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23andMe spit kit

A few months ago, on the morning 23andMe Holding Co. was about to go public, Chief Executive Officer Anne Wojcicki received a framed sheet of paper she hadn’t seen in 15 years. As she was preparing to ring in the Nasdaq bell remotely from the courtyard of her company’s Silicon Valley headquarters, Patrick Chung, one of its earliest investors, presented her with the pitch document she’d shown him when she was first asking for money, reproduced on two pieces of paper so she could see both sides. The one-sheet outlined a radical transformation in the field of DNA testing.

Wojcicki’s plan back then was to turn genetics from the rarefied work of high-end labs into mainstream health and quasi entertainment products. First she’d sell tastemakers on her mail-in spit kits as a way to learn sort-of-interesting things about their DNA makeup, such as its likely ancestral origins and the chance it would lead to certain health conditions. Eventually she’d be able to lower prices enough to make the kits broadly accessible, allowing 23andMe to build a database big enough to... see more