Ancestry.com Inc., formerly The Generations Network, is a privately heldInternet company based in Provo, Utah, United States. The largest for-profitgenealogy company in the world, it operates a network of genealogical and historical record websites focused on the United States and nine foreign countries, develops and markets genealogical software, and offers a wide array of genealogical related services. As of December 2013, the company provided access to approximately 12.7 billion records and had 2.14 million paying subscribers. User-generated content included 191 million uploaded photos and more than 16 million uploaded stories.
In addition to its flagship site, Ancestry.com operates Archives.com, Fold3.com, ProGenealogists,1000memories.com, Newspapers.com, Genealogy.com, MyFamily.com, and Rootsweb.com.Family Tree Maker software developed and marketed by the company is advertised as "the #1 selling family history software".
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 several countries in Europe (covered by Ancestry.com Europe S.à r.l.) as well as Australia, Canada, and China.
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. Allen's brother Curt and his brother-in-law Brad Pelo had founded Folio Corporation, where Paul Allen had worked in 1988. Infobases chose to use the Folio infobase technology which Allen was familiar with as the basis for their products.
The first products were floppy disks and compact disks sold from the back seat of their 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 on-line version in August 1995.
On 1 January 1997, Infobases' parent company, Western Standard Publishing, purchased Ancestry, Inc., publisher of Ancestry magazine and genealogy books. Founded in 1983 by John Sittner as a genealogy newsletter, Ancestry magazine had been launched in January 1994. Western Standard Publishing's CEO was Joe Cannon, one of the principal owners of Geneva Steel.
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's LDS Collector's 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 17 November 1999 from Ancestry.com, Inc. to MyFamily.com, Inc. Its three Internet genealogy sites were then called Ancestry.com, MyFamily.com, and FamilyHistory.com. Sales for 2002 were about US$62 million, and those for 2003 were US$99 million.
In March 2004, the company opened a new call center in Provo as a result of outgrowing their old call center in Orem. The new call center accommodates about 700 agents at a time.Heritage Makers was acquired by MyFamily.com in September 2005, and sold a year later in August 2006. 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.
The Generations Network logo (2007–2009)
On 19 December 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 of the inability to reach a mutually agreeable licensing agreement between TGN and the LDS Church. In 2010, Ancestry restored access to its site at Family History Centers.
On 6 July 2009, the company changed its name to "Ancestry.com".
Ancestry.com became a publicly traded company on NASDAQ (symbol: ACOM) on 5 November 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 location to San Francisco, California, starting its office in San Francisco with brand new engineering, product, and marketing teams. The San Francisco office is geared toward developing some of Ancestry's cutting-edge technology and services. Some of their recent initiatives include iPhone and iPad application development.
In June 2012, rumors that Ancestry was working with Qatalyst Partners to put itself up for sale began to circulate.
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 purchased a photo digitization and sharing service called 1000Memories.
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.
On 30 September 2013, Ancestry.com announced its acquisition of Find a Grave.
On 22 October 2013, Ancestry.com announced it had purchased the family history records of South African genealogy website Ancestry24 which ceased operating in February 2013.
Products and services
Ancestry.com is a subscription-based genealogy research website with over 5 billion records online. The majority of records are from the United States, though records are being added for other countries, such as Canada, the UK, and European countries. Some records are free for anyone to access, but the majority are accessible only by paid subscription.
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.
MyFamily.com allows members to create private family or group websites. Customization is limited. The 1998 version is still available but no further enhancements are planned. After three years of a beta release 2.0, it is currently 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 (aka 2.5) last saw an update to the code in February 2010, so since that date both v1.0 and v3.0 have been 'frozen'. Migration services from v1.0 to v3.0 were stopped 21 March 2010 with no reason given. Many features of the original version of the site have not yet been ported to this release, although new features such as video support, blog support, social group interface, and unlimited storage have been introduced. Also in May 2010, MyFamily closed their Bellevue, Washington development office effectively letting their entire staff go since the offer to move to Provo, Utah, was not taken up by any staff. Since the loss of the Washington office, no new features have been added nor have any current problems/bugs been resolved. As of July 2010, free sites on v3.0 were discontinued.
