Virgin Group

Business • Markets
DNA-testing firm 23andMe to go public as a $3.5 billion through Richard Branson-backed SPAC deal
23andme test kit
23andme test kit Credit: Nicki Dugan Pogue (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

A blank-check firm, backed by Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson, is taking consumer DNA-testing firm 23andMe public in a deal that values the merged entity at $3.5 billion, both companies said on Thursday. The company will trade under the symbol “ME” on the New York Stock Exchange.

A SPAC, or a blank-check firm, is a shell company that raises funds in an initial public offering (IPO) to acquire a private company, becoming public due to the merger.

Over the years, 23andMe has become popular with consumers, and in 2018 caught the eye of GlaxoSmithKline, which invested $300 million in the Silicon Valley company, best known for its saliva-based test kits that offer users a glimpse into their genetic ancestry.

Transportation • Air Transportation & Traffic, Flying
Virgin Atlantic passengers require negative Covid-19 tests to fly from London to US
Virgin Atlantic passengers require negative Covid-19 tests to fly from London to US
Credit: Alan Wilson, via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0)

Virgin Atlantic has announced that all passengers travelling from London to the United States will be required to show proof of a negative Covid-19 vaccine. The new requirement will go in effect on December 24.

“With the health and safety of our customers and people always our number one priority, we will require all travellers to present evidence of a negative LAMP or PCR Covid-19 test, taken up to 72 hours prior to departure, including on-site at the airport,” Virgin said in a statement.

Transportation • Public, Railway & Bus Transportation
Virgin Hyperloop tested first passenger journey
Virgin Hyperloop tested first passenger journey
Credit: Virgin Hyperloop

Virgin Hyperloop has trialled the first ride on its test track Sunday in Las Vegas, Nevada. In the trial, two company staff members travelled the 500m test track in 15 seconds, reaching 172km/h. Virgin's system involves pods inside vacuum tubes carrying passengers at high speeds.

The company, founded in 2014, and previously known as was previously known as Hyperloop One and Virgin Hyperloop One, received investment from the Virgin Group in 2017.