House DNA-testing company 23 andMe is laying off 100 workers, which is around 14 percent of its labor force. The layoffs mainly affect the operations team, according to a CNBC report that was released on Thursday.
The downsizing shows a diminishing market for DNA packages. Illumina, which makes genetic-sequencing technologies and counts 23 andMe among its clients, reported that sales were down throughout the market in an earnings call last summer season. Genome-sequencing company Veritas Genes also nixed its US operation last year and laid off around 50 staff members after struggling to raise capital.
23 andMe CEO Anne Wojcicki informed CNBC that customers may be hesitant to spend for costly genetic tests if they fear economic recession. Wojcicki also suggested that increasing consumer privacy concerns could be a factor for the downturn in sales.
Privacy has been a big concern for genes testing companies like 23 andMe. In 2018, 23 andMe and other endeavors promised not to share data without permission. Advances in data analysis and growing databases have raised consumer concerns over hereditary personal privacy. Last December, the Pentagon advised military members to avoid DNA kits, citing undefined security issues that could risk military missions.
CNBC reports that the company recently employed a brand-new gatekeeper to focus on customer personal privacy, and stated they plan to redirect focus from their “scientific studies arm” to their direct-to-consumer and therapies side of the business.