Why it matters: Genealogy specialist Ancestry this week announced it would be laying off six percent of its workforce in order to better position itself to cope with “marketplace realities.” It’s yet another sign that the industry has indeed hit a rough patch and that consumer trust isn’t rock solid.
The cut will affect roughly 100 people according to CNBC.
Ancestry president and CEO Margo Georgiadis said in announcing the layoffs that over the last 18 months, they have seen a slowdown in consumer demand across the entire DNA space. “The DNA market is at an inflection point now that most early adopters have entered the category,” she said.
Georgiadis added that further growth will require a continued focus on building consumer trust and turning out new, innovative offerings that deliver even greater value to users.
Georgiadis’ analysis of the market is dead on. Just two weeks ago, rival DNA testing firm 23andMe also let go around 100 employees, or roughly 14 percent of its workforce. Co-founder and CEO Anne Wojcicki said the move was spurred by declining sales. And last summer, DNA sequencing machine maker Illumina said the industry as a whole was experiencing a downturn.
Much of the slowdown is related to consumer concern over privacy. Law enforcement has increasingly been turning to genomics sites to help catch criminals that have slipped through the cracks. Even the US government is reportedly suggesting that military members not use such services due to privacy concerns.
Looking ahead, Ancestry said it will sharpen its focus and investment in its core family history business and has committed long-term to its health arm. The company also touched on privacy, pledging to continue to build a brand that consumers can trust through transparency.
Masthead credit: Ancestry sign by Sundry Photography. Old photos by Megan Brady.