World’s Largest Owner Buys World’s Largest Genealogy Site

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Stephen A. Schwarzman (center), CEO of the Blackstone Group that is buying a controlling stake in Ancestry.com, sits with President Donald Trump (left) and Chris Liddell (right) in the White House on April 11, 2017.

Stephen A. Schwarzman (center), CEO of the Blackstone Group that is buying a controlling stake in Ancestry.com, sits with President Donald Trump (left) and Chris Liddell (right) in the White House on April 11, 2017.
Photo: Brendan Smialowski (Getty Images)

The Blackstone Group will buy a controlling stake in genealogy site Ancestry.com in a deal worth $ 4.7 billion, according to a press release. Wednesday. Blackstone Group, a private equity firm, is the world’s largest owner and Ancestry is the world’s largest genealogy site, with over 6 billion records of family history in the United States alone. . Ancestry also provides DNA testing and has over 18 million DNA test results in its databases.

Ancestry officially operates in more than 34 countries around the world, although it is accessible almost anywhere on the planet. The Genealogy website was founded in Utah in 1996 and has over three million paying subscribers with revenues of around $ 1 billion per year. The company has grown into DNA testing in recent years and has partnered with pharmaceutical companies to share data, raising eyebrows among privacy activists. The Pentagon has even warned U.S. military personnel against using DNA test kits available from companies like Ancestry et 23andMe.

Blackstone buys 75% stake in Ancestry, according to Financial Times, and owns hundreds of thousands of properties around the world. Blackstone owns commercial and residential buildings in the United States, Europe, Asia and South America, including top-notch hotels like the Bellagio in Las Vegas and the largest apartment complex in Manhattan. Properties are often held under countless affiliate names.

The United Nations issued a report in 2019 accusing Blackstone of “wreaking havoc” with “aggressive evictions” and contributing to the housing crisis that was becoming apparent even before the coronavirus pandemic blew up the global economy. Blackstone killed the 2009 financial crisis, raising billions of dollars apartment complexes and single family homes in the early 2010s.

Blackstone CEO and co-founder billionaire Stephen A. Schwarzman pays large sums to the Republican Party and has strong ties to the Trump regime, serving as President Trump business advisory board in 2017. Schwarzman previously called proposed tax increases on businesses under the Barack Obama administration, “like when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939,” which he later apologized for.

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Ancestry’s deal raises a lot of ethical questions for all who care, and people are already telegraphing their concerns over social media about the case. There is no evidence that Blackstone purchased Ancestry for the purpose of discriminating against tenants based on race or national origin, but it is not unreasonable to ask whether purchasing from a genealogy website will facilitate unethical and illegal behavior in an environment. where we know that housing discrimination is still rampant, not just in the United States, but around the world.

US federal housing laws prohibit landlords from discriminating against prospective tenants on the basis of race, religion, and national origin, among other categories. But big tech companies like Facebook have made it much easier for owners to do just that behind the scenes. In 2016, a ProPublica investigation found that Facebook allowed landowners to target ads based on race, a blatant violation of the Fair Housing Act of 1968 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Facebook called this a technical problem, but did not abolish the practice until 2019 following a series of lawsuits brought by civil rights organizations.

Regardless of its value, Blackstone says he’s just interested in digital consumer businesses and wants to invest more money in data development for the business.

“We are very pleased to partner with Ancestry and its leadership team. We believe Ancestry has an important lead for future growth, as people of all ages and backgrounds are increasingly interested in learning more about their family history and themselves, ”said David Kestnbaum, Senior Managing Director of Blackstone, in a statement. online.

“We look forward to investing in further data, functionality and product development on Ancestry’s market-leading platform to continue to provide differentiated service. Our investment is a prime example of Blackstone’s continued strong commitment to investing in growing digital consumer businesses that are resilient in today’s environment and beyond.

Will individual property managers who operate under Blackstone have access to Ancestry’s DNA and genealogy records? Technically, any owner can already use many business documents today, just as they use business background checks and consumer products like the Google search engine. But it makes perfect sense to ask seemingly paranoid questions in increasingly paranoid times.

After all, the United States currently has a president who was sued by the United States Department of Justice in 1973 for housing discrimination in its rental properties in New York, long before the internet and DNA testing were available to the masses. President Trump and his father would write a capital “C” on black rental applications. What did the “C” mean? Colored.

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