With the launch of its AncestryHealth website, Ancestry continues to play Microsoft to 23andMe’s Apple. It may not be as innovative in the burgeoning field of consumer genetics, but it’s an able competitor nonetheless.
Ancestry entered the field of consumer DNA analysis in 2012 with the launch of AncestryDNA, a $99 spit test that will analyze your DNA for details about your ethnic makeup and connect you with distant relatives. This was five years after 23andMe began to offer similar DNA-testing kits.
Founded in 1983 as a publisher of genealogical data in the form of print books and magazines, Ancestry has kept moving through the ever shifting business landscape of the last 30 years. It launched a website for subscription-based ancestry research in 1996, and it enjoyed a brief period as one of the venture capital darlings of the first dot-com boom. The company, which still makes the bulk of its revenue from its genealogical subscribers, is majority owned by the London-based private equity firm Permira.
In consumer genetics, Ancestry has an advantage over 23andMe in that it already has millions of users’ family trees. AncestryHealth capitalizes on this: the free service will import both family tree data from Ancestry and genetic data from AncestryDNA to create a full picture of family health history.
For consumers, family history is often the first thing doctors ask for to assess health risks, and AncestryHealth is betting that people would rather print out that history from a free website than dredge their memories for half-forgotten details in the five minutes before their doctor’s appointment.
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