In a previous article we talked about DNA testing company 23andMe which can tell you all about your genetic makeup through a simple saliva test that you mail in to the company. You can also choose to have 23andMe compare your DNA to the 1 million other people who have taken the same test to see if you’re related to anyone. This “ancestry” component of the test is the most interesting one as it can reveal some very surprising information and instantly expand your extended family. One other company that is competing in this space is AncestryDNA , and they claim to be “The leader in DNA testing for family history“.
AncestryDNA is a service offering provided by Ancestry.com, the world’s largest online family history resource. Ancestry.com was founded in 1983 as Ancestry Publishing, a company focused on publishing genealogical books and magazine titles. In 1996 they launched Ancestry.com and now have 1,300 employees with 2014 revenues of $620 million. Ancestry.com had an IPO in 2009 but was acquired by Pemira funds 3 years later for $1.6 billion. In case providing information on family trees wasn’t lucrative enough already, in the same year, Ancestry.com unveiled their DNA service offering called AncestryDNA.
Similar to the 23andMe ancestry test , the AncestryDNA test will tell you where you fall within 20 worldwide geographical and ethnic categories, including six regions in Europe, five regions in Africa, and Native American.
The AncestryDNA test is sold at a $99 price point, and like 23andMe, has tested around 1,000,000 people. What’s unique about the AncestryDNA test is that you can then leverage the Ancestry.com database which includes millions of family trees and over 15 billion historical records. Even without the DNA test, Ancestry.com provides a wealth of information about where you came from. The 2.2 million members of Ancestry.com have created more than 70 million family trees containing more than 6 billion profiles and 300 million pictures.
These two companies appear to be going head-to-head. Surprisingly, Ancestry.com publishes their financials and their second quarter 2015 revenues were $169.4 million compared to $156.1 million in the second quarter of 2014. If Ancestry.com stays on that same trajectory, this would mean 2015 revenues of $676 million. They also appear to be targeting 23andMe with the below statement taken from their Q2 2015 financial results:
On July 16th the Company announced the beta release of AncestryHealth, a new website aimed at providing consumers with important health insights to help promote wellness, prevent illness, and lead healthier lives. The AncestryHealth initiative is being led by the Company’s newly appointed Chief Health Officer.
If you recall, 23andMe was initially providing health reports until the FDA prevented them from doing so as they did not receive the required approval (Update: As of 2015 23andMe resumed providing FDA approved genetic health tests). It will be interesting to see what direction 23andMe takes given that AncestryDNA seems to have an advantage in “family history” testing with the Ancestry.com complimentary service offering. Given that Google’s Calico decided to collaborate with AncestryDNA on analyzing family history and genetics, it could mean that Ancestry.com has the edge in the genealogy DNA testing market. Doesn’t it make sense though for these two companies to share their DNA test result databases? If they did, the database of potential matches would double for users of either service.
If you’re thinking about taking a DNA test, click here to order the AncestryDNA test for $99. If the notion DNA privacy makes you a bit nervous, you could try out good old genealogy first. Ancestry.com has a 14-day free trial so you find out about your ancestors were without having to hand over your DNA.