Anne Wojcicki appeared as a guest judge in Season 11 of reality TV show, Shark Tank. As co-founder and CEO of 23and Me, the first direct-to-consumer genetic testing company, she has honed her entrepreneurial skills and savvy over the years, and is now a known angel investor for many budding companies in the seed stage.
To date, she is known to have made personal investments in 37 organizations, the most recent being on Bristle’s seed round in July 2022, where the company raised $3 million. Apart from her executive leadership roles in 23andMe, Anne is also the co-founder for The Brin Wojcicki Foundation.
A Calling for Science
“I always loved science,” shared Anne in her profile video for Shark Tank. That’s why it almost came naturally for her to pursue something related to it for school. She attended Yale University for college, and earned a degree in Biology.
Instead of working in laboratories or going to med school after college, however, she instead found herself a job in Wall Street. There, she learned how to invest in healthcare companies, and thus expanded her understanding of how healthcare works.
Filling the Gap
According to Anne, she realized there was a gap in the market for a more customer-accessible genomic testing service when she saw companies investing so much in disease treatment, but not prevention.
The timing of it all was crucial too. When she started working in the 1990s, the human genome sequence had only been recently discovered, sparking this unprecedented ”incredible enthusiasm about the potential of biotech in curing diseases,” she said.
Because the system, as it was set up, inherently limited an individual’s ability to truly advocate for their health, Anne, along with American biologist Linday Avey and Paul Cusenza, co-founded 23andMe in 2006. Their goal: to empower individuals in advocating for their health by giving them the information they need about their genetics and family medical history directly–and without needing a doctor to require the genetic test.
They found an early ally in Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, earning 23andMe several million dollars’ worth of investment in 2007. In 2008, their direct-to-consumer genetic test kit was hailed as Invention of the Year by Time Magazine.
Long Road to Success
Creating 23andMe would have been definitely tough, especially given its pioneering status. With no other blueprint to follow, they were left entirely to their own devices to navigate their way through this new frontier and model in modern healthcare.
Obstacles included being ordered in 2013, by no less than the US Food and Drug Administration, to cease their marketing and sales of tests until they could absolutely prove accuracy, and that the patients will be able to understand their results without a doctor by their side.
Five years later, in 2018, 23andMe finally became the first company to get the approval to inform women about their potential risk for breast cancer, based on three gene mutations identified from their test kit.
Anne Wojcicki’s Net Worth
Today, at 49, Anne ranks 87th in Forbes’ list of America’s Self-Made Women in 2022. Her net worth is valued at around $300 million, although on paper, she is a billionaire. This is thanks to 23andMe going public last year in a $3.5 billion SPAC upon merging with Virgin Group’s Richard Branson.
Guest Shark on Shark Tank
In 2019, Anne was invited to sit as guest judge for Season 11 of Shark Tank. Among the investment pitches she sat down for included Unbuckle Me, an ergonomically designed buckle release tool that makes unbuckling a child’s car seat 50% easier. Ann offered a royalty deal but ultimately lost out to the other Shark investors.
She was also in the pitch for Unreal Deli, a plant-based food company, but did not make an offer. Another proposal that she dropped out of was for Outer’s weather-proof outdoor furniture business, saying that she didn’t believe it was anything “world-changing.”
One of the most memorable proposals they had, however, was from a Pennsylvania-based stem cell technology firm, specially dedicated for pets. Gallant has developed a stem cell service that would be easily accessible to the public through their website.
By subscribing to their service, pet owners can preserve their pet’s healthy stem cell upon spaying or neutering them, the schedule of which can be determined by the pet owner. Meanwhile, the kit will automatically be sent to the pet’s veterinarian, and they’ll do all the necessary legwork from there.
This means that the pet owners only really need to do three simple things: sign up for the service, bring their pets to the vet, and enjoy a fun-filled, loving life with their pets until such time that they may require medical attention for age-related illnesses, using stem cell treatment.
As expected, Anne was keen and sharp about the specifics of the company, especially the expenses she saw to be “hemorrhaging” the company. Having pioneered a similar direct-to-consumer healthcare service with 23andMe, Anne knew to anticipate the pitfalls that Gallant will face sooner rather than later.
Because of Anne’s hesitation and “nervousness” about the circumstances surrounding Gallant, Daymond John dropped out of the negotiations.
Gallant, represented by Aaron Hirschborn, was initially hoping for either one of two offers: $500k for 2% stake plus additional 2% in options, or 500k for 1% stake on top of $10 royalty for each unit sold.
Anne and Lori teamed up to offer 500k with 8% stake, which Hirschborn countered with 4%. Anne and Lori renegotiated to up his offer to 5% and from there, a deal was made!
Bright Future Ahead
Anne’s guesting in Shark Tank as a judge only further highlighted her business savvy and expertise in the field of healthcare and technology development in the industry. And with the recent merger and public offering of her company, there can only be more good things to look forward to for Anne Wojcicki.