“If I wanted to make money, I would do something easier. Maybe women are prone to take crazy risks.”
— Anne Wojcicki, co-founder of consumer DNA startup 23andMe. The company’s gene-testing service was named “Invention of the Year” in the new issue of Time. 23andMe beat runners-up such as the Tesla Roadster at No. 2, the Chevy Volt at No. 7, the Speedo LZR Racer (No. 26), high-tech running shoes by Nike and Adidas (No. 43), and Google’s floating data center (No. 47).
Wojcicki and partner Linda Avey started 23andMe with backing from Genentech and Google, which Wojcicki’s husband Sergey Brin co-founded. Sure, these two women had a head-start that your typical entrepreneurs don’t get. Still, it’s clear that they’re not in this risky and controversial business of analyzing DNA just for the money. Pattie’s recent story, “The New Valley Girls” in Fortune‘s Most Powerful Women issue explains how Wojcicki was terribly frustrated by the inadequacy of America’s healthcare system, and it was Brin’s partner, Google co-founder Larry Page, who urged her to do something about it. “He kept saying, ‘If you think there’s a problem, fix it.’,” Wojcicki says. “It was a good kick in the butt.”
For more on Wojcicki and other powerful women of Silicon Valley, check out our interactive graphic that shows how the women are connected and how they made it big in tech. –Jessica Shambora