|Founders||Paul Brent Allen
|Tim Sullivan (Chairman)
Howard Hochauser (CFO/COO, acting CEO)
|Revenue||US$683.1 million (2015)|
Number of employees
|1,400 worldwide (2017)|
Ancestry.com LLC is a privately held online company based in Lehi, Utah. The largest for-profit genealogy company in the world, it operates a network of genealogical, historical record and genetic genealogy websites.
As of June 2014, the company claims to provide access to approximately 16 billion historical records, and have over 2 million paying subscribers and, as of February 2018, more than seven million AncestryDNA customers. The company also claims that its user-generated content tallies to more than 70 million family trees, and that subscribers have added more than 200 million photographs, scanned documents, and written stories.
Under its subsidiaries, Ancestry.com operates foreign sites that provide access to services and records specific to other countries in the languages of those countries. These include Australia, China, Japan, Brazil, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and several other countries in Europe and Asia.
With its roots as a genealogy newsletter started in 1983 by John Sittner, Ancestry, Inc. became an established publishing company in 1984. Ancestry was relaunched as a magazine in January 1994, and went online in 1996. On January 1, 1997, Infobases' parent company, Western Standard Publishing, purchased Ancestry, Inc., publisher of Ancestry magazine and genealogy books. Western Standard Publishing's CEO was Joe Cannon, one of the principal owners of Geneva Steel.
In 1990, Paul B. Allen and Dan Taggart, two Brigham Young University graduates, founded Infobases and began offering Latter-day Saints (LDS) publications on floppy disks. In 1988, Allen had worked at Folio Corporation, founded by his brother Curt and his brother-in-law Brad Pelo.
Infobases' first products were floppy disks and compact disks sold from the back seat of the founders' car. In 1994, Infobases was named among Inc. magazine's 500 fastest-growing companies. Their first offering on CD was the LDS Collectors Edition, released in April 1995, selling for $299.95, which was offered in an online version in August 1995. Ancestry officially went online with the launch of Ancestry.com in 1996.
In July 1997, Allen and Taggart purchased Western Standard's interest in Ancestry, Inc. At the time, Brad Pelo was president and CEO of Infobases, and president of Western Standard. Less than six months earlier, he had been president of Folio Corporation, whose digital technology Infobases was using. In March 1997, Folio was sold to Open Market for $45 million. The first public evidence of the change in ownership of Ancestry magazine came with the July/August 1997 issue, which showed a newly reorganized Ancestry, Inc., as its publisher. That issue's masthead also included the first use of the Ancestry.com web address.
More growth for Infobases occurred in July 1997, when Ancestry, Inc. purchased Bookcraft, Inc., a publisher of books written by leaders and officers of the LDS Church. Infobases had published many of Bookcraft's books as part of its LDS Collector's Library. Pelo also announced that Ancestry's product line would be greatly expanded in both CDs and online. Alan Ashton, a longtime investor in Infobases and founder of WordPerfect, was its chairman of the board.
Allen and Taggart began running Ancestry, Inc. independently from Infobases in July 1997, and began creating one of the largest online subscription-based genealogy database services.
In April 1999, to better focus on its Ancestry.com and MyFamily.com Internet businesses, Infobases sold the Bookcraft brand name and its catalog of print books to its major competitor in the LDS book market, Deseret Book. Included in the sale were the rights to Infobases' LDS Collectors Library on CD. A year earlier, Deseret Book had released a competing product called GospeLink, and the two products were combined as a single product by Deseret Book.
The MyFamily.com website launched in December 1998, with additional free sites beginning in March 1999. The site generated one million registered users within its first 140 days. The company raised more than US$90 million in venture capital from investors and changed its name on November 17, 1999 from Ancestry.com, Inc. to MyFamily.com, Inc. Its three Internet genealogy sites were then called Ancestry.com, FamilyHistory.com, and MyFamily.com. Sales were about US$62 million for 2002 and US$99 million for 2003.
