Archive | Genealogy Industry

23 September 2010 ~ 1 Comment

Is the Ancestry Footnote Merger Good for Genealogy?

question

In a press release announcement made earlier today, Ancestry.com Inc. intends to acquire iArchives Inc., the parent company to Footnote.com, a popular research website for genealogists. While at first glance it appears that this merger is a good “match,” it does bring forth many questions as to Ancestry’s reasons for the acquisition, what impact the merger will have on the genealogy industry, and how it will affect both the casual entry-level family historian as well as the professional genealogist.

Personally, I think the acquisition is a good move, one that makes sense, and it is in line with recent Ancestry acquisitions.  Here’s why:

  • Content: there is value in the content that Footnote already has on its site and while there is some overlap – particularly with some US Census records – much of it is unique.  Enough so that many genealogists currently have memberships with both Ancestry and Footnote.
  • Indexing and Search Engine Experrise: Ancestry wins in this arena. A common complaint among Footnote users was the difficulty in locating information and the resulting records.
  • Technology: Footnote was the winner here and now this makes Ancestry a winner. Footnote’s records were always clearer and easier to read.  The technology and expertise used to digitize records is probably the greatest value to Ancestry in this deal.
  • Marketing: you can’t argue against Ancestry’s marketing machine and it is not easy to work against it.

Concerns and Questions

Despite what seems like a win-win situation for all players in the genealogy industry – from consumer to vendor – there are some issues which must be tackled:

  • Will there be a combined membership to both Ancestry and Footnote or will they remain as separate products.  Keep in mind that Ancestry is acquiring iArchives, the parent to Footnote.  What plans Ancestry has for accessing the Footnote content remain to be seen. The content could be merged into Ancestry’s current library of database or kept separate and somehow cross-referenced.
  • If the focus is on content and its back-end technology more than acquiring Footnote’s 35,000 subscribers, does it mean that Footnote disappears? Will Footnote subscribers be offered dual-membership to both sites for a time period? Will Footnote become another Ancestry acquisition like Genealogy.com and kept on only in a shell of its former self?
  • What about some of the popular functions on Footnote such as the Person Page or annotation of Census records? Will Ancestry incorporate the Person Page concept or elements of it for their own site?
  • Are there concerns that there is not enough competition in the genealogy industry in terms of content providers?

Who’s Next on the Ancestry Radar?

While speculation is kind of fun, with Ancestry’s recent shopping spree the topic is more serious than you think.  An obvious target would be FamilyLink.com and its World Vital Records holdings. Another would be GenealogyBank or Newspaper Archives.com which have excellent newspaper collections.

Of course this is a world of eat or be eaten, too.  There’s no reason that Ancestry itself couldn’t be a target. Rumors of Google acquiring Ancestry have been around ever since it went public in November 2009. Google in the genealogy business? Not exactly – but Google is in the information business and with its ever-expanding content, that is what abounds at Ancestry.

©2010, copyright Thomas MacEntee

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23 September 2010 ~ 1 Comment

Ancestry.com Inc. to Acquire iArchive Inc. and Footnote.com

ancestry.com inc. footnote.com

This news has been received from Ancestry.com Inc. via press release:

ANCESTRY.COM INC. TO ACQUIRE IARCHIVES

Leading Brand for American Historical Content

PROVO, Utah, September 23, 2010 – Ancestry.com Inc. (Nasdaq: ACOM) announced today it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire iArchives, Inc. and its branded Web site, Footnote.com, a leading American History Web site, for approximately $27 million in a mix of Ancestry.com stock, cash and assumption of liabilities.  This acquisition will provide the company with a complementary consumer brand, expanded content offerings, and enhanced digitization and image-viewing technologies.

iArchives digitizes and delivers high-quality images of American historical records of individuals involved in the Revolutionary War, Continental Congress, Civil War, and other US historical events to Footnote.com subscribers interested in early American roots. iArchives has digitized more than 65 million original source documents to date through its proprietary digitization process for paper, microfilm and microfiche collections.

“Footnote.com is highly complementary to Ancestry.com’s online family history offering,” said Tim Sullivan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Ancestry.com. “By promoting Footnote to our Ancestry audience, we hope to expand its reach among researchers who care about early American records. iArchives also brings outstanding image-viewing technology and content digitization capabilities that will improve our leadership position in bringing valuable historical records to the market. We welcome the iArchives team to the Ancestry.com family.”

Upon completion of the transaction, iArchives will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ancestry.com. As part of the transaction, Ancestry.com currently expects to issue approximately 1.0 million shares of common stock. The transaction is subject to various closing conditions and is expected to close early in the fourth quarter of 2010.

Ancestry.com also announced today that its Board of Directors has approved a share repurchase program of up to approximately $25 million of its common stock. Under the authorization, share repurchases may be made by the Company from time to time in the open market or through privately negotiated transactions depending on market conditions, share price and other factors and may include accelerated or forward or similar stock repurchases and/or Rule 10b5-1 plans. Part of the rationale for the repurchase is to offset dilution of equity resulting from the iArchives acquisition. No time limit was set for the completion of this program. The share repurchase program may be modified or discontinued at any time by the Board of Directors.

About Ancestry.com

Ancestry.com Inc. (Nasdaq: ACOM) is the world’s largest online family history resource, with approximately 1.3 million paying subscribers. More than 5 billion records have been added to the site in the past 13 years. Ancestry users have created more than 19 million family trees containing over 1.9 billion profiles. Ancestry.com has local Web sites directed at nine countries, including its flagship Web site at www.ancestry.com.

About iArchives

iArchives is a leading digitization service provider that also operates Footnote.com, a subscription Web site that features searchable original documents, providing over 35,000 paying subscribers with a view of the events, places and people that shaped the American nation and the world. At Footnote.com, all are invited to come share, discuss, and collaborate on their discoveries with friends, family, and colleagues. For more information, visit www.footnote.com.

