23andMe, the company that deciphers consumers’ genomes for them, has raised $11 million of an anticipated $24.26 million second round of capital. The company was cofounded by Anne Wojcicki, wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin.
The firm didn’t disclose its recent investors, but peHub noted this morning that venture capital firm Mohr Davidow Ventures has just divested from the company. While MDV first acquired shares in 23andMe, it sold them back to the company 18 months ago after deciding to back competitor Navigenics instead, avoiding a potential conflict of interest. It declined to provide further details on why it chose one company over the other. “I can’t give the specifics of the financial negotiations, but suffice to say that MDV’s financial and management interests were best served by our investment and position in Navigenics,” Pamela Mahoney, a partner at the firm, told VentureBeat.
23andMe and Navigenics provide roughly the same information, but operate somewhat differently. Consumers interested in knowing more about their genetics can order a kit off of 23andMe’s web site for $399. After spitting in a test tube and mailing it back to the lab, they can view comprehensive information about their genes, disease predispositions and other information via a secure web site. Results take about six to eight weeks to generate. Navigenics, on the other hand, offers two different packages. The first, for $2,500, provides results of a series of tests for a list of specific health conditions (also based on a sample of saliva). It also covers genetic counseling to help clients understand and take action based on their results. The second package, for $499, provides results of tests and counseling for only 10 common conditions.
Based on this breakdown, it seems that 23andMe is not only more affordable, but also supplies its clients with more holistic information. Navigenics appears to place more emphasis on the medical steps to be taken after the genetic data is delivered — but it’s questionable how many people will actually require or want counseling or diagnostic services after receiving their reports. It’s unclear why MDV, which specializes partially in personalized medicine, has anointed Navigenics the better bet, but maybe it has something new in store.
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