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New Investments in Ancestry.com to Boost DNA Business

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – New investments in online family history company Ancestry.com should fuel further expansion of its growing AncestryDNA consumer genomics business.

Ancestry.com announced the investments, the amount of which was undisclosed, last week. Under the terms of the deal, Menlo Park, California-based Silver Lake and Singaporean technology investment firm GIC acquired substantial equity stakes in Provo, Utah-based Ancestry.com, bringing the company's total valuation to $2.6 billion, they said.

Silverlake is a new investor, while GIC already held a stake in the firm. Ancestry.com noted that previous investors Permira, Spectrum Equity, GIC, as well as management, continue to own the majority of the company. London-based Permira took Ancestry.com private for $1.6 billion in 2012.

Ken Chahine, executive vice president and general manager of AncestryDNA, said the new investments will support growth in the company's genetic genealogy offering, which enables customers to connect with genetic relatives and discover their ancestral geographic origins.

"It's incredible to think that even with all we've accomplished in just four years at AncestryDNA, Silver Lake and GIC are going to help us move even faster," Chahine told GenomeWeb. According to Chahine, AncestryDNA has accomplished "massive advances in science and technology" and has genotyped 1.5 million people since the service launched in May 2012. "We look forward to bringing even more tools for self-discovery to millions across the globe," he said.

AncestryDNA has strengthened its global outreach lately. In March, the company announced that its autosomal DNA testing service, which relies on Illumina SNP genotyping microarrays, is now available in more than 30 different countries, from Albania to Vatican City. The company last year rolled out AncestryDNA in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, and the UK.

While Chahine did not elaborate on AncestryDNA's future plans, and neither Silver Lake nor GIC provided additional comment, both investors said publicly that they were encouraged by growth in the firm's AncestryDNA business and expected it to continue.

In the company’s fourth quarter earnings call in February, CEO Tim Sullivan noted that roughly a fifth of non-subscribers who purchase AncestryDNA kits are also electing to become full subscribers, giving them access to the company's genealogy tools and records databases.

"While we're really excited about DNA as a standalone profitable proposition, it's also having a meaningful and better-than-anticipated impact on the subscriber business," he said.

The company reported that it generated $683 million in revenues in 2015, the bulk of which — $584 million — was generated by subscription sales. It posted $99 million in "services and other revenue," for the year, much of which was generated by AncestryDNA sales.

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