Forward-looking Statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements. These statements relate to future events or to future financial performance and involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties, and other factors that may cause our actual results, levels of activity, performance, or achievements to be materially different from those anticipated in these forward-looking statements. In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements by the use of words such as “appears,” “may,” “designed,” “expect,” “intend,” “focus,” “seek,” “anticipate,” “believe,” “estimate,” “predict,” “potential,” “should,” “continue” or “work” or the negative of these terms or other comparable terminology. These statements include statements concerning among other things, the proposed transaction between Ancestry.com and iArchives, Inc., including the consummation and anticipated timing of the transaction as well as the expected benefits of the proposed transaction, and the effects of the proposed transaction on Ancestry.com, our subscriber base, our reach, our activities to enhance subscribers’ experience, our business outlook, our leadership position and our opportunities and prospects for growth.  These forward-looking statements are based on information available to us as of the date of this press release. Forward-looking statements involve a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated by these forward-looking statements. Such risks and uncertainties include a variety of factors, some of which are beyond our control. In particular, such risks and uncertainties include the risk that the transaction does not close when anticipated, or at all; difficulties encountered in integrating acquired businesses and retaining customers, and the additional difficulty of integration when continuing the acquired operation; the adverse impact of competitive product announcements; failure to achieve anticipated revenues and operating performance; changes in overall economic conditions; the loss of key employees; competitors’ actions; pricing and gross margin pressures; inability to control costs and expenses; and significant litigation.

Information concerning additional factors that could cause results to differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements is contained under the caption “Risk Factors” in our Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarterly period ended June 30, 2010, and in discussions in other of our SEC filings.

These forward-looking statements should not be relied upon as representing our views as of any subsequent date and we assume no obligation to publicly update or revise these forward-looking statements for any reason, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise.

©2010, copyright Thomas MacEntee

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29 August 2010 ~ 12 Comments

Is There a Perceived Age Demographic in Genealogy?

We all know of serendipity when it comes to genealogy – how things just “fall into place” or how we seem guided by an ancestor in our search for family history.  I also believe something called a “genealogy wavelength” – meaning there are some in the genealogy community who are doing the same type of analyzing and processing of information at the same time.

Carol over at iPentimento and I either made the same observation recently or we are just sending each other telepathic signals across the miles.  We are both wondering if there isn’t a perceived age demographic in the genealogy industry and perhaps even an age bias involved.

The Article Says One Thing . . .

My thoughts formed last night as I was reading the latest issue of Family Tree Magazine (November 2010) and specifically a great article entitled Closing the Generation Gap. In the article, five genealogists ranging from ages 13 to 26 are interviewed and share their thoughts about the genealogy industry and working within that industry as someone way below the age demographic.

But Do The Ads Say Another?

And while I read the article, I notice there were four full-page ads in this issue of Family Tree magazine from a company called firstSTREET (their byline is “for Boomers and Beyond®”). On page 42 is an ad with the headline, “Are you in love with your home, but afraid of your staircase?” Yes, it is for one of those chair lifts you install along the stairwell.

Over on Page 47 is a smiling woman selling another firstSTREET product – this time it is a chair lift for a bathtub.  And finally on page 57, is a “New medical alarm can save you money, . . . and save your life!” again from firstSTREET. And oh, I almost forgot.  On page 59 is an ad for a cell phone with oversized buttons from – guess who? – right, firstSTREET.

I do think that firstSTREET is targeting an older market and is smart to advertise in genealogy magazines like Family Tree Maker.  The fact is that most readers of genealogy magazines are in the Baby Boomer age group.

Are Genealogists That Old?

Or perhaps they just fall down quite a bit.  I know I do – for a variety of reasons – and sometimes out of sheer joy of finding an ancestor! But seriously, what is the age demographic for genealogists?

My observations may seem overly influenced by my social media activity but the fact is I do get out of the house occasionally. In fact, I think I’ve been to nine genealogy events and conferences – all out of town – since June! Here’s what I see:

  • At conferences the demographic is mostly women (70%) and mostly age 50 and above. This includes various national and regional conferences that I have attended over the past year.
  • When certain topics are discussed in presentations – topics such as social media or facebook – the age bar comes down a bit but not as much as you think!  While the age 55 and above group makes up a small percentage of Facebook users, it is due to concerns over privacy that this group attends sessions about Facebook so they can learn how to use the program safely.
  • When social media is involved at a genealogy event, most of the users and proponents are under the age of 55.

So What Is The Age Demographic for Genealogy?

Is it perceived or actual? How is it measured? Many questions come up especially when using personal observations – it depends on your own demographic.  I find that attendees at conferences tend to interact with others in their same age group.  When interaction does cross age groups, often it is to comment on either how young/old the other person is or to comment on how they do their genealogy. By this I mean whether they use social media and online research, or if they are doing all their work at repositories and without the use of a computer.

You’re Only As Old As You Feel

What I’d love to see evolve over the course of the next five years in terms of age demographics and genealogy is this: not so big a divide in the under and over-55 age groups when it comes to technology.

I think that both age groups of genealogists have much to offer each other: the younger set should not shut out older genealogists and write them off as “dinosaurs” or “luddites” who refuse to learn and use technology. The older set should not dismiss younger genealogists as less than serious because they choose to use social media to expand their genealogy research and experience.

So I think there should be a strong focus on the “technology” demographic rather than the “age” demographic in the genealogy industry.

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Disclosure: I am a writer for Family Tree Magazine and receive compensation for my submissions.  Read all my material connections with genealogy vendors here.

©2010, copyright Thomas MacEntee

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