In a late afternoon conference call today, Ancestry CEO Tim Sullivan and Archives.com Director of Product, Joe Godfrey, offered some additional details of the merger beyond what was mentioned in today's earlier announcement about the acquisition. Both seemed to be very candid and answered all questions that were posed.
Ancestry.com's primary goal for this acquisition is to increase its investment in the genealogy community. Since Archives.com's launch in January 2010, the site has rapidly grown to more than 380,000 paying subscribers who pay about $39.95 a year. Archives.com offers access to over 2.1 billion historical records, including birth records, obituaries, immigration and passenger lists, historical newspapers, and U.S. Censuses.
Tim Sullivan emphasized that Archives.com is a fast-growing business that has successfully put together family history profiles in a simple and affordable manner. Archives.com attracts a different customer base that should complement the existing Ancestry.com operation. The Archives.com business will continue to operate in much the same manner as before and will continue to serve its present customer base. Archives.com will also retain its own brand and website.
The two business units are not worried about overlap and "cannibalization" of the content offered. There may be some overlap, as there is now, but both sites will also continue to have somewhat different record sets. At this time, customers interact in two different manners with the two sites. There is no plan to make Archives.com a clone of Ancestry.com. Instead, Archives.com will continue to provide different search options, mostly different record sets, and a different value proposition to different users.
As to the efforts of the consortium presently indexing the 1940 U.S. census, the two organizations will continue their present (separate) efforts and will offer the 1940 census records in two different methods: Ancestry.com will continue to develop an outsourced index while Archives.com will continue to work in the consortium. Tim Sullivan emphasized that Ancestry.com and Archives.com will have very distinct offerings so using different indexes makes sense. There is no plan to combine the two indexes or to use the consortium-developed index on the Ancestry.com site.
One of the primary goals of the acquisition is to allow Archives.com achieve its goals faster than previously expected by leveraging the resources of Ancestry.com. In addition, Ancestry.com really likes what Archives.com has been doing in the genealogy world.
Ancestry.com will acquire Archives.com for $100 million in cash and assumed liabilities. Joe Godfrey and about 40 employees of Inflection/Archives.com will move over and become a part of Ancestry. However, the Archives.com team will remain together as a separate unit within Ancestry.com umbrella.
The official date of the acquisition will depend upon the speed of the regulatory review by the U.S. government. Until that date, the two companies will operate as separate businesses.
It was a fascinating telephone call in which I had a quick glimpse of how two separate, but overlapping, services plan to combine their teams and objectives to serve a broader audience than ever before.
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