Familybuilder Announces DNA Testing

imageSimilar to a move made by myHeritage a few weeks ago, Familybuilder has announced that it will offer genetic genealogy testing to its customers.  As part of the launch of this new product, Familybuilder is offering both Y-DNA and mtDNA tests for only $59.95 until January 1.  After that, the price will be $89.95

Based on the demo account, it looks like the Y-DNA test includes 17 markers.  Although this isn’t many markers, $3.52 per marker is a great price.

Familybuilder is planning to continue to develop their genetic genealogy offering: “Currently in development is the ability to create Groups around surnames, families, and other criteria as well as the ability to Compare DNA.”  From the press release:

“Up to now, genealogical DNA testing for the masses has been cost-prohibitive,” said David Rheins, CMO of Familybuilder.  “We are excited about the launch of Familybuilder DNA, and believe that this tool will help millions of consumers better understand the origins of their heritage and ancestry. We are very focused on developing the Familybuilder DNA product line, and have plans to roll out additional tests and future functionality, including the ability to search our DNA database to identify living relatives with whom you share DNA.”

Interestingly, Familybuilder is one of the top 50 Facebook applications.  Will this motivate Facebook genealogists to enter the field of genetic genealogy?  And, if they do, will those results be available to others to compare with without using Familybuilder?

18 Responses

  1. Rebekah A Canada 10 December 2008 / 6:18 pm

    Hi Blaine,

    Before you tally the price per marker for Familybuilder… don’t you think you should add on the shipping&handling, $8.99, plus the tax,$5.17, that they calculate separately? $74.11 or 104.11 after the sale does not sound so wonderful. Somebody would have to retest at another company to do serious genealogical work too.

    Thanks for your work.


  2. Blaine Bettinger 10 December 2008 / 6:35 pm

    Rebekah – Actually, 17 markers for roughly $75 (or even $105!) is still a great price, better than almost every other testing company.

    I agree that 17 markers isn’t enough for many genetic genealogy uses, but I’m all for people getting bit with the genetic genealogy bug.

  3. Rebekah A Canada 10 December 2008 / 10:20 pm

    No. It is not. That is over $6.12/STR at the regular price. and other Sorenson Affiliates (DNA Heritage, Genetree, ect) offer a 43 STR test for about $4.63/STR. But they have a sale going…

    Family Tree DNA offers their 37 STR test for about $4.14/STR and their 67 STR test for about $3.76/STR. But they have a sale going…

    We both know that the majority of the cost for the first testing a company does in handling and extracting the DNA and planning for subsequent storage. Familybuilder and their unnamed lab have yet to say how long they will store samples or what the additional studies mentioned in the terms of service and privacy statement include.

    I am the administrator of multiple projects. With over 4,000 participants among them already I am asked if I have connections to pharmaceutical and health insurance firms. The public is leery. Because I have Family Tree DNA as my company of choice, I can confidently say that I do not and their customers need not be concerned.

    Does the company that does the actual testing for Familybuilder do pharmaceutical research? Have you asked?

    Service to the genealogical community is being straight up about what a test can and cannot provide. A 12 or 17 marker test is great for getting the basics on geographic origins. Even that should be backed by a strong SNP prediction program and the potential for SNP testing. But genetic genealogy begins with 37 or more STRs.

    Without the upgrade and integrity–now not maybe someday– Familybuilder is a waste and will turn more people off than on to DNA testing.


  4. Blaine Bettinger 10 December 2008 / 11:08 pm

    Rebekah – I certainly respect your views and thank you heartily for this great conversation; I wish more people would leave comments and join in.

    Rather than denounce new entrants in the field of genetic genealogy, I think we should open lines of communication with them and let them know what genetic genealogists are looking for. For example, nobody wants their DNA sold to a company for research without explicit permission, and the more markers that are tested, the better. New companies out there, I am ALWAYS available for consulting work!!

    I would hate to think that there can only be one or two laboratories qualified to do genetic genealogy testing; that type of monopoly wouldn’t be good for the field. After all, competition drives innovation.

  5. Emily 11 December 2008 / 12:52 am

    Blaine, I must echo Rebekah. No one should be testing their DNA without good knowledge of how it does and doesn’t help genealogy. As genetic genealogy bloggers we are also responsible for giving the public the whole picture. Family Builder does not disclose it’s lab and does not indicate how long it will keep the samples, if they can be upgraded, and their website indicates they will use the results for research. That is not the best standards in the field. Yes, compeition is good, but this is not competition…it is just underpricing quaility companies to get the dollar and not give the services. ANYONE who seriously looks into what the individual companies offer will see that Family Tree DNA is the best. They are very service oriented, besides. Sadly, Family Builder has the ear of many Facebook people who probably know very little about Genetic Genealogy. These types of companies play on the idea of giving people a good price…or what is perceived as a good price. Value for value it truly is not.

    Rather than just opening up a dialogue, please show all sides of an issue.


    Emily’s last blog post..Family Tree DNA Announces Holiday Gift

  6. Blaine Bettinger 11 December 2008 / 7:28 am

    Okay, I surrender! I’m glad you both stopped by and left your comments, and I hope you’ll feel free do so more often in the future.

