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Family history Web site joins AOL

Published: Thursday, Sept. 30 1999 12:00 a.m. MDT

Ancestry.com Inc., the Orem-based online family history resource, announced Wednesday that it has formed an alliance with America Online to increase its visibility in an increasingly crowded market.

"It's really a win-win situation," said Curt Allen, Ancestry.com president and chief executive officer. "They (AOL) are getting a lot of service and value from new customers, more people spending more time using their service. We have one of the stickiest Web sites on the Web. People come, they spend a lot of time, look at lots of pages and tell lots of people about us."And we, through this partnership with AOL, get access to customers who maybe haven't found our Web site yet."

Ancestry.com will become the primary genealogy link on AOL, AOL.COM, AOL Hometown and Netscape Netcenter. It also will be featured at the CompuServe Hobbies and Interests area.

Ancestry.com offers more than 274 million names in about 1,770 databases (many of them exclusive to Ancestry.com), along with historic maps, genealogy news and online genealogy publications.

Genealogy enthusiasts still will be able to access Ancestry.com regardless of their Internet service provider, Allen said. In addition to its relationship with AOL, he said the company is looking to build relationships with other providers to ensure ubiquitous access Webwide.

"In terms of online service providers, AOL is the biggest," Allen said. "Their reach is the broadest, and we wanted to align ourselves with the biggest provider. But there is no element of exclusivity with AOL. They're just a very important player."

AOL also was one of several Ancestry.com investors contributing to $33.2 million in venture financing announced in August.

"Genealogy has become one of the most popular hobbies online," Jonathan Sacks, senior vice president and general manager of AOL Interactive Services, said Wednesday in a prepared statement. "AOL members have shown an interest in tracing their family history, and this relationship with genealogy leader Ancestry.com gives our members access to the most comprehensive and valuable family history information available online."

Interest in family history has spiked over the past decade, a passion aided by Internet technology.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints this summer launched its own genealogy site, FamilySearch.org. Response reached a fevered pitch, overloading the system with 500 hits per second the first day.

Allen said he welcomes FamilySearch.org into the fold.

"We view the LDS Church as a great complementary partner. Our common goal is to make family history information available to people all over the world. We don't view them as competition at all."

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