DNAnexus, With Google Ventures and TPG’s Cash, Seeks Edge in $100B Genome Computing Market

10/19/11Follow @xconomy

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to 10 percent, and could eventually reach 50 percent.

Even though Ro quoted one researcher in that report who said there aren’t currently any good commercial software options, Sundquist sees this market exploding in the not-so-distant future. “Ten years from now, we could see everyone in the developed world get sequenced and have it be part of their medical record. What does the market look like when 1 billion people have access to their genome?” Sundquist says. “The data management and analysis is much larger than sequencing itself.”

DNAnexus certainly isn’t the only company striving for a piece of this emerging market. Illumina, the market leader in sequencing instruments, has been making noise lately about following the Apple playbook to come up with a more thoroughly integrated hardware-and-software product offering called MiSeq. Like DNAnexus, this new offering is supported by Amazon’s massive investment in cloud computing infrastructure.

Competition, Sundquist says, isn’t really his biggest worry at the moment. The company, with 25 employees currently, plans to use its new cash to hire more top-notch software engineers, which is no easy thing in the hot Silicon Valley job market. Sundquist has resorted to offering $20,000 bonuses, and a free sequencing of your entire genome, for anyone who refers him a new DNAnexus hire. Having nailed the new funding from Google and TPG—who he calls “the best big data investor and the best life sciences investor”—has helped rustle up a few promising new job applicants, he says. But DNAnexus will need to capture a lot more bright minds if it is going to seize a big chunk of that $100 billion market he sees materializing. Sundquist is betting that he will be able to appeal to certain engineers who want to do more with their lives than just help people share photos and status updates online.

“When you think about big technical data challenges, this is probably the biggest data problem we face over the next 10 years,” Sundquist says. “And when you think about what effect your work can have on society, there are few places with challenges as interesting as this.”

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