Ancestry Delays IPO

This sounds like a ping-pong game. Ancestry first went public in 2009 on the NASDAQ Exchange with the ticker ACOM in a $100 million IPO. The company later went private through a $1.6 billion private equity acquisition in 2012 and was valued at $2.6 billion in an investment round last year. In June of this year, Ancestry said it had filed paperwork to go public once again.

Now Tim Sullivan has announced he is stepping down from the Ancestry CEO position and will instead become Chairman of the Board. (See the announcement published yesterday in this newsletter at http://bit.ly/2w5Xq4g.) In a related move, Sullivan also said that the recently-announced IPO will now be delayed.

The assumption can be made that the Board of Directors decided to wait until a new CEO is named and then will let him or her drive the IPO effort.

Ancestry has been growing rapidly in value but also has significantly increased expenses. The company recently moved into a new multi-million dollar headquarters in Lehi, Utah. It also maintains offices in Orem, Utah; Salt Lake City, Utah; and San Francisco, California; and maintains smaller offices in Dublin, Ireland; London, England; and Sydney, NSW, Australia. Ancestry’s headcount also has more than doubled, from 700 in 2009 to almost 1,600 employees today.

While Ancestry is seen as a “powerhouse” in the genealogy community, it is facing stiff competition in its newer DNA business with competitors Color Genomics (see http://cnb.cx/2xY1osf and http://www.color.com), and 23andMe (see http://www.23andme.com) getting big-time financial backers. Other companies, including MyHeritage and FamilyTreeDNA, also are direct competitors to Ancestry, offering both DNA and genealogy services bundled together.

It seems the new CEO will face some major business challenges.

4 Comments

All of that, and they still don’t respect copyrights or encourage members to use reliable sources and create accurate trees. And they’re overpriced.

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Not to mention their search function has definitely devolved over the years and gets worse and worse with each iteration!

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I haven’t used Ancestry for about a year and can’t say as I miss it… but then I didn’t switch liederhose (sp) for kilts.

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A new bean-counter doesn’t bode well for much needed changes such as more competent indexing and a chromosome browser for their DNA division. Both would add immense value but would hurt the bottom line, at least in the short term.

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