Open Thread Thursday: Ancestry.com Sold; No Time to Panic

open thread

This week’s topic for Open Thread Thursday is:

On Monday, October 22, Ancestry.com announced that Permira Funds – a European private equity firm – had entered into a merger agreement to purchase Ancestry for $32.00 per share, or $1.6 billion (US). The devil is in the details, of course, and the details we know so far can be seen here in the official Ancestry.com press release.

While the genealogy community has known about the pending Ancestry sale since June of this year, there are still questions concerning the direction to be taken in terms of Ancestry’s products and services.

Will there be major, or even minor, changes? What impact will the sale have on the professional genealogy segment and related businesses that depend upon Ancestry’s content? Or will there be no noticeable change and a “business as usual” course of action taken by management?

Post your responses in the comments or at a post on your own genealogy blog and place the link here in the comments.

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Well I’ve been tracking this story since June and here at GeneaBloggers we discussed various possible buyers for Ancestry.com including Google, Facebook and other entities. I was disappointed that Ancestry.com’s Q3 2012 financial earnings conference call scheduled for this afternoon was cancelled, now I can understand why . . . it makes no sense to have a call to keep investors informed and to answer Wall Street analyst questions when the company is on its way from public to private.

So while my initial reaction yesterday was disappointment (yes, I actually looked forward to those calls each quarter!), it is not some plot to keep information private.  It is a common practice when a company is under a sale agreement with a private entity.

What concerns me more right now, is what I am hearing about Ancestry.com.

Sound Research Counts . . . Even In Business Deals

If you were to look at comments on social media, you’d think the genealogical sky was falling:

I am hearing it is now owned by a British firm and that the SSDI will no longer be available for free…but now all services will have an added charge attached to it??

Seriously? Are we playing the childhood game of Operator here?

So someone can purport to be serious about their family’s history, have mad skills when it comes to researching, yet they can’t even take the time to gather all the facts publicly available about a company being sold?  Unfortunately, comments like those above, posted to Ancestry’s Facebook page, abound.  I would have serious doubts about trusting such a person’s genealogy research . . .

Seriously folks.  DO YOUR HOMEWORK.  Research, and sound research at that, is the backbone of genealogy.  It continues to amaze me that some  in the genealogy field can tell you in exacting detail how to find a Palatine ancestor who settled in the Albany area in the early 1700s, yet they would rather make a guess or an unsubstantiated claim about Ancestry.com’s future than research facts and put together a solid theory.

One only has to look at Ancestry’s Investor Relations page for the latest official news and financial figures filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.  Or use a Google Alert to stay on top of what Wall Street analysts and others are saying about the Ancestry.com sale.

Keep Calm and Search On

If change does come to Ancestry.com, I don’t expect it to be sudden or radical in nature.  Why? Well, first off, it seems that the same management team will be kept in place by Permira according to Monday’s announcement:

Tim Sullivan, Ancestry.com’s President and Chief Executive Officer, and Howard Hochhauser, Ancestry.com’s Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer, will maintain a majority of their equity stakes in the company as part of the transaction. Spectrum Equity will also remain an investor in the company.

Second, the current business model is working and making money for the stockholders and I expect it will make a profit for Permira. Why should Ancestry.com veer from its mission which according to its website is:

We provide ongoing value to our subscribers by regularly adding new historical content, enhancing our websites with new tools and features and enabling greater collaboration among our users through the growth of our global community. Our plan to achieve long-term and sustainable growth is to increase our subscriber base in the United States and around the world by serving our loyal base of existing subscribers and by attracting new subscribers;

Time will tell what Permira decides to tweak in terms of Ancestry’s products and services. But I  expect such changes to happen over the course of months and years, not days or weeks.  Until then, I’m going to keep calm and use Ancestry as I always have to find more about my ancestors, and about myself.

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This is a great topic for this week’s Open Thread Thursday! And please, if you have a topic you’d like to see discussed among your genealogy blogging colleagues, please contact us and we’ll take it under consideration.

Disclosure:  Please see Disclosure Statements for more information on my material connection with genealogy vendors and organizations.

©2012, copyright Thomas MacEntee

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LegacyStories.org is First Website to read FamilySearch.org Family Tree

FamilySearch.org has awarded LegacyStories.org certified affiliate status for Family Tree Access.

This read-only capability is the first of two certifications that will eventually allow people to link multi-media stories to ancestors found on the FamilySearch.org Family Tree.

“We are proud and excited to be the first web application that can search for ancestors on the FamilySearch.org Family Tree”, says Tom Cormier, LegacyStories.org co-founder.

FamilySearch is scheduled to launch the revolutionary Tree Connect feature in late November, 2012. LegacyStories.org has all but completed the necessary requirements to be certified for the Tree Connect feature when it becomes available.

Until then, LegacyStories.org members can write or record their ancestor stories, search the Family Tree for the ancestor they wish to link them to, and bookmark the name to a list so that when Tree Connect is launched it will only take one step to link the stories.

Cormier continues, “The Tree Connect feature is going to revolutionize the genealogy world. With this technology LegacyStories.org can turn 2-dimensional ancestor records into 3-dimensional life with talking photos, multi-media story pages and more. It’s finally time to put the leaves on the family tree.

To learn how the process works visit the site’s dedicated FamilySearch webpage at: http://www.legacystories.org/fsearch.

About Legacy Stories

LegacyStories.org is a heritage-centric meeting place for sharing stories that can teach and inspire. The cloud-based site provides members with five privacy levels for friends and family networks plus on all content. Members can visit The Legacy Shop with hundreds of heritage-related products like genealogy books, software and technology. You can join or create groups for genealogy, family reunions, historical and genealogical societies and more.

The free LegacyStories.org membership offers generous access to all features with the ability to write, publish and link an unlimited number of multi-media stories, up to 100 ancestor photos, 5 audio recordings, 5 talking photos and much more. Members can pay a nominal monthly or annual fee to acquire additional features. Learn more at www.legacystories.org.

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Genealogy Market Info: Family Tree Magazine 2013 Media Planner

Family Tree Magazine 2013 Media Planner

Each October, I look forward to when Family Tree Magazine publishes its media planner for the coming year.  There usually is not much publicity about the document and most in the genealogy industry accidentally stumble upon it.  You can download the Family Tree Magazine 2013 Media Planner here (note: it is a large 5.5MB PDF file that will open in the free Adobe Reader).

While the intent of the media planner is to layout all the advertising options available at the most popular genealogy magazine in the United States, for me and many others, it gives updated information about the state of the genealogy market.

The following data comes from Family Tree Magazine reader surveys:

  • 92% of Family Tree Magazine readers want to learn about their ancestors’ lives
  • 85% want to record their tree for posterity
  • 82% aim to trace their family tree back as many generations as possible
  • 63% consider themselves intermediate genealogists; 19% are beginners
  • Magazine readers have been researching for an average of 19 years, and spend an average of 10 hours and 54 minutes each week on genealogy activities
  • Readers spend 8 hours and 12 minutes per week on online genealogy
  • 75% of their total genealogy time is spent on the Internet
  • Readers spend an average of $513 per year on genealogy
  • 49% of their genealogy spending is online

You can learn more by downloading the media planner and reading the various statistics in the  sidebars.  Also share your thoughts in the Comments below about the data.  Is it in-line with your views of the genealogy industry or your own habits and practices in genealogy?

©2012, copyright Thomas MacEntee

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