writes copy 03 Apr 2018

23andMes Anne Wojcicki and Unitys John Riccitello to join us at Disrupt SF 2018

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Disrupt SF might feel familiar to many of you, but I encourage you to be prepared for a surprise. The world’s most impactful tech startup conference is about to get bigger and better than ever.

We’re moving to Moscone West, doubling attendance capacity, and tripling our programming with a total of four stages across three days. Which means we need the greatest minds in the biz to grace our stage.

That said, I’m pleased to announce that 23andMe’s Anne Wojcicki and Unity’s John Riccitello will be joining us on stage!

Anne Wojcicki

After a decade investing in healthcare, Anne Wojcicki co-founded 23andMe in 2006. The company launched with a primary focus of giving consumers access to their own genetic information, disrupting an industry that Ancestry.com (founded in 1983) had been dominating.

But it wasn’t always smooth sailing for the company. In 2013, the FDA started to intervene with 23andMe after growing concerned that the company might be giving consumers possibly inaccurate information about their genetic health risk. This led to the FDA halting the marketing and sale of 23andMe’s personal genome service.

Regulatory approval, especially from the FDA, is a nightmare for many startups just getting their footing. But Wojcicki made the best of a tough situation and pivoted the company towards drug research and development, while simultaneously working on FDA approval.

Later that year, the company got the green-light to offer 10 carrier tests, including one for Parkinson’s and one for late-onset Alzheimer’s.

Since then, the company has partnered with Pfizer to help with drug research using 23andMe’s genetic data, introduced a therapeutics division, and hired top talent including Genentech’s Richard Sheller.

In 2017, 23andMe raised $250 million led by Sequoia, bringing total funding to $491 million to date. At the time, Wojcicki said that they had only begun to scratch the surface of direct-to-consumer genetics. The company also recently got approval for a new cancer risk test, becoming the first and only direct-to-consumer genetics company to receive FDA authorization to test for cancer risk without a prescription.

There’s more than plenty to discuss with Wojcicki when we get her on stage at Disrupt SF September 5 – September 7 and we’re thrilled to have her as a guest!

John Riccitello

At one point, a gaming engine was just that. A gaming engine. But today’s landscape, complete with a plethora of mobile, console and desktop games as well as the rise of AR/VR puts a gaming engine square in the middle of a brave new world.

John Riccitello’s Unity, a company whose software provides the backbone for more than half of all new mobile games, is poised to be one of the most important technology companies of the next decade, according to DFJ Growth partner Barry Schuler, an investor at the company.

As of mid-2017, Unity’s engine powered more than two-thirds of all content created for AR and VR. Ninety-one percent of applications on emerging AR platforms like the Microsoft HoloLens are created on the engine, while Samsung's Gear VR has about 90 percent of its gaming titles built using Unity.

Alongside the growth of gaming, Unity’s ability to provide infrastructure for spatial computing puts Unity in a position to see other industries line up at its doorstep, from fashion to arts to the enterprise. As these spaces continue to heat up, Unity will be at the center of it all.

With nearly $700 million raised, Riccitello was pretty quiet when asked about the potential of Unity going public as of May 2017. Hopefully, the former EA COO will have more to share on that front on the Disrupt SF stage. But in the case he doesn’t, we have plenty of questions about the future of Unity.

Disrupt SF 2017 runs from September 5 to September 7 at Moscone West. Super early bird tickets are available here.

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