In March 2004, the company, which had outgrown its call center in Orem, Utah, opened a new call center, which accommodates about 700 agents at a time, in Provo. Heritage Makers was acquired by MyFamily.com in September 2005. The Ancestry.ca website was opened on 24 January 2006. In March 2006, MyFamily opened a new office in Bellevue, Washington, as part of the MyFamily business unit. Encounter Technologies was acquired in April 2006.
By 2006[update], the Ancestry.com database contained information on 500 million people, information from every U.S. census record from 1790 to 1930. On December 19, 2006, the company changed its name to "The Generations Network." While the company had been offering free access to Ancestry.com at LDS Family History Centers, that service was terminated on 17 March 2007, because TGN and the LDS Church were unable to reach a mutually agreeable licensing agreement. In 2010, Ancestry restored access to its site at Family History Centers.
On July 6, 2009, the company changed its name to "Ancestry.com".
In 2010, Ancestry sold its book publishing assets to Turner Publishing Company. In the same year, Ancestry.com discontinued the publication of Ancestry, after 25 years of publication, and Genealogical Computing.
Ancestry.com became a publicly traded company on NASDAQ (symbol: ACOM) on November 5, 2009, with an initial public offering of 7.4 million shares priced at $13.50 per share, underwritten by Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, Jefferies & Company, Piper Jaffray, and BMO Capital Markets.
In 2010, Ancestry.com expanded its domestic operations with the opening of an office in San Francisco, California, staffed with brand new engineering, product, and marketing teams geared toward developing some of Ancestry's cutting-edge technology and services. In 2011, Ancestry launched an Android and iOS app.
In December 2011, Ancestry.com moved the Social Security Death Index search behind a paywall and stopped displaying the Social Security information of people who had died within the past 10 years, because of identity theft concerns.
In September 2012, Ancestry.com expanded its international operations with the opening of its European headquarters in Dublin, Ireland. The Dublin office includes a new call centre for international customers, as well as product, marketing, and engineering teams.
In October 2012, Ancestry.com agreed to be acquired by a private equity group consisting of Permira Advisers LLP, members of Ancestry.com's management team, including CEO Tim Sullivan and CFO Howard Hochhauser, and Spectrum Equity, for $32 per share or around $1.6 billion. At the same time, Ancestry.com purchased a photo digitization and sharing service called 1000Memories.
In September 2013, Ancestry.com announced its acquisition of Find a Grave. A month later, the company announced it had purchased the family history records of the South African genealogy website Ancestry24, which ceased operating in February 2013.
On July 16, 2015 Ancestry launched AncestryHealth, a generational health database. At the same time, the company also announced the appointment of Dr. Cathy A. Petti, MD as AncestryHealth's Chief Health Officer.
AncestryDNA is a subsidiary of Ancestry LLC. AncestryDNA offers a direct-to-consumer genealogical DNA test. Consumers provide a sample of their DNA to the company for analysis. AncestryDNA then uses DNA sequences to infer family relationships with other Ancestry DNA users and to provide what it calls an "ethnicity estimate." Previously, Ancestry.com also offered paternal Y-chromosome DNA and maternal mitochondrial DNA tests, but those were discontinued in June 2014. The company describes the technical process of testing in a scientific white paper. More than seven million customers had purchased the test by February 2018, making their database the largest in the world.
On September 30, 2013, Ancestry.com announced its acquisition of Find a Grave. Site editor Jim Tipton said of the purchase that Ancestry.com had, "...been linking and driving traffic to the site for several years. Burial information is a wonderful source for people researching their family history....” Ancestry.com launched a mobile app in March 2014.
