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How Does 10x Genomics Handle Product Development?

By Keith Speights - Apr 6, 2021 at 10:02AM

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The genomics leader's process has evolved over time.

The key to success for many companies is how they develop products. That's been true for 10x Genomics (TXG 0.58%) as it's developed platforms for genomics research. In this video recorded on March 11, 2021, Motley Fool CEO and co-founder Tom Gardner talks with 10x Genomics CEO and co-founder Serge Saxonov about how his company's product development process works.

Tom Gardner: I'm wondering how your product development process works, if it's changed since inception of the company or if you came to the table, given your past experiences of the prior organization you were working with your game plan for product development.

Serge Saxonov: Really good question and it goes to the heart of a lot of how we do things at 10x. It definitely was not the case that we came in with a very particular template that we were going to implement when we started the company. In fact, we had to evolve in pretty major ways because the key thing is, the evolution of the company from where you only have one product and one goal to where you scale to multiple products, multiple product lines.

That was actually key in our company's history and transformation at some point. The philosophy that we're pursuing is, there are several things that are really important.

One is having multiple teams that are empowered to move fast and make their own decisions to develop great products. That's what has allowed us to scale as well as we have.

At the same time, we need to have that rigor and checkpoints along the way as you proceed. If you set up initially a team with some inklings of what the vision is for the product, and they start investigating, they start making progress. Then when they need substantially more resources, there's a process where there's a check-in, the higher-level management would have to allocate the resources. You proceed through several of these gates before you get to the actual launch product.

At any given time, you can decide whether you actually have to kill the product or redirect it if it's not working out the way you thought. It's incredibly important for us to have multiple types of people working on every product. These products that we've built are incredibly multidisciplinary.

That's the DNA, the foundation of the company, where people who are experts in computation and biology, that's my background, biochemist, also, my co-founder's background. We have hardware engineers, we have data scientists, biologists. Typically, any given product involves a combination of all those different skill sets working together to build it.

We're also very much driven, ultimately, by biology. What is it the customer ultimately needs, and working backward from that. I think oftentimes in technology companies, you can fall into the trap of being too enamored with your own technology.

In a sense, you start to build the hammer and start looking for nails. We try to really focus very much on what the world needs, and the science, and the biology, and work backward from there and try not to get attached to any particular way of doing things, which also helps us with these M&A discussions thinking, don't get too attached to building things ourselves, realizing that there's others out there that might come up with good ideas.

There's always that fundamental tension we need in, again, between innovation, inventiveness, but also being rigorous, making sure that your products are absolutely rock solid, and work really well, and work every time in the customer's hands. It's been the balance for us because we pride ourselves on inventiveness, but we also pride ourselves on being incredibly rigorous on testing our products and making sure they work really robustly and really well.

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