From search and discovery to sequencing and storing your DNA, we’re here to guide you throughout your DNA discovery."

Funding: $100 million

Investors: Illumina, LaunchCapital, Mayo Clinic Ventures, Sutter Hill Ventures, Warburg Pincus



Description: "Geneticure is a pharmacogentic testing company dedicated to achieving the decades-long promise of personalized medicine. We are focusing on helping healthcare providers get the unique genetic information they need to determine the right course of treatment for patients suffering from hypertension.

Our actionable insights are based on pharmacogenetics which is the the study of genetic differences in metabolic pathways which can that affect an individual’s response to drugs."

Funding: $865,000

Investors: Undisclosed


Description: "Advances in the genetics, pathology and cell biology underlying chronic neurodegenerative disease have identified pathways that trigger neurodegeneration and contribute to disease onset and progression. Denali is applying deep scientific and drug development expertise to fully harvest the potential of these pathways in order to discover effective molecular therapeutics."

Funding: $347 million

Investors: Alaska Permanent Fund, ARCH Venture Partners, Baillie Gifford, Flagship Pioneering, F-Prime Capital Partners


Description: MyoKardia is pioneering a precision medicine approach to discover, develop and commercialize targeted therapies for the treatment of serious and neglected rare cardiovascular diseases. Our initial focus is on the treatment of heritable cardiomyopathies, a group of rare, genetically-driven forms of heart failure that result from biomechanical defects in cardiac muscle contraction."

Funding: $98 million before going public in 2015. It is now trading 

Investors: BridgeBio, Casdin Capital, Cormorant Asset Management, Cowen Group, Perceptive Life Sciences, Sanofi, Third Rock Ventures 

(Image source: flickr.com)

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23andMe is a web-based service that helps you read and understand your DNA. After providing a saliva sample using an at-home kit, you can use our interactive tools to shed new light on your distant ancestors, your close family and most of all, yourself.

Craig Venter

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J. Craig Venter, Ph.D., is regarded as one of the leading scientists of the 21st century for his numerous invaluable contributions to genomic research.