Layoffs Begin for Illumina & Questions About Grail’s Fate Remain

The layoffs come on the heels of Illumina’s CEO resigning. Could the Grail acquisition be a turning point for the company?

Omar Ford

June 28, 2023

2 Min Read
Image Credit: Oksana Dolgikh via iStock / Getty Images

Fresh off its CEO abruptly resigning, Illumina has begun to eliminate positions as part of a multi-year plan to realign its operating expenses.

The genetic sequencing equipment maker said the layoffs would help reduce annual expenses by more than $100 million this year.

Various media outlets are reporting layoffs could be as high as 10%. The company’s core global workforce is about 10, 200 full-time employees as of Jan. 1, according to a regulatory filing.

June has been a controversial month for the San Diego, CA-based company. For starters, Francis deSouza, who served as Illumina’s CEO since 2016, resigned.

The departure was on the tail end of an intense proxy battle with Carl Ichan, an activist investor pushing to get more board seats and seek the removal of deSouza.

The point of contention and what will perhaps go down in history as a turning point for Illumina, was the acquisition of early cancer detection firm Grail – despite intense scrutiny from the FTC and the European Commission.

Earlier this month, Illumina said that it would file an appeal against the FTC. In the appeal, Illumina argued that FTC "violated due process by depriving Illumina and Grail of a fair proceeding before an impartial tribunal," according to a report from Reuters citing a filing in the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Grail made headlines in the middle of the month when it was revealed the company incorrectly informed 400 people that they might have cancer. Grail noted that the problem wasn’t because of its Galleri test but rather a software configuration issue with its vendor, PWN Health.

This isn’t Illumina’s first rodeo with anti-trust regulators. In late 2019, the FTC challenged Illumina’s $1.2 billion acquisition of PacificBio (PacBio). The deal was first announced in November 2018 and came to a crashing halt in January 2020.

There is irony in the deal between Illumina and Grail. A little more than seven years ago, Illumina spun out Grail. That’s right. Illumina used to own Grail – the very company that anti-trust regulators said it couldn’t acquire.  

About the Author(s)

Omar Ford

Omar Ford is MD+DI's Editor-in-Chief. You can reach him at [email protected].


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