RootsWeb was acquired by MyFamily.com 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.
Genealogy.com is a genealogy research website with some records not found on Ancestry.com, though the total number of records available is smaller. Genealogy.com was acquired from A&E Networks by MyFamily.com in 2003.
LongLostPeople.com allows one to search public records for living people in the United States.
Footnote.com, acquired in Fall 2010, has a large collection of documents dealing with the United States, including military records, city directories, and newspapers. Footnote has been rebranded as fold3.
ProGenealogists.com is the official Ancestry.com research firm.
Family Tree Maker (FTM) is advertised as "the #1 selling family history software". As with other genealogy software, FTM allows the researcher to keep track of information collected during research and to create reports, charts, and books containing that information. The software was originally developed by Kenneth Hess of Banner Blue Software, which was purchased by Brøderbund in 1995. It passed through the hands of The Learning Company, Mattel, and others before coming under its current ownership.
A redesigned Family Tree Maker 2008 was released on 14 August 2007. The 2009 version of the program corrected some of the errors and omissions of its predecessor, and introduced a few new features. Family Tree Maker 2010 claims to further enhance the radical re-design and be more powerful and feature-packed with faster navigation and quicker load times.
A version for the Mac was released in 1997, but due to low market demand was discontinued for over a decade. A new version of Family Tree Maker for Mac was finally released on 4 November 2010.
Family Tree Maker Version 16 was awarded a CODiE Award in the "Best Consumer Productivity Solution" category in 2006.
FTM version history
Please press show for more information on past versions.
Family Tree Maker version history
Still supported (Update to the last patch for that version)
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.
^Flanagan, Peter (23 October 2012). "Genealogy giant sold for €1.2bn months after Dublin move". Irish Independent. Retrieved 1 August 2013. "It set up in Ireland last year but in July confirmed it would open its European headquarters on Sir John Rogerson's Quay in Dublin, and started taking on around 35 staff from September."
^ abHess, Kenneth Lafferty. "Home page of Kenneth Lafferty Hess". Archived from the original on 29 January 2011. Retrieved 29 December 2010. "During the 1990s I popularized computer genealogy by designing, developing, and selling the Family Tree Maker product line"
^Upgrade for FTM 3.0, 16 bit application compatible with Win95, From:John McGarvey, Date: 1996/02/09, alt.genealogy
^GEDCOM from Family Tree Maker, From:Paul Burchfield, Date: 1996/10/07, Exporting from Family Tree Maker for DOS uses the Data Exchange Utility. The DEU ships with Family Tree Maker version 3 and 4 for DOS. It had to be purchased separately for earlier versions., alt.genealogy
^Liste des applications testées sous Windows 95 – F et G - Family Tree Maker 2.0 (Windows floppies) Banner Blue Software<-- REMARQUE(S): Version 2.0 may not run correctly if taskbar setting is Always On Top. Windows 95 Help contains information for obtaining an update from the manufacturer. Family Tree Maker 3.0 (DOS) Banner Blue Software REMARQUE(S): The installation program may appear to stall after the first screen, but it is checking drives for previous copies of FTM.EXE, including network drives, and will resume after the check is complete. Family Tree Maker Deluxe 2.0 (Windows CD) Banner Blue Software REMARQUE(S): Program won't run when taskbar set to Always On Top. Windows 95 Help automatically provides a solution. -->
^Family Origins Newsletter, This will probably be the last issue of the Family Origins newsletter (I hear a lot of you saying "I thought you stopped writing it a long time ago <g>). As many of you know, we (FormalSoft) have been working on a new genealogy program called RootsMagic which we released in February 2002. Many of you have been using Family Origins since we first licensed it to Parsons Technology over 12 years ago. You have gone through all the company changes with us (Parsons, Intuit, Broderbund, The Learning Co. , Mattel, Genealogy.com)...As of January 2003, Genealogy.com has discontinued our Family Origins program...