Ancestry buys Archives.com to expand family history industry

Published: Wednesday, April 25 2012 5:02 p.m. MDT

Tim Sullivan, chief executive officer for Ancestry.com, introduces talks about the future of family history industry at the RootsTech convention in Salt Lake. Sullivan says the Archives.com deal will help diversify product offerings for customers and expand the family history industry.

Joey Ferguson, Deseret News

Enlarge photo»

Ancestry.com Inc., the world’s largest online genealogy Internet site, said it will buy Archives.com for $100 million to diversify its product offerings for customers and expand the family history industry.

The deal will allow Provo-based Ancestry to reach a specific part of the market that Archives was able to acquire, Ancestry CEO Tim Sullivan said in a telephone interview. The company will pay cash and assume liabilities.

“We want there to be a lot of different choices for users of different tastes and experiences,” Sullivan said. “This doesn’t lessen a choice for family history consumers. It only increases it because we have the resources to really invest pretty aggressively in this new business.”

Sullivan and Matt Monahan, CEO and co-founder of Inflection, the parent company of Archives.com, both said the services of the complementary companies were a good fit.

“We are proud of the experience we’ve built with Archives.com and believe strongly in its future potential,” Monahan said in a statement. “Combining with Ancestry.com positions Archives.com to best capitalize on that potential, pairing complementary visions of the marketplace and the opportunity. We’re excited to see how this transaction expands the reach of family history to an even larger audience.”

The acquisition will also help strengthen Ancestry’s connection with FamilySearch.org and the U.S. National Archives because of the relationship Archives has with the two organizations, Sullivan said.

Recently, Archives partnered with the National Archives to provide free digital access to the 1940 U.S. Census that was released this month.

Archives, which was launched in January 2010, has amassed 380,000 paying subscribers. The Redwood City, Calif.-based company will continue to operate separately from Ancestry and retain its brand and website.

More than 2.1 billion records are found on Archive’s website, including birth records, obituaries and U.S. and U.K. censuses.

Sullivan said the company will bring 40 employees from Archives to Ancestry with no layoffs. Ancestry will likely add to the recently acquired company too, he said.

The Archives employees will be working from Ancestry’s San Francisco office, but this isn’t a move toward moving operations to the San Francisco Bay area, Sullivan said.

“We are definitely based here,” Sullivan said about the Utah headquarters. “I can say that with no debate. We have continued to hire very actively in both markets and continue to have a majority of our U.S. based employees here.”

More than 800 of Ancestry’s 1,100 employees are based at the company’s Provo headquarters. The company plans to hire between 50 and 70 new tech employees in Utah in 2012.

Ancestry’s strategy is about operating multiple brands in order to provide products and services that fit the needs of varying skill levels, Sullivan said.

Archives joins the ranks of other companies acquired by Ancestry, including Footnote.com, Genealogy.com and RootsWeb.

This acquisition is Ancestry’s largest to date, Sullivan said.

“We’ve been opportunistic but also picky,” Sullivan said. “There are a lot of players that have been in the space a long time. This is not a strategy to buy anybody that starts a family history business.”

Archives’ leadership team will continue to work on Archives under Ancestry. Joe Godfrey, senior director of product management at Archives, will continue to manage the company under Eric Shoup, executive vice president of products at Ancestry.

EMAIL: jferguson@desnews.com

TWITTER: @joeyferguson

Get The Deseret News Everywhere

Subscribe

Mobile

RSS