While planning the next new generation of machines, PE Biosystems' president, Michael W. Hunkapiller, calculated that it would be possible for their own private industry to decode the human genome before the academic consortium could complete it, by using the resources of a single, industrial-scale center, even though it would require starting from scratch. It was a bold prediction, given that the consortium target date set by Dr. Watson back in 1990 had been the forward year of 2005, only seven years away, and with the consortium already half the way to the completion target date.
Also, it meant that Dr. Hunkapiller's idea would require competing against his own customers, to all of whom Applied Biosystems sold its sequencing machines and their chemical reagents. However, he calculated that it would also mean doubling the market for that equipment.
Hunkapiller brought in Dr. J. Craig Venter to direct the project. Tony White, president of the Perkin-Elmer Corporation backed Hunkapiller on the venture. They organized the new company to accomplish the task. In May 1998, Celera Genomics was formed, to rapidly accelerate the human DNA sequencing process. Dr. Venter boldly declared to the media that he would complete the genome decoding by 2001. That bold announcement prompted the academic consortium to accelerate their own deadline by a couple years, to 2003.