Thursday, May 3, 2012 Buys GeneTree (Another Competitor) and Launches Their New Autosomal DNA Product to Subscribers

I had suspected for some time that had acquired GeneTree, especially since GeneTree stopped taking orders a couple of weeks ago and some key personnel had moved on to other projects. GeneTree now has this announcement on their website (misspelling theirs):

Great News!

We are pleased to announce that DNA has acquired GeneTree and the DNA related assets from the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation. We are excited to work with DNA and continue to advance the field of genetic genealogy. More information to come.

AncestryDNA is being offered only to's 1.87 million current subscribers for $99. The best news of the day is contained in the press release which quotes a Harris Interactive study (of over 5,000 people) that found 56% of Americans surveyed were interested in taking a DNA test for genealogy!'s official statement stops short of announcing the acquisition of GeneTree, stating, "In March, DNA, LLC acquired access to an extensive collection of DNA assets from Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation, a non-profit organization." In doing so, they also acquired the former Director of Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (SMGF) and President of GeneTree, Scott Woodward, who is AncestryDNA's new Executive Director of "Genome Discovery". This statement begs the question, How do you "acquire access" to a non-profit organization's most important assets, including their Director without essentially buying it, and if they bought it, why don't they just say so? As a consumer, I don't know all the legalities involved, but GeneTree, the for-profit arm of SMGF, clearly states on their website that they were acquired. Doesn't that mean that they, as a company, were bought? Could it be that is wary of announcing another acquisition of a competitor so soon after that of (announced on 4/25/12)?

[Update - I have been informed that it is a legal distinction and one cannot "buy" a foundation, but my question is still this: We are pleased to announce that DNA has acquired GeneTree and the DNA related assets from the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation.  (bolding mine) Aren't the "DNA related assets" pretty much everything when according to their website, "The Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to building the world's foremost collection of DNA and corresponding genealogical information"? What is the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation going to do now?]

Subscribers can get more info on the test here. (I don't see a link to purchase it yet.) Note that the test appears to still be in Beta.

Here is the announcement: Launches New AncestryDNA Service: The Next Generation of DNA Science Poised to Enrich Family History Research
Affordable DNA Test Combines Depth of Family History Database With an Extensive Collection of DNA Samples to Open New Doors to Family Discovery
PROVO, Utah, May 3, 2012 (GlobeNewswire via COMTEX) -- ACOM -2.98% , today announced the launch of its highly anticipated AncestryDNA(TM) service, a new affordable DNA test that enables purchasers of the DNA test and subscribers of to combine new state-of-the-art DNA science with the world's largest online family history resource and a broad global database of DNA samples.
The new DNA test analyzes a person's genome at over 700,000 marker locations, cross referencing an extensive worldwide DNA database with the aim of providing exciting insights into their ethnic backgrounds and helping them find distant cousins who may hold the keys to exciting family history discoveries. By combining these genetic matches with's 34 million family trees and 9 billion records, AncestryDNA intends to provide a differentiated experience that helps find common ancestors dating back as far as the middle 18th Century.
"We've worked hard at for more than a year building, testing, and reinventing our approach to genetic genealogy," said Tim Sullivan, President and Chief Executive Officer of "We think AncestryDNA has created a unique and engaging experience that will provide existing subscribers with an entirely new way to make amazing discoveries about their family history. We are excited to be making AncestryDNA available to loyal subscribers first…but we look forward to eventually opening up this service to everyone. We think it will allow us to extend our mission to help people discover, preserve, and share their family history to an even greater audience."
AncestryDNA helps determine geographic and ethnic origins by comparing test-takers' unique DNA signatures to the DNA of people from across the globe -- drawn from the preeminent collection of DNA samples assembled by the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation. The current version of the test includes 22 worldwide geographical and ethnic categories, including six regions in Europe, five regions in Africa, and Native American.
"We think the newest DNA technology will dramatically change family history research. For the experienced genealogist it will help break down brick walls and for the casual family historian it will make it easier than ever to get started," said Ken Chahine, Ph.D., J.D. Senior Vice President and General Manager of DNA, LLC. "While the science is cutting edge, the new online experience is simpler and more intuitive than ever before. We've already had overwhelming response and positive feedback from beta users as they discover relatives and uncover the treasures their ancestors passed down through DNA. DNA picks up where the paper trail leaves off. Genomic science can extend family history research into parts of the world where few paper records are available."
Interest in exploring family history is rising quickly, especially on the scientific front, and that interest extends all the way back to the "old country," wherever it may be. In fact, 56 percent of Americans recently surveyed by Harris Interactive are interested in taking a DNA genealogy test, up from 42 percent less than a year ago*. What's more, people's family history interests reach back beyond arrival in America -- nearly two in three respondents told Harris that learning about pre-U.S. family members is one of the most important benefits of researching family history.
Pricing and Availability
Due to very strong early interest and demand, AncestryDNA will initially be made available by invitation-only to subscribers for $99, with the expectation that the service will be made available to the general public later this year. To learn more about AncestryDNA, or to sign up to be notified once it's available, please visit .
In preparing to bring AncestryDNA to market with the best science and a broad set of research assets, AncestryDNA has organized a distinguished and independent Science Advisory Board and has also acquired access to DNA samples, many of which had been assembled by the non-profit Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation. AncestryDNA will be offered through DNA, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of
Science Advisory Board
With the continued focus on developing a solid DNA platform that stays ahead of the genetic genealogy trends, AncestryDNA has assembled a well-respected Scientific Advisory Board that can advise the company on best practices in the emerging field of DNA and genomic testing. The board consists of:
Carlos D. Bustamante, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Genetics at Stanford University School of Medicine
Mark J. Daly, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Medicine Harvard Medical SchoolCenter for Human Genetics
John Novembre, Ph.D., Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Los Angeles
Jeffrey R. Botkin, M.D., M.P.H., Professor of Pediatrics and Medical Ethics, Associate Vice President for Research, University of Utah
Philip Awadalla, Ph.D., Director of the CARTaGENE BioBank, Saint Justine Hospital, Montreal, Canada
Addition of DNA Assets from the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation
In March, DNA, LLC acquired access to an extensive collection of DNA assets from Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation, a non-profit organization. Founded by molecular genealogy pioneer, James LeVoy Sorenson, this organization has been dedicated to building the world's foremost collection of DNA samples and corresponding genealogical information. Over the last 12 years, the Sorenson Foundation collected a one-of-a-kind DNA database of tens of thousands of DNA samples with documented family histories in more than 100 countries on six continents. This DNA database gives AncestryDNA test-takers an expanded family history genetic resource, and should enable new levels of discovery about people's family backgrounds.
Jim Sorensen, President of Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation, added, "We are pleased to bring this far reaching, unique DNA collection to AncestryDNA. My father, James L. Sorenson, envisioned creating a genetic map of the peoples of the world that shows relationships shared by the entire human family and with the shared vision and resources of AncestryDNA his legacy will greatly expand. We are confident in the capabilities and dedication of the team to realize the potential of genetic genealogy faster than anyone else in the field. We see this as a great benefit to consumers as well as the scientific community by combining some of the best science with the leader in family history." 

