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Deal Radar 2009: Ancestry.com

Posted on Monday, Aug 10th 2009

You may not be able to choose your family, but with Ancestry.com you have a better chance of finding them. Ancestry.com is a site dedicated to helping users find information about their family history. Subscribers to the site can search historical record collections, organize their family history, create profiles for each family member, and upload personal photos and documents for safekeeping. Members can also invite others to share and contribute to their family tree. The site has access to over 24,000 historical databases that include five billion names.

Ancestry.com has been in the online business for over a decade; its network of sites includes Genealogy.com, Myfamily.com, Rootsweb.com, TGN.com, FamilyTreeMaker.com and Ancestrymagazine.com. The company started out in 1984 when it first published family history books and spread its online wings in 1997. In 2010, it may introduce a TV show called “Who Do You Think You Are?”. The BBC launched a similar show in 2006. The company was originally called The Generations Network, but it recently changed its name to capitalize on its most popular brand.

In 2007 Ancestry.com sold $300 million worth of equity to Spectrum Equity Investors, a communications business, for a 67% stake in the company. Although the Provo, Utah-based company did not confirm this, according to paidContent Ancestry.com raised $95 million in three rounds of funding prior to 2007.

Some of Ancestry.com’s services are free, and it offers potential subscribers a free two-week trial. Subscribers pay a fee to use the site’s premium offerings, which include historical records and billions of photographs and documents. Subscriptions range from $12.95 per month to $29.95 per month with an average of $16.50 per subscriber per month. The site boasts of approximately one million subscribing members and 14 million registered users who have created 3 million family trees, uploaded 275 million photos and attached 30 million family history records.

After a period during which there were hardly any IPOs on the horizon, there is finally a glimmer of hope — Ancestry has filed for a $75 million IPO backed by Morgan Stanley and Bank of America Merrill Lynch. According to their SEC filing, for the past six months, Ancestry.com has revenues of $99.9 million with a profit of $8.18 million. Aside from Spectrum with its 67% stake, other investors include Crosslink Capital with 6.2%; W Capital Partners with 6.1% and Sorenson Media with 5.9%.

There are several other companies in the family history business. We covered one of these sites, Geni, in 2007, soon after it had received a $10 million investment and $100 million valuation. Some rivals, such as MyHeritage, USGenWeb Project, RootsWeb and FamilySearch, offer similar services free.

Recommended Readings:
Deal Radar 2008: Geni
Geni: Addictive, Yes, But $100 Million Valuation?
Deal Radar 2008: Blurb

This segment is a part in the series : Deal Radar 2009


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