Illumina, maker of DNA sequencing machines, had a small round of layoffs in September

Key Points
  • Illumina, maker of DNA sequencing machines, has laid off 58 people across its California offices. It has more than 8,000 employees.
  • The news follows a disappointing Q2 earnings report and soft sales of direct-to-consumer DNA tests from companies like 23andMe and Ancestry.
A sales consultant with Illumina displays a flow cell at a symposium in La Jolla, California.
Sam Hodgson | Reuters

Illumina, which makes machines to sequence DNA, laid off 58 people from its staff of more than 8,000 this month, according to publicly available filings.

The news follows Illumina shares taking a hit in July when the company slashed its full-year guidance and previewed disappointing second-quarter revenue. In an earnings call, the company noted that it was impacted by weaknesses in the direct-to-consumer market, but did not elaborate further on why sales of genetic tests from companies like 23andMe and Ancestry were down. These companies rely on Illumina's technology to help them turn human DNA samples from biological material into code that a computer can interpret.

The layoffs occurred across the company's San Diego and San Mateo, California offices on September 5th, according to a filing with the state's Employment Development Department. They included a handful of technical writers, as well as scientists and engineering staff, including an artificial intelligence specialist, among other functions. An Illumina spokesperson confirmed the layoffs but declined to comment further.

The company, known for being the first company to break the $1,000 barrier to sequence a human genome, has has more than 100 open jobs listed on its website, including for software engineers, scientists, and human resources staff.

Helix, another company in the consumer genomics space that was backed by Illumina, laid off an undisclosed number of employees and closed several offices in May, according to GenomeWeb.

Illumina, which got its start in the late 1990s, has forged close ties with the Silicon Valley technology sector. Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing, Phil Schiller, sits on its board, and CEO Francis deSouza previously worked at Symantec and Microsoft.

In 2018, the company made its largest acquisition in more than 20 years by picking up Pacific Biosciences for $1.2 billion.

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