What Do Slide, 23andMe & Chemdex Share?

Max Levchin, well known for being a co-founder of both Paypal and Slide, as well as for imitating Tom Cruise on “The GigaOM Show,” has just become the first person to get on the cover of magazine Portfolio. The magazine’s editors recently threw a little dinner for him, James Hong (co-founder of HotorNot) and Linda Avey (co-founder of 23andMe), all of whom are featured in this month’s cover story, “Brilliant Then and Now.”

I was seated next to Linda Avey at dinner, and she and I got into a conversation about Internet 1.0 and how things were during the go-go 1990s. She told me she had worked for Chemdex, a chemicals-focused B2B exchange, that I once wrote about for Forbes.com. (I loved this company, mostly because deep down I am a chemistry geek.) Ironically enough, Chemdex was co-founded by David Perry and Jon Callaghan, who happens to be a partner at True Ventures and sits on the board of the parent company of this blog. Small world, ain’t it?

My conversation with Avery then moved to the growing incidence of heart disease among South Asians. Long story short: Above and beyond diet and lifestyle, there is a gene at work, and Avey wants to work with Apollo Hospitals in India to conduct a study aimed at finding out what that gene is. Of course, there are others who are thinking along those lines, including those who helped fix my problems and get me home. So if any of my readers have contacts with Apollo execs and want to help out, please get in touch with me.

23andMe, based in Mountain View, Calif is backed by Google and NEA and is looking to better understand the genetic data that they collect as part of the DNA testing kits they sell. Of course, at $1,000 a test, it’s too expensive to collect large volumes of data; they need to lower the price to what is essentially an iPod-like price point, say $199 for a test that can be given as a casual gift. This would help the company increase its database and find more patterns in the collected genetic codes, which they could perhaps then offer up to big drug companies for research.

Hopefully I will talk more about this when I visit 23andMe later this summer and learn about their plans. Anyway back to my headline: I couldn’t really come up with one that tied it all together.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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