Friday, September 19, 2014

Precarious Balance 

The DNA testing company, 23andMe, is in a precarious position with its customers.  Some want to know everything about their background, including finding lost relatives and siblings.  Others don't.  They want to keep embarrassing episodes of family history buried and lost in mists of time.  After one customer discovered he had an illegitimate sibling, the news caused his parents to divorce.  23andMe put brakes on its pending decision to automatically tell clients who their immediate relatives are.  This decision didn't sit well with those who are eager to find out and fill out genealogies.  So by making one set of customers happy, the company ticked off another set.  There is no good answer for 23andMe to pursue, and there never will be.  Its service reveals the past in ways that are difficult to argue with. The company's decision to remain conservative in letting people know their immediate relations is probably right for now, but is it true for the future?  That is unclear.  The only solution for 23andMe is to monitor customer feelings from this point on and to be ready to change from one position to the other.


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