I saw this on Vice.com yesterday, been meaning to share it earlier, but time got away from me – A Private Equity Firm Bought Ancestry, and Its Trove of DNA, for $4.7B: https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/akzyq5/private-equity-firm-blackstone-bought-ancestry-dna-company-for-billions. A lot more in the article, but I highlighted what I considered the important points.
Blackstone, which says it will not have access to people’s data, acquired the genealogy and home DNA testing company from a group of other investment firms.August 7, 2020, 8:00am
The genealogy company Ancestry has been acquired by investment firm Blackstone for $4.7 billion, changing ownership of the company and its trove of user-submitted DNA from a set of investment firms to another private equity firm.
The announcement was made in a press release published earlier this week by Blackstone, which shared it had “reached a definitive agreement to acquire Ancestry from Silver Lake, GIC, Spectrum Equity, Permira, and other equity holders for a total enterprise value of $4.7 billion.”
Ancestry is known for its genealogy and home DNA testing services. According to its website, the company has 3 million paying subscribers, 27 billion records, and 100 million family trees. The website also says that over 18 million people have been DNA tested through the company.
“To be crystal clear, Blackstone will not have access to user data and we are deeply committed to ensuring strong consumer privacy protections at the company,” a spokesperson for Blackstone told Motherboard in an email. “We will not be sharing user DNA and family tree records with our portfolio companies.”
Ultimately, the multi-billion dollar trading of Ancestry between investment companies is another reminder that when you hand over your DNA, you never know who might eventually own it.
As it sounds like Blackstone won’t have access to the DNA information, I am not concerned. The big issue is if Blackstone later decides to sell the DNA or other information to other sources. I would expect Blackstone and Ancestry to make a public announcement if that happens.
The bigger question is what will happen to prices for Ancestry subscriptions and the price of DNA kits? Right now, Ancestry and 23andMe are two of the highest priced DNA kits out there for the basic kits. Both offer sales on a regular enough basis to make them competitive, but when your main competition offers cheaper kits for the same type of kit, it doesn’t help your case.