23andMe, Richard Branson, and a $600M IPO on Nasdaq

In recent news, 23andMe, the popular DNA testing company, has announced its plans to go public through a merger with Richard Branson’s special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), VG Acquisition Corp. The deal values 23andMe at $3.5 billion and is expected to bring in $600 million in gross proceeds. The company will be listed on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol “ME.” This move marks a significant milestone for 23andMe, which was founded in 2006 and has since become a household name in the genetic testing industry.

The History of 23andMe

23andMe was founded by Anne Wojcicki, Linda Avey, and Paul Cusenza in 2006. The company’s mission was to make genetic testing accessible and affordable to the masses. Initially, 23andMe offered a simple DNA test that provided customers with information about their ancestry and health risks. Over time, the company expanded its offerings to include more comprehensive health reports and even partnered with pharmaceutical companies to conduct genetic research.

However, 23andMe faced significant regulatory hurdles in the early years of its existence. In 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ordered the company to stop selling its health reports, citing concerns about the accuracy of the information provided. This setback forced 23andMe to pivot its business model and focus on ancestry testing.

In recent years, 23andMe has regained its footing and expanded its offerings once again. The company now provides customers with information about their genetic predisposition to various health conditions, as well as carrier status for certain genetic diseases. Additionally, 23andMe has partnered with GlaxoSmithKline to develop new drugs based on genetic data.

The Role of Richard Branson

Richard Branson, the billionaire entrepreneur and founder of Virgin Group, has been involved in the deal as the chairman of VG Acquisition Corp. Branson’s SPAC was created specifically for the purpose of acquiring a company and taking it public. The merger with 23andMe marks VG Acquisition Corp.’s first acquisition.

Branson’s involvement in the deal is significant for several reasons. First, his reputation as a successful entrepreneur and investor lends credibility to the merger. Second, his experience in taking companies public will be invaluable to 23andMe as it navigates the complex process of becoming a publicly traded company.

The Potential Impact of the IPO

The IPO is expected to bring in $600 million in gross proceeds for 23andMe. This influx of capital will allow the company to continue its expansion into new markets and invest in research and development. Additionally, going public will provide 23andMe with increased visibility and access to capital markets.

However, there are also potential risks associated with the IPO. As a publicly traded company, 23andMe will be subject to increased scrutiny from investors and regulators. Additionally, the company’s valuation may be subject to fluctuations based on market conditions and investor sentiment.

The Future of 23andMe

Despite these risks, the future looks bright for 23andMe. The company has established itself as a leader in the genetic testing industry and has a loyal customer base. Additionally, the partnership with GlaxoSmithKline provides a significant opportunity for growth and innovation.

As 23andMe prepares to go public, it will be interesting to see how the company evolves and adapts to the challenges of being a publicly traded company. With Richard Branson’s guidance and a strong management team in place, 23andMe is well-positioned for success in the years to come.


The merger between 23andMe and VG Acquisition Corp. marks a significant milestone for the genetic testing company. Going public will provide 23andMe with increased visibility and access to capital markets, while also presenting new challenges and risks. With Richard Branson’s involvement and a strong management team in place, 23andMe is well-positioned for success in the years to come.


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