  7. Derrell Oakley Teat 11 December 2008 / 11:13 am

    I’m not sure I understand why you are giving up…because we dont agree with you? Or because we are asking that if you publish a story about a DNA company, then tell the whole story!
    Getting people to test is NOT just about cost, their concerns are legimate ones and are the same as us project admins. Personal Privacy and What the heck happens to my sample and the results??


  8. Blaine Bettinger 11 December 2008 / 12:42 pm

    Derrell – I have written over 350 posts on this blog since I started it in early 2007, many of which mention or discuss the ethical issues surrounding genetic genealogy. I’ve written two FREE ebooks that discuss the legal and ethical issues of genetic genealogy testing, including one that took me weeks to write and has been downloaded over 3,000 times. In my free (and unpaid!) time I have done a great deal to educate thousands people about some of the concerns associated with genetic genealogy testing; in fact, I have even been accused of worrying too much about the ethical issues. Accusing me of failing to tell “the whole story” or reveal all sides simply because I wrote a short article about a new company is unfair.

    This article was about the launch of a new genetic genealogy offering. If you look back over the article and my comments, you’ll see that aside from highlighting the launch I commented on the low price of the testing (I often comment on the dropping price of genome sequencing in my posts – the crashing cost of sequencing is going to be the biggest thing to hit genetic genealogy in the very near future). I decided not to continue because somehow the conversation made it look as if I were a cheerleader for Familybuilder, which I don’t think is my job or a position I want to take.

    Some of my posts are simply about an interesting article in the news, or the launch of a new company. While I wish I had the time to write a review of every new product, I cannot do so. Instead, I choose those products or companies that I find the most interesting and write in detail about those. If you or anyone else is interested in writing a guest post that analyzes the offerings of various genetic genealogy companies, please let me know; I’ll be happy to publish quality articles here at TGG.

  9. David Rheins 19 December 2008 / 11:49 am

    Great to see such a robust debate here on The Genetic Genealogist, and such passion around the topic of DNA testing for genealogy purposes. As the CMO for Familybuilder, I welcome the opportunity to address these concerns with this great community:

    Pricing: Familybuilder DNA’s $59.95 price point for a 17 marker YDNA test or a mtDNA test is clearly the best value on the market. Compare our test with FamilytreeDNA’s $149 for a 12 marker DNA test or $129 for their mtDNA test.

    Laboratory: Familybuilder uses a state-of-the-art laboratory facility with ISO/IEC and ASCLD Lab Accreditation. We guarantee security, reliability and PRIVACY of all results.

    Privacy: Customer privacy is of the utmost importance to Familybuilder. We will not use or disclose information collected or received in connection with DNA Test Kits except as described below:

    Familybuilder will use the information you provide to build a public surname database library. The Public Surname Library will list all surnames of consumers who have purchased Test Kits and submitted samples for DNA analysis. Other than posting your surname, the Public Surname Library will not publicly disclose other Personal Information or the results of your DNA analysis.

    We will retain the results of your DNA analysis, together with your personal information. We will compare your genetic markers with others who have submitted Test Kits for DNA analysis. If your genetic markers match with other individuals who have submitted Test Kits for DNA analysis and you have signed a release form, we will notify you.
    If you sign a release form, your Personal Information will be released to the person with whom you have a match, but only if that person also agrees to disclose his or her Personal Information with you. We will not disclose your Personal Information to any other person or entity unless you first sign a release form and describe the information we may reveal about you.
    We may also use your DNA analysis results to perform studies. For those studies, your DNA analysis results will be anonymized, meaning that your Personal Information will be stripped from the record of your DNA analysis before any study is performed. We may also sell, rent or otherwise disclose the anonymized DNA analyses of our customers and any related anonymized studies to third parties.

    Storage: Familybuilder will store DNA samples for 5 years by default. If any customer would like his/her sample to be destroyed, simply notify us in writing (via email or regular mail) and we will immediately expedite the request.

  10. John 4 January 2009 / 12:08 pm

    So is the purpose of the DNA testing to link you to your family tree, and at the same time have a better understanding of where you came from?

  11. Michael Stallo 28 February 2009 / 2:03 pm

    Ancestry has a 33- marker Y DNA test for 79.95

  12. Emily 30 June 2009 / 1:59 pm

    Did anyone notice that David Rheins NEVER mentioned the name of the lab? AND stated: “We may also use your DNA analysis results to perform studies.” SO…it could be scientific studies which could include drug companies.

    SADLY, This company doesn’t really understand how useless 17 ydna markers really is and that five years is NOTHING for genealogists. Again, these new companies are driving by providing a CHEAP product price to lure people who hear a bit about genetic genealogy and jump on that one-horse cart. I’ve had so many complaints about DNA Ancestry and regrets that genealogists used them because they were cheaper than some. The general public does not understand all this and these upstart companies are using that fact, giving them a product that is totally a waste. Genetic Genealogy will be given a bad name and it will be TOTALLY the fault of such companies!

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