Curetogether & 23andme Together: Alexandra Carmichael Interview
The big news today is that Curetogether was purchased by 23andme. I got Alexandra Carmichael, Co-Founder & CEO of Curetogether to do a quick email Q&A with me about the deal.
Matthew Holt: Given that you’ve been showing at Health 2.0 since 2008 (as has 23andme) we’re claiming this as a big Health 2.0 success story! Tell us why 23andme bought you?
Alexandra Carmichael: Because we are awesome? More seriously our technology and talent will improve 23andMe’s ability to gather data for research while also providing customers with enhanced online community interactions.
Officially, the acquisition underscores 23andMe’s commitment to:
- helping individuals understand their own genetic information through proven DNA analysis technologies and web-based interactive tools
- generating patient-driven, informed-consent research
- empowering our customers to use their personal genetic information to find connections and establish communities based on their DNA
- fluid social web-based platforms
- ability to partner with research entities from advocacy organizations to universities to pharma
Matthew: How will CureTogether’s communities fit in with 23andme’s communities and genomics service?
Alex: CureTogether has gathered 4 million symptom and treatment data points for 590 health conditions. Many of our members have already uploaded their 23andMe data to CureTogether! While CureTogether will continue to operate separately, we are currently figuring out opportunities for integration and we see overlaps and synergies in phenotypic data collection, data analysis, research, and patient empowerment & engagement. If you combine phenotypic and genomic data, there is the potential for great new scientific discoveries. And together we can have a greater impact than each of us alone.
Matthew: Some companies in Health 2.0 are bought as a firesale, some because of their great technology and community data, some because of revenue. It seems from the outside that Curetogether is in the middle category (tech & community data). While I know no terms were announced in the press release, what can you tell us about the transaction?
Alex: Yup, not a firesale. 23andMe’s rationale for the purchase was based on our technology and community data as well as the talent we bring. We’re super excited about the acquisition.
Matthew: What are your & Daniel’s roles going to be at 23andme?
Alex: We are joining the team as Senior Product Managers, me half-time and Daniel full-time. Our backgrounds as genetics researchers, serial entrepreneurs, developers, and community builders should bring a variety of options to the table for how we can help out.
Matthew: Meanwhile you also spend a lot of time working in the Quantified Self movement-which really is what Curetogether was much about. What are you working on there and do you expect to do more of it?
Alex: Yes, I’m still spending half of my work time directing Quantified Self - coordinating meetups and conferences, supporting our 55 groups around the world, putting the blog together, thinking about how to best help people learn more about themselves. And in off hours I help a handful of startups, which is super fun. One I’m pretty actively helping at the moment is quantified-mind.com, an online cognitive testing site that helps you experiment to figure out what makes you smarter.