Jim Sorensen (shouldn't it be "Sorenson"? maybe the vowel change is like one of those father to son Y-chromosome mutational events that we see every so often) says above that his father "envisioned creating a genetic map of the peoples of the world that shows relationships shared by the entire human family".  I think that is what all of us serious genetic genealogists are hoping for the future of our avocation, but how will help us to reach this goal when they don't even provide the underlying genetic data to their customers? If we do not know which segments of our DNA match our cousins, how will we know which segments to map to our shared ancestors or even which segments are identified as originating from specific areas of the world, the exact information which is necessary to create this "genetic map"?

**I have written in detail about this new test here.**


  1. becoming the Standard Oil of Genealogy.

  2. I was hoping for Ancestry to give me a bigger bang for the bucks, but looks like still the best deal!

    If they are using the same CHIP and company for testing as 23andMe, why are they only comparing a little over 700,000 SNP's?

    23andMe members who had the V2 chip only test have 576,000 SNPs to compare, members who had the V3 chip only test have 967,000 SNPs, and members who had both V2 with the "V3 Upgrade" have the most of 996,000 SNPs!

    According to a BETA tester, so far the NEW Ancestry Autosomal test does not show segment size or allow raw data downloads?

    The Integration put into the Family Tree is the only thing that has me thinking about this and I have yet to see it!

    1. 23andMe uses the same Omni Express Genotyping base chip with 700k SNPs, but adds ~300k custom SNPS to it:

      No, they do not show any useful genetic info, therefore triangulation or chromosome mapping is impossible with their test.

  3. Many people donated a DNA sample and gave genealogical to SMGF on the understanding that it was a non-profit and that they would not get a personal DNA analysis back. What are the ethics of SMGF now selling that information to Ancestry, a for profit organization?

    1. I wonder the same thing JDR. I guess its sort of like Ancestry buying Rootsweb and selling all of the genealogical information.

  4. The acquisition by Ancestry could be a good thing. I have used the SMGF database for free and found some good information about my genetic genealogy. I had heard that SMGF /Genetree was suffering from lack of ongoing funds. The down side would be that Ancestry may convert the database into one of their pay for service features. My cousin sent a sample to Genetree two months ago and he is still waiting for results. I hope these concerns will be addressed soon.

    Thanks for posting the announcement.

    1. Yes, it could, Rootstechie. I'm sure Ancestry will deliver those GeneTree results eventually since GeneTree did not BK. Thank YOU!

  5. I was one of the ones who received the AncestryDNA email this morning, and when I was looking at the list of their "DNA Dream Team" I didnt come to the obvious conclusion they had acquired GeneTree (should have coffee before checking emails clearly). I didnt see this one coming either., Rootsweb, Footnote, and now GeneTree? Wow! The $99 price appeals to me, the link to the online trees appeals to me, and frankly, anything to get more DNA testers but the no raw data downloads and no segment matching is no good.....

  6. When I got their e-mail this morning I thought they were two months behind MyHeritage and their partnership with FamilyTreeDna. The competition for leadership in this field is really heating up!

    1. It certainly is, Smadar. This should be good for the advancement of genetic genealogy.

  7. I'd love to get a look at the SGMF Bylaws.
    Anybody got a link?

  8. When I signed in, got this:

    Congrats! Keep an eye on your inbox for your exclusive invitation to order AncestryDNA.

    Demand is through the roof, so we appreciate your patience as you await your invitation.

  9. Doesn't for profit companies storing your DNA scare you just a little bit? There have already been cases where for profit companies are trying to patent gene sequences. With the way companies go patent crazy then use those patents to go lawsuit happy, pretty soon they will be suing individuals like us because we contain those gene sequences. And they will be able to prove it in court because we gave our DNA to them. There is no way I will ever send my DNA off to any company for any kind of analysis. I would rather not know something than take the chance of getting sued over my own DNA. Trust me - this kind of thing -will- happen in the future.... It's called CORPORATE GREED.

    1. No one can sue you because you have a gene sequence in your DNA. You were born with it and inherited it from your ancestors. Quite frankly, I think you are a paranoid nut job. If you don't feel comfortable sending way your DNA, then fine I completely understand. But your theory about being sued over your DNA is utterly ridiculous.

  10. Could not login to Genetree to transfer my DNA data. Sggest you extend the time allowed to make the change or change your procedures.

  11. I logged into my account today.