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Nature And Nurture Image Credit: Forbes
Nature And Nurture Image Credit: Forbes

Nature And Nurture

ANNE WOJCICKI RAISED HER GENETIC TESTING COMPANY, 23ANDME, FROM A WONKY WUNDERKIND THROUGH A TROUBLED ADOLESCENCE. NOW HER $2.5 BILLION BIOTECH MACHINE IS READY TO TAKE THE NEXT STEP, COMBINING BIG DATA AND BIG PHARMA. DECODING THE DNA OF SILICON VALLEY’S MOST PERSONAL CREATION.

Biz Carson And Kathleen Chaykowski

Anne Wojcicki is 45 minutes late, something so encoded in her habits as 23andMe’s CEO that employees have stopped complaining about it. They know it’s hardwired. On a Thursday morning in April, her team is waiting patiently as she swirls into the company’s headquarters wearing running shorts, a T-shirt that says “Yay DNA” and worn tennis shoes, having just pedaled the 5 miles to work while eight months pregnant.

Reflecting Wojcicki’s passions, 23andMe’s headquarters, in Mountain View, California, looks like a cross between a Silicon Valley startup and a fitness club. There are treadmill desks throughout the open-plan offce, elliptical machines in conference rooms and Peloton bikes in the cafeteria, which connects directly to a gym. Wojcicki is still practically bouncing after climbing the four flights to her small glass-walled office, pausing only to fill up her metal water bottle. She makes sure her employees know that their well-being is their own daily choice. “I’m like, ‘I take the stairs and I’m pregnant! You can take the stairs!’ ” Wojcicki says.

Such a workout would be a lot for most expecting moms, but Wojcicki, who’s 45 and has two children with her ex-husband, Google cofounder Sergey Brin, isn’t even breathing hard. And she is still energized about what she refers to as her “first child”: her 13-year-old business, 23andMe. Since its launch, around 10


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