BlackRock doesn’t own 75% of Ancestry

17 May 2022
What was claimed

BlackRock now owns 75% of ancestry.com.

Our verdict

A 75% stake in Ancestry was acquired by a different, though similarly named investment management firm, Blackstone, in 2020.

What was claimed

The owners of Ancestry have access to the DNA collected by the site’s DNA testing service.

Our verdict

Blackstone has said it will not access or share DNA or family tree data from Ancestry.

A Facebook post has claimed that the investment management firm BlackRock owns 75% of the genealogy company Ancestry.

This isn’t true. Ancestry is actually owned by another investment management firm called Blackstone.

Ancestry was acquired back in 2020

We can see where the confusion might come from, but Ancestry was actually bought by a different, though similarly titled investment management firm, called Blackstone, back in 2020.

The deal saw Blackstone acquire the family history website and DNA testing service for around $4.7 billion, representing around a 75% stake in the company, according to multiple reports at the time.

Despite the similarity between their names, Blackstone and BlackRock are two separate asset management companies. 

Blackstone says it manages $915 billion worth of assets, making it much smaller than BlackRock, which, with around $10 trillion in assets under its management, is the largest investment management company in the world.

What are the concerns over DNA?

The size of BlackRock and the number of companies around the world in which it has invested has led to the development of conspiracy theories suggesting that the firm exerts a sinister influence over global affairs, which appears to be what this post is implying when it claims that Ancestry’s new owners—wrongly claimed to be BlackRock—“have a lot of DNA.”

It is true that a major part of Ancestry’s business involves collecting and processing DNA from members of the public looking to learn more about their family history. The company’s website currently claims to have 20 million people “in the world’s largest DNA network.” Following Blackstone’s buyout of the company, concerns were raised about whether the investment firm might be able to access or sell this huge DNA database to other companies.

In 2021, in response to these concerns a Blackstone spokesperson told the LA Times: “Blackstone has not and will not access user DNA and family tree data, and we will not be sharing this data with our other companies… To be crystal clear, doing so was never part of our investment thesis — period.”

There is currently no evidence to suggest that this policy has changed. 

In addition, Ancestry told the newspaper that it “does not sell or share customer DNA data with insurers, employers or third-party marketers.” Its privacy statement states that the company will share genetic information with its research partners only if users provide “informed consent.”

Image courtesy of Brano.

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