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The Generations Network Acquired for $300 Million

Today it was announced that privately owned The Generations Network is being acquired by Spectrum Equity Investors for $300 million. The asking price was $500 million. The Generations Network is the company that runs Ancestry.com, MyFamily.com and other geneology web sites. It’s based in Provo, Utah.

Their last round of financing valued the company at $100 million. TechCrunch reports that they are making $150 million or so in yearly revenue and that they’ve heard the company is hugely profitable. But there have been chronic cycles of layoffs and morale has seemed low at the company for quite some time. A few months ago the the CFO was laid off and there were offers and speculation that a buyout was coming.

The most recent Comscore data says TGN had 8.2 million unique worldwide visitors in August. They’ve raised $95 million to date.

Spectrum, is a private equity firm based in Menlo Park and Boston, is a shareholder in The Generations Network since 2003. The company’s current management team will continue to lead the company.

I worked first for Infobases in college which was owned by Paul Allen and Dan Taggart, who later bought Ancestry.com. I left right before a major layoff. Several years later, I worked for Ancestry.com as a web developer. I still know a few people there but I haven’t kept in touch. Disgruntled affiliates have posted me about changes in their affiliate program that have taken it from a top performer to the trash in a pretty short time.

The company has been tight-lipped prompting people to start blogs to try to get news.

Paul Allen (not the Paul Allen who co-founded Microsoft), was one of the original owners of the company. He left the company in 2002 and founded genealogy startup – World Vital Records.

Allen will probably be putting money from the sale of his stock into WVR. He commented about the speculation that he and others won’t benefit from the sale, saying:

“The comments on techcrunch about founders not benefitting and liquidation preferences are assumptions that are not well founded…people always speculate and don’t really know the facts.”

There have been many web2.0 genealogy startups who’ve entered the space, including My Hertiage, Famillion, and Geni – none getting close to TGN yet.

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  • http://