Unpacking 23andMe’s SPAC Debut This Week

One of the most unique companies to hit the market, 23andMe went public via SPAC on Thursday to much fanfare, but what does it do?

Perhaps you and Warren Buffett have a shared ancestry? Perhaps a distant uncle once played for the Patriots? 23andMe’s (NASDAQ: ME) (maybe) got the answers.

It’s also got a good public debut after jumping 21% to close at $13.32 per share yesterday. 

What does 23andMe do? 

23andMe is the latest future-looking venture to go public, as it is an at-home genetic testing kit company. This latest SPAC merger on Wall Street comes courtesy of billionaire mogul, Richard Branson, who was also responsible for bringing us the famous Virgin Galactic SPAC back in 2019. 

The deal with Branson’s VG Acquisition Corp. raised nearly $600 million and valued ME at $3.5 billion, with 23andMe trading on the Nasdaq under the rather selfish-sounding ticker symbol, ‘ME’.

And while you might think that ancestry tests are hardly a big money-maker, CEO and founder Anne Wojcicki is convinced that her firm can build a massive consumer following off of its 11 million customer base. With almost 80% of ME’s test-takers opting to share genetic information, it opens up a very big market for disease R&D. In Wojcicki’s own words:

“Our genetics represent all of life on this planet, and we have the opportunity to understand what it means and with that, it will improve your own life but also contribute to all kinds of research discoveries.”

Basically, 23andMe believes that the key to its future is that consumers will want to use the information to not only change their life but contribute to drug discovery.

It’s certainly a big industry to break into, and as the market leader in at-home genetics data collection, there’s plenty of room to grow. Whether ME can capitalize on this remains to be seen, but it’s certainly one of the most interesting debuts in quite some time.

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