The big question is what is BGI Shenzhen getting out of all this and how does it make sense? They're plunking down $117.6 million to acquire Complete Genomics. In the press release, CEO Jun Wang states "Complete has developed a proprietary whole human genome sequencing technology that, together with other sequencing platforms used by BGI, will fit well with our research and business requirements and position Complete to become an even more successful global innovator". BGI has been omnivorous in terms of sequencing platforms, so in that sense it fits. Complete has claimed very low cost-per-base, but has been unable to dominate the human genome sequencing world as they would have liked; Illumina has hacked prices to similar levels. I haven't talked to them in a while, being out of human genome business for a year now, but a serious challenge for Complete had been the long lead time for their process, though they had demonstrated sequencing from very tiny input amounts (Complete's early service required tens to hundreds of micrograms of input DNA).
BGI also gets a U.S. sequencing facility to go beyond their office in Kendall Square; it will be interesting to see if they keep the factory open. On the one hand, much of their business advantage comes from centralization and (presumably) lower labor costs in Shenzhen than the U.S.. However, for many services speed is becoming an issue, with the few days for a sample to transit the Pacific a serious hindrance. Furthermore, BGI also gets CG's long-term deals with various customers, which weren't sufficient to maintain a publicly traded company but could prove valuable for a different business structure.
BGI also gets Complete's Long Fragment Read technology. For me, this is exciting because it opens the possibility of BGI making it available for other genomes. From the outset, my business brain saw the operating advantages to CG's 'any DNA sequence you want, as long as it's a complete human genome' business model, but my scientific brain was always frustrated by it. Now, there's a chance that this exciting approach to getting long-range sequence information in general, and specifically haplotypes, may be applied broadly.
A final thought: Complete decided not to drag out the process of struggling. On the public market for less than 2 years, they saw that their business model just wasn't working and headed for the exits. This can be contrasted with Helicos, which has had a perils-of-Pauline experience for multiple years now. As someone who once rode a biotech until it sank beneath the waves, I must express a certain admiration for those who continue to believe in the company and keep it going. But at some point, perhaps it is more merciful to admit defeat and jump into the arms of any reasonable suitor. Of course, that requires a suitor that one views as reasonable, and so the open question for Helicos is whether there have been no reasonable suitors or Helicos has just been too stubborn to entertain reasonable offers.