Jan 8, 2012 - News

An Update to 23andMe Customers

From 23andMe co-founder and CEO Anne Wojcicki

23andMe Community,

Let me begin by acknowledging that there are many things we could have done better over the years and there are especially things we could have done better with this recent incident involving the changes to our subscription. We admit that we make mistakes. We will continue to make mistakes. I can personally promise you that we will try to listen more and do better. Dedicating resources to our ancestry product and improving our customer service are top priorities for 2012. We hear you loud and clear and we will be making changes.

There has been significant internal confusion about what was promised to our customers at the end of their subscriptions. I understand that to many of you there was no “confusion.” For this, I sincerely apologize. We will always try to live up to what we promise — now and in the future. We want your respect, we want you to be part of our community, and we want you to be part of the fabulous genetic journey before us.

23andMe was built on a passion for genetic research. We believe we are playing an integral part in shaping the future of genetic research and, importantly, making certain the public has unrestricted access to this valuable and potentially life-changing information at a very affordable price. Such ambitions have come with a great deal of resistance. We are committed to the cause. You, the community, have supported us and helped us through these tough times. The one group we never imagined as an adversary is our community members. Sadly, but deservedly, it seems we managed to turn some of our most valuable supporters into adversaries. For this I apologize.

Many have said we’re making changes solely for financial reasons. This is only partially true. The reality is that the external resistance, the ongoing research, and product development are expensive. We’re not “selling out” and we’re not flexible in our mission or values. We will continue to develop the best products out there at an affordable price. But we are not profitable yet and we need to continue to develop our business model. We are in this for the long haul. We will make mistakes again. But we will always try to do the right thing and prove to you that we are worth your hard earned dollars.

We have been searching for a solution that will enable us to make good on our promises to you and also enable 23andMe to continue to move forward with our plans of creating the best health and ancestry experience out there. Going forward:

  • No changes will be made to any accounts until July 31, 2012. If your subscription is set to expire before then, you will continue to receive updates and will not be charged for the additional time. For those who have continued commitments, those will continue. After July 31, 2012, if your account has met it’s commitments, you will have the option of subscribing, buying a Lifetime subscription or canceling your subscription.
  • Over the next six months 23andMe is putting substantial resources into Ancestry. By end of July, we will create an experience for non-subscribing customers as well as subscribing customers. Non-subscribing customers will have access to the health reports, Relative Finder matches and other ancestry tools that existed while they were subscribing. They will not get access to new or updated reports, new or updated relative finder matches or new features. We are acknowledging now that we have plans to improve and iterate on our ancestry features and that the way the data is presented will likely change. The fundamental data should remain accessible but exactly how it looks and in what features it appears, will likely change.
  • Customers will not be removed from the Relative Finder database unless they specifically opt out. The 23andMe team is working on creating an experience where subscribing customers will be able to find relatives among subscribers and non-subscribers (assuming they have not opted out). The exact details are still to be determined. Be assured that we understand that Relative Finder is an extremely important feature and we are working hard to make sure we give you the best possible experience.
  • We will be engaging with leaders from the ancestry community to do our best to create products that meet your needs. CeCe Moore will be leading this initiative with us and we will look to engage many more of you.
  • For customers who purchased a subscription before 12/21/11, you will have the opportunity to upgrade to a Lifetime subscription for $99 for 30 days after you have met your commitment. If you had already completed your commitment by 7/31/12, you will have until 8/30/12 to purchase the Lifetime upgrade for $99. Upgrades to Lifetime subscription are normally $299. A Lifetime subscription will enable you to retain full access to all the data and tools for the life of the v3 product. We have no immediate plans for v4 and we always try to do as much as we can to make all our features work on all our platforms. v2 customers still have the majority of our functionality.
  • For customers who have more than three profiles in one account, we recognize the subscription fees can cause financial pain. We hear the concerns and need more time to find the right solution. We will be talking with CeCe Moore and other active community members to find the right solution for those with more than three profiles.
  • If you originally opted to store your sample with us, and you later cancel your subscription, your stored sample may be discarded.
  • If you choose to cancel, you will be able to download your Raw Data but will not be able to use the Browse Raw Data feature.

The 23andMe team has doubled in size in 2011 and is running full speed making changes, developing new tools and improving the service. Ancestry will be a significant focus for us in 2012. You should expect to see more labs, significant improvements to many of the ancestry services and some new ancestry-related features.

I want to apologize again for the poor communication and the loss of trust. Customers are the core of our business and we will work hard to win you back. We will also work hard to learn from this mistake and make sure we better engage our community in our product development and before we make changes. We are also committing to putting substantial improvements into customer service so we can have an outstanding customer service experience and give you an easy way to communicate with us. We promise 2012 will be an exciting product year.



(23andMe customers may comment  here.)

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