Homepage / Currency / The business of sperm banks
Amazon says this Prime Day was its biggest shopping event ever Kudlow says President Trump is 'so dissatisfied' with China trade talks that he is keeping the pressure on As stocks regain their footing, an ominous warning looms Goldman Sachs downgrades Clorox to sell, says valuation is 'unsustainably high' How Satya Nadella has spurred a tripling of Microsoft's stock price in just over four years Kudlow says economic growth could top 4% for 'a quarter or two,' more tax cuts could be coming The one chart that explains Netflix’s stunning comeback US housing starts plunge 12% in June to a nine-month low Aerospace titans Boeing and Airbus top $110 billion in orders at Farnborough Target uses Prime Day to its advantage, logging its 'biggest online shopping day' so far this year Billionaire Marc Lasry sees bitcoin reaching up to $40,000 as it becomes more mainstream and easier to trade These are the 10 US airports where you're most likely to be hacked Amazon shares slightly higher as investors await Prime Day results Wreck of Russian warship found, believed to hold gold worth $130 billion A bullish ‘phenomenon’ in bond market is weeks away from fading, top credit strategist says Stocks making the biggest moves premarket: MS, GOOGL, TXN, UAL, NFLX & more Twitter shares up 50% since late April means most upside priced in, analyst says in downgrade EU fines Google $5 billion over Android antitrust abuse Mortgage applications fall 2.5% as buyers struggle to find affordable homes America may not have the tools to counter the next financial crisis, warn Bernanke, Geithner and Paulson Investors are getting spooked as the risk of a no-deal Brexit rises EU expected to fine Google $5 billion over Android antitrust abuse Ex-FBI chief James Comey urges Americans to vote for Democrats in midterm elections Elon Musk apologizes to British cave diver following baseless 'pedo guy' claim Disney, Comcast and Fox: All you need to know about one of the biggest media battles ever Xiaomi shares notch new high after Hong Kong, mainland China stock exchanges reach agreement The trade war is complicating China's efforts to fix its economy European markets set for a strong open amid earnings; Google in focus Hedge fund billionaire Einhorn places sixth in major poker tournament The biggest spender of political ads on Facebook? President Trump Asian stocks poised to gain after Fed's Powell gives upbeat comments; dollar firmer Stocks are setting up to break to new highs Not all FAANG stocks are created equal EU ruling may be too little, too late to stop Google's mobile dominance Cramer explains how Netflix's stock managed to taper its drop after disappointing on earnings Airbnb condemns New York City's 'bellhop politics,' threatens legal retaliation Amazon sellers say they were unfairly suspended right before Prime Day, and now have two bad choices Investor explains why 'duller' tech stocks can have better returns than 'high-flying' tech names Elon Musk is 'thin-skinned and short-tempered,' says tech VC Texas Instruments CEO Brian Crutcher resigns for violating code of conduct Google Cloud Platform fixes issues that took down Spotify, Snapchat and other popular sites Uber exec: We want to become the 'one stop' transportation app 'What a dumb hearing,' says Democrat as Congress grills tech companies on conservative bias Amazon shares rebound, report says Prime Day sales jumped 89 percent in first 12 hours of the event How to put your medical history on your iPhone in less than 5 minutes Investment chief: Watch these two big events in 2018 Even with Netflix slowing, the market rally is likely not over Cramer: Netflix subscriber weakness debunks the 'sky's the limit' theory on the stock Netflix is looking at watch time as a new area of growth, but the competition is stiff Why Nobel laureate Richard Thaler follows Warren Buffett's advice to avoid bitcoin Rolls-Royce is developing tiny 'cockroach' robots to crawl in and fix airplane engines After Netflix plunge, Wall Street analysts forecast just tame returns ahead for the once high-flying FANG group Roku shares rise after analyst raises streaming video company's price target due to customer growth China is investing 9 times more into Europe than into North America, report reveals Amazon says US Prime Day sales 'so far bigger than ever' as glitch is resolved Netflix is on pace for its worst day in two years US lumber producers see huge opportunity, rush to expand San Francisco to consider tax on companies to help homeless Homebuilder sentiment, still high, stalls as tariffs, labor and land drive up costs Powell backs more rate hikes as economy growing 'considerably stronger' Netflix history is filled with big stock declines – like today – followed by bigger rebounds Intel shares get downgraded by Evercore ISI due to rising competition from Nvidia, AMD Petco aims to reinvent the pet store with something you can't buy online Genetic testing is coming of age, but for consumers it's buyer beware Tech 'FAANG' was the most-crowded trade in the world heading into the Netflix implosion, survey shows Netflix weak subscriber growth may indicate a 'maturity wall' that could whack the stock even more: Analyst This chart may be predicting the bull market's demise Wall Street says Netflix's stock plunge is a ‘compelling’ buying opportunity because the streaming giant ‘never misses twice’ Tesla sinks after Musk tweets, again Boeing announces new division devoted to flying taxis Stocks making the biggest move premarket: NFLX, UNH, GS, AMZN, WMT & more Deutsche Bank downgrades Netflix, but says big subscriber miss is not 'thesis changing' IBM is experimenting with a cryptocurrency that’s pegged to the US dollar North Korea and Zimbabwe: A friendship explained Virgin Galactic spinoff Orbit to launch rockets from the UK with space deal Artificial intelligence will create more jobs than it destroys? That’s what PwC says ‘Treasonous’ Trump and ‘Putin’s poodle:' Scathing headlines follow the Trump-Putin summit China’s fintech companies offer ‘enormous’ opportunity, investment manager says Trump's performance at summit with Putin was 'unprecedented,' experts say Walmart and Microsoft link up on cloud technology as they both battle Amazon European stocks seen mixed amid earnings; Fed’s Powell to address Congress How I knew I should quit my day job and run my start-up full-time: Viral website founder China's stocks have been trounced, but the trade war may ultimately be good news for those shares Billionaire tech investor Peter Thiel bets on crypto start-up Block.one Asian shares subdued open after mixed close on Wall Street; energy stocks under pressure Amazon cloud hits snags after Amazon Prime Day downtime Netflix isn't doomed by one quarter unless people start questioning the long-term investor thesis Tech stocks set to sink on Tuesday after rough evening for ‘FANG’ Netflix plummets after missing big on subscriber growth This wristband lets humans control machines with their minds The U.S. has a rocky history convincing Russia to extradite computer criminals Amazon suffers glitches at the start of Prime Day Jeff Bezos is now the richest man in modern history 'The United States has been foolish': Read Trump and Putin's full exchange Goldman Sachs recommends these 5 highly profitable companies — including Nvidia — to combat rising inflation Goldman Sachs releases 'tactical' stock picks for this earnings season Three red flags for Netflix ahead of its earnings report The bond market may be raising recession fears, but don't expect one anytime soon Cramer: Banks are 'making fortunes' but are still as hated as they were during the financial crisis Putin told Trump at summit: Russia never meddled in US election

