Invitae to buy DNA-counseling chatbot developer Clear Genetics for $50M

The genetic testing firm Invitae aims to scale up its ability to provide personal guidance alongside its DNA test results—through the planned, $50 million acquisition of Clear Genetics, developers of digital counseling software.

The deal comes after Invitae inked a contract with insurance giant Cigna to bring its tests in-network, starting Dec. 1. That will complete the company’s collection of major commercial health plans, granting access to about 295 million people in the U.S.

Clear Genetics, a Y Combinator company, employs programmed chatbots to provide customers with actionable information, throughout the genetic testing process. Its HIPAA-compliant platform is already being used in Invitae’s direct-to-consumer offerings.

“For genetics to truly go mainstream, patients and clinicians need automated workflow solutions like those Clear Genetics has created,” Invitae co-founder and CEO Sean George said in a statement. “In working with the Clear Genetics team over the past year, we have first-hand experience with the value of their patient-centric services.”

Clear’s chatbot platform, named Gia, is designed to shepherd users through the consent and risk assessment phases, as well as help determine the applicable insurance benefits. Additionally, it can provide clinicians with a portal to help manage patient care.

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“In some ways, they can be thought of as a digital navigator for using genetic testing to care for patients,” said Invitae Chief Medical Officer Robert Nussbaum. “Understanding how best to expand the use of these technologies will play an important role in answering how clinicians will harness the power of genetics in mainstream medicine.”

Under the agreement, Invitae will acquire Clear about $25 million in cash, plus the remainder in shares of Invitae common stock. The two companies said they expect the deal to close in the coming days.

Earlier this month, Invitae presented its earnings report for the third quarter, detailing a 51% increase in revenue compared to the year before, driven by 65% growth year-over-year in its testing volume.

The company recorded more than 129,000 genetic samples last quarter, compared to 78,000 over the same period in 2018. Billable testing volume reached about 124,000, according to Invitae. That helped bring in $56.5 million in revenue, compared to last year’s $37.4 million—while an average cost-per-sample of $249 brought a gross profit of $24.4 million.