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SoftBank Backs Dog DNA Startup Embark at $700 Million Valuation

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(Bloomberg) -- Softbank Group Corp.’s Vision Fund 2 led a $75 million funding round for Embark Veterinary Inc., a genetics startup that seeks to increase dog lifespans.

The transaction values the Boston-based company at $700 million, Embark Chief Executive Officer Ryan Boyko said in an interview.

“We give pet owners and breeders tools to create the best future for their dogs and want to be able to expand our audience,” Boyko said, noting that Embark plans to use the proceeds for hiring and product development. “The topic of mortality, because of the pandemic, has made families realize they want their dogs around for as long as possible.”

Embark, which is processing the DNA of a dog belonging to SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son, hopes to increase canine lifespans by three years toward the end of this decade. The firm, which has mostly catered to clients in the U.S. and Canada, is considering an international expansion, Boyko said.

Other firms to participate in the funding round include F-Prime Capital, SV Angel, Freestyle Capital, Slow Ventures and Third Kind Venture Capital.

Embark’s “Breed ID” kit sells for $129 while another breeder-specific kit, the official DNA test of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, retails for $149.It offers other tests that screen for more than 200 health risks. Boyko said clients have lengthened their dogs’ lives by avoiding certain drugs, altering diets or making other changes based on Embark’s data.

Read more: Silicon Valley Wants Dogs to Live Longer So Humans Can, Too

Embark’s revenue surged 235% in 2020 from a year earlier and is poised to eclipse $100 million this year, a person with knowledge of the matter said.

The firm’s dog database will top 1 million in coming months, said Boyko, who founded Embark in 2015 with his brother Adam, an associate professor at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine in Ithaca, New York.

Embark found that avoiding inbreeding, which can cause allergies and other maladies, is a simple way to add two years to a dog’s life.

Read more: Pandemic Pet Boom Boosts Results for Animal Health Companies

Embark “is creating a new standard of personalized care through digital-based DNA insights,” Lydia Jett, a partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers who’s joining the startup’s board, said in an emailed statement.

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