RootsWeb was acquired by Ancestry in June 2000. RootsWeb is a free genealogy community that uses online forums, mailing lists, and other resources to help people research their family history. Founded in 1993 by Brian Leverich and Karen Isaacson as the Roots Surname List, it is the oldest free online community genealogy research site. Users can upload GEDCOM files of their information for others to search at the WorldConnect portion of the site. Trees uploaded to WorldConnect are searchable at both the RootsWeb and Ancestry websites. RootsWeb provides resources (such as webspace, mailing list, message boards) for the WorldGenWeb project.
On December 20, 2017, a file containing 300,000 RootsWeb user names, passwords, and email addresses was exposed to the internet. The 300,000 records were from RootsWeb surname list service with 55,000 of those records were also Ancestry.com login credentials.
Past genealogy programs.
- Ancestry Family Tree (Ancestral Quest by Incline Software, licensed by Ancestry.com in 2001 and branded for their use as Ancestry Family Tree. Available for free from Ancestry.com from 2001 to 2003.)
- Family Origins
- Generations Family Tree (Originally called "Reunion for Windows")
- Ultimate Family Tree (UFT)
- ROOTS software series by CommSoft was one of the first publishers of series of genealogy software programs, created in the 1980s, and available until 1997. Commsoft released the following, ROOTS89 for the Heath H-8 series of personal computers, ROOTS/M for the CP/M operating system, ROOTS II for MS-DOS, followed by ROOTS III and ROOTS IV. The company also released ROOTS V for Windows along with Visual ROOTS for Microsoft Windows.
- Family Tree Maker, sold in 2017.
- Genealogy.com, started in 1989 with the creation and marketing of the Family Tree Maker software. Genealogy.com maintains a genealogy research website with some records not found on Ancestry.com, though the total number of records available is smaller. As of 2001[update], Genealogy.com was noted as being Ancestry.com's greatest competitor. Genealogy.com was acquired by A&E Networks in February 2001, and subsequently by MyFamily.com in 2003. Geneaology.com was rendered defunt on September 30, 2014.
- MyFamily.com - allowed members to create private family, or group, websites. Customization was limited. After three years of a beta release 2.0, it was running the first non-beta release, "MyFamily.com 2.5.3". However, since the architecture was changed so radically from 2.0 to 2.5, internally at MyFamily all references to v2.5 are actually being called v3.0. Users of version 3.0 (a.k.a. 2.5) last saw an update to the code in February 2010. Since that date both v1.0 and v3.0 have been 'frozen'. Migration services from v1.0 to v3.0 were stopped on 21 March 2010 with no reason given. Many features of the original version of the site were not ported to release v3.0, although new features such as video support, blog support, social group interface, and unlimited storage were introduced. Also in May 2010, MyFamily closed its Bellevue, Washington, development office, effectively letting its entire staff go since the offer to move to Provo, Utah, was not accepted by any staff. Ancestry shut down MyFamily.com on September 5, 2014. Members were informed they could download zip files of their data if they desired. At the shutdown, MyFamily had not resolved discontent with the downloading process, which consisted of capturing miscellaneous uncatalogued photos, with alphanumeric names and no data attached, and various calendar documents, thus leaving behind the associated data, File Cabinet documents, family recipes, and all other information.
Site users and traffic
In mid-2001, Medill News Service reported the Ancestry.com had more than 350,000 subscribers. In the first quarter of 2012, Ancestry had 1.87 million users. According to Quantcast, as of April 2012, Ancestry.com reached a rough estimate of 8.3 – 8.4 million people in the US.
In the second quarter of 2014, Ancestry had 2.11 million users, for a loss of 52,000 subscribers when compared to the first quarter of 2014.
Ancestry is partnered with Calico, a company focused on longevity research and therapeutics, in an effort to investigate human heredity of lifespan. Together, they evaluate anonymized data from millions of public family trees and a growing database of over one million genetic samples. AncestryDNA and Calico will work together to analyze and investigate the role of genetics and its influences in families experiencing unusual longevity using Ancestry's proprietary databases, tools and algorithms. Calico will then focus its efforts to develop and commercialize any potential therapeutics that emerge from the analysis.
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