In Depth





   To most, DNA doesn’t mean much. We might associate it with biology, genetics, or even crime shows. But to the president of 23andMe, Andy Page, DNA is revolutionary. A Mountain View-based genetic testing and analysis company, 23andMe collects and tracks genetic information from customers globally. It’s a symbiotic relationship; clients learn about their lineage and potential health concerns, and 23andMe draws conclusions from
that information.

   Page, father of eighth-grader Olivia Page and junior Caleigh Page joined 23andMe’s board of directors in February of 2012. He became president in May of 2013. But disaster struck six months later when the Federal Drug Administration removed 23andMe’s products from the market.
In a public notice, the FDA argued that 23andMe’s goods could alarm the public with false diagnoses of diseases. However, as of Oct. 21, the FDA reinstated 23andMe’s license to sell products in
American markets.

   “It’s an incredible challenge to manage the daily operations of a start-up that has
a direct to consumer genetics business,
a research services business as well as a [drug discovery/biotech] business,”
Page said.

   Prior to heading 23andMe, Page worked at StubHub and the Gilt Groupe in New York. While he hadn’t worked for any genetics companies, he has the leadership and experience necessary to lead 23andMe.

   “My background is neither genetics nor therapeutics but for 15 years I have been focused on ‘direct to consumer’ companies such as StubHub and Gilt. So while 23andMe was not something I imagined 10 years ago, I did imagine working at a company that educates, entertains and can make a real difference in someone’s life,” Page said.

   With over one million customers,
23andMe has built the world’s largest genetic database. Approximately 80% of those customers participate in research.

   “The mission of 23andMe is to enable people to access, understand and benefit from the human genome. Our product experience engages consumers in their genome: we offer insights into an individual’s ancestry, traits and certain health information,” Page said.

   Since 23andMe is a multifaceted company, it takes a lot of time and effort to lead. Page typically has meetings from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

   “About one third of the meetings are with department heads, one third of the meetings are with groups of people where we are meeting about a certain topic, and the final third is meeting/calls with external investors or partners,” Page said.

   “Spend the first 5-10 years out of college just learning. Experience different companies and if possible in different industries. Build up a reference base of people who you have worked with that will support you as you consider new opportunities that stretch you professionally. Insist on environments that challenge you. Insist on environments that will reward you will more responsibility as you gain experience,” Page said.