Blackstone Group Inc announced that it is purchasing the world’s larger DNA services company, Ancestory.com, for $4.7 billion.
Launched in 1996, Ancestory.com analyses its customers' DNA and then uses the findings to learn more about their families’ lineage.
The company became publicly traded in 2009, raising $100 million. In 2012, it went private again, after a $1.3 billion buyout from the private equity firm, Permina. In 2016, two additional firms, Silver Lake and GIG became the majority shareholders, after investing $2.3 billion.
A press release from Ancestory.com says that since its debut in the ’90s, over 80 million family origins have been discovered using its services. Now, the company currently has over 3 million customers in 30 different countries and earns more than $1 billion in annual revenue.
Ancestory.com sells DNA kits, which they use to trace back a person’s family tree, for about $59.00.
Additionally, the company offers a $25 monthly membership for U.S residents, which allows them to do further in-depth research into their ancestors and the lineage of other members, across America. Ancestry.com also offers a world explorer membership, which allows members to research any family history for $50 a month.
With this investment, Blackstone Group Inc will become a 75%, majority shareholder in Ancestory.com. GIG will remain a minority stakeholder in the company. BlackStone Group Inc is the world’s largest alternative asset manager, with $545 billion in assets.
Regarding the ownership of its members' of your DNA and tens of millions of others in their database, a spokesperson at Ancestry.com said that the company "always maintain ownership and control over their own data and that Ancestry doesn't share that data or sell it to others.”
However, some experts are still concerned about the significance of the sale. Erin Murphy, Professor of law at New York University says, "Private equity firms have businesses across industries with a duty to their investors to maximize profits, and the whole idea for collecting a large amount of personal data is to leverage it across different business lines.”
She adds that privacy, regarding DNA, is a great concern because "you can change your credit card information or even your name. You cannot change your DNA."