Currency

The business of sperm banks

BROWSING websites that list sperm donors is weirdly similar to online dating. “Sanford is the total package,” begins one online ad, describing his strong jawline and piercing blue eyes. With a degree in finance and a “charming demeanour”, he is more than a pretty face. You can listen to a voice recording from Sanford himself. If all that wins you over, you can have his baby without ever having to go on a date. For $635, Seattle Sperm Bank (SSB) will post you a vial of his frozen swimmers.

The fact that the main customers for many sperm banks are now single women explains the marketing technique. “They tend to be highly educated, impatient and picky,” says Ole Schou, founder of Cryos International, the world’s largest sperm bank, based in Denmark’s second-biggest city, Aarhus. Its website is designed to resemble Match.com, a dating site, because “finding a donor should be as close to finding a natural partner as possible.”

  • The Gates Foundation is worried about the world’s health

  • Retail sales, producer prices, wages and exchange rates

  • Foreign reserves

  • Why Italy’s troubled economy is returning to form

  • Sorry, Roger: Rafael Nadal is not just the king of clay

  • Sam Brownback, governor of Kansas, heads for the exit

Outside the Cryos office, a steady trickle of young men park their bicycles and head for the donor room, which is equipped with the usual pornographic magazines, a television and an inexplicable cactus. After they hand in their contributions, lab technicians test them and sort them by quality. The samples are labelled, frozen and stored in five large vats of liquid nitrogen at -196°C. Once orders come in they will be shipped to homes, clinics and other sperm banks in over 100 countries.

