Huge Changes in the Genealogy Businesses

In a strange coincidence, two of the larger providers of genealogy information have announced new CEOs this morning:

Ancestry CEO Tim Sullivan is stepping down to become Chairman of the Board and is being replaced temporarily by the company’s CFO/COO Howard Hochhauser. The Ancestry Board of Directors is conducting an external search for CEO candidates.

FindmyPast has been operating for some time with an interim CEO but has now announced the appointment of Tamsin Todd to guide the company into the future. Former interim CEO, Jay Verkler, has been appointed Chairman of the Board.

What does this mean to the genealogy business and to individual genealogists? I have no idea. My crystal ball was sent out for polishing some time ago. However, I suspect there will be very few changes in the immediate future, to be followed by some major shifts in business plans and operations in 2018 and beyond. I would not be surprised to read about future acquisitions, mergers, and cooperative partnerships amongst the 4 or 5 largest players in this industry.

This should be fun to watch!

14 Comments

I foresee one of the big 2 buying the other at some point in the future…and whoever wins that battle will buy GenesReunited and its millions of records. I worry then that there will be no incentive to keep prices down, but OTOH, having them available in one place, instead of needing several different subscriptions, might be helpful. Might…I can just keep hoping for a big lottery win so I can start doing my overseas research in person instead of depending on Ancestry etc and writing to smaller records offices/holders.

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    Genesreunited is already owned by Findmypast’s parent company and has been for several years. The British Newspaper Archives records were made available to GR subscribers prior to FMP subscribers. I do hope that Ancestry and FMP never merge, as you say there would be no competition in the business to keep prices down and a would see a serious reduction in competition for improvements etc. Apart from the UK parish registers collections (excluding Norfolk of which are large number are now on all the main UK dedicated sites), we’ve already seen the other companies obtaining copies of some “exclusive” data collections once the initial exclusivity period has expired, and not just in relation to what is on Ancestry or FMP. That’s helped reduce the need to subscribe to some of the sites with less record sets such as TheGenealogist.

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Fun to watch?? I think not. This is called “show me the money” and/or “how much can we gouge the public in this era where family search is the “in” thing to do…

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Well, there’s still a couple of other kids left on the block (FamilySeach and My Heritage) to give them a run for the money.

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Ancestry and RootsTech both need to understand that there is a limit to how much people are willing to spend on this hobby. That applies to the vendors who attend RootsTech since it has been raising its prices to those vendors far above what many of them can afford to spend. I foresee Ancestry and RootsTech pricing themselves out of the market in the not too distant future. Better they learn from Parsons Technology which went with the approach of charging less to generate more customers.

I agree with the comment it won’t be fun to watch. Ancestry is headed for one or more large lawsuits for reasons that should be obvious to the incoming CEO. If the CEO doesn’t understand this point, they are going to be in for a rude awakening when it hits the fan. Maybe that’s why the exiting CEO left; he read the writing on the wall and decided to get out while the getting was good.

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Quality should be the goal now, and not to make more money. At this time the DNA craze has generated more frustration for true family researchers who want GOOD documentation rather than just pulling anything that “looks like” it might fit. Yes, they have attempted to make education available, rather than main streaming it. EDUCATION is important in order to make QUALITY the result. Sad state of genealogy for the sake of the mighty dollar.

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How about back to basics. Your local genealogy society, local library, state associations, your local government agencies, county historical societies to name few. Real genealogy should not be a “pay to play” business source, but true research. And no, I do not subscribe to the idea that genealogy is a “hobby”. Try some of the webinars, you will like it!

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My son just told me the University of Michigan library cannot afford an institutional subscription to Ancestry. Isn’t that ridiculous?

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    Considering how expensive institutional versions of Ancestry tend to run, I don’t blame them. Plus, you don’t get full access using the Academic version and you usually have to do it at a local library using either their computer or their Internet access, it has fairly limited value relative to its annual cost. Don’t be surprised if more educational and library sources currently offering Academic versions drop them if the present trend continues. As worthy as you may think such access is, libraries and educational libraries have to prioritize where they spend their money. Wait until the feds are forced to leave within a true balanced budget if you think it’s bad . That day is coming a lot sooner than your Congressional reps and sens expect. Hopefully Congress will then prioritize what it should be spending money on vs. all the unConstitutional spending that has been going on for decades.

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The Library edition of Ancestry cost my rural library $2,200. annually. That is not a “minor” cost. It has increased every year for the past 3 years. I cannot imagine what a University is charged.

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I used to enjoy genealogy but since ancestry has taken over FTM is no longer usable unless you drop 2014.1 and go to 2017, Greed has taken over.

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    There are more than a dozen first-rate genealogy programs to choose from. You are not locked into any one program that you don’t like. If you switch to a new and possibly better program, you might enjoy genealogy once again.

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I understand that gardening is the # 1 hobby with genealogy # 2. Why be in second place when you can get exercise and experience the great outdoors in gardening! Let Ancestry “eat dirt”. (see my previous post of 9/14).

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