Fertility is a sizeable industry; commercial sperm banks are a crucial and profitable part of it. The global sperm-bank business could be worth nearly $5bn by 2025, according to Grand View Research, a market-research firm in California. Demand has risen strongly. That is partly because people in rich countries are postponing their childbearing years; they struggle to conceive as a result. But an even greater reason is that in more places, it is both legal and increasingly acceptable for lesbian couples and single women to have children. These groups make up 60% and 90% of clients at Cryos and SSB, respectively.

As demand rises, politicians and regulators are trying to exert more control. That has created a patchwork of rules that affect sources of both supply and demand. In some countries, such as Britain and the Netherlands, anonymous donation of sperm has been outlawed, contributing to sperm shortages; in others, such as France and Spain, donors must be anonymous. In Canada, donors cannot be paid; in most European countries they can be compensated only for expenses; in America there are no limits on remuneration.

As for buyers of sperm, many head for jurisdictions where waiting times and prices are lower or the level of testing or information about the donor greater, or because restrictive rules at home prevent them from receiving donor sperm altogether. In Hong Kong and Switzerland, for example, only married, heterosexual couples are eligible for treatment with donor sperm. In France lesbians and single women are excluded. This legislative hodgepodge represents opportunity for those that can export sperm. Thanks to dry ice, the internet and DHL, good-quality sperm has become highly tradable.

Where did you guys gamete?

The industry has not always been in the hands of businessmen. For much of the 20th century, infertile couples would see a doctor who would pull his best-looking student from the corridor and use his freshly volunteered sperm to inseminate the woman, recalls Rene Almeling at Yale University. No records were kept. The HIV epidemic of the 1980s ended such shenanigans. Freezing, quarantining and testing both sperm and donors became crucial.

Worried about rising costs and legal liability, medical clinics left the business and commercial sperm banks filled the gap. The market has become highly competitive. Many customers need between six and ten vials to conceive, and with lots coming back for siblings, the business is all about the first sell. Cryos’s sales department is bigger than the science lab.

Sperm banks can be divided into two groups: those that regard sperm donation as a medical matter and those that do not. Firms such as Cryos are adamant that donation to a healthy woman is not a medical issue. “It takes place millions of times each day without a doctor,” argues Mr Schou. Other sperm banks emphasise clinical expertise. “We provide the highest quality donors for the safest possible babies and happiest families,” says Fredrik Andreasson, chief financial officer of Seattle Sperm Bank, which focuses not just on healthy but on “sellable” donors, such as doctors. It prides itself in accepting only 1% of donors and on testing for more genetic diseases than any other bank.

Prices for sperm have roughly doubled over the past decade at several banks. London Sperm Bank now charges £950 ($1,261) per vial. At Cryos the cheapest, anonymous vials start at €40 ($48); the highest quality, with an identifiable donor, extra tests and more information, cost up to €1,600. Customers can gain “exclusive access” by buying out a donor for €12,000-30,000. American banks tend to charge extra for information. Want to see a picture or hear the donor’s voice? That will be $25.

For Amy Graves and her partner Claire Harrison, from Britain, information from Cryos about donors was crucial. “As I was going to carry the baby it was important to us that there were similarities between the donor and Claire,” explains Ms Graves. They settled on a man who loved football, like Claire, and martial arts, like Amy, and who shares Claire’s favourite colour (red) and some of her facial features.

The commercialisation of sperm, eggs and other human tissue makes many people uneasy. Sperm banks are elusive about profit margins, but if a donor is paid $100 per sample, often split into as many as five vials, sold for $500-1,000 each, margins ought to be healthy even after costs. Yet the non-profit market has failed many people desperate to have children. After Britain started a national sperm bank in 2014, it recruited just eight donors in two years.

The industry has challenges. Heterosexual couples are increasingly likely to freeze their own eggs and sperm cells for later; fertility treatments with the poorest sperm are improving. Last year the first steps towards making sex cells out of body cells were detailed in Nature, a science journal. But for the foreseeable future, more sperm banks will be advertising for donors who “have what it takes” and are willing to lend a hand to modern families everywhere.

Source: economist
The business of sperm banks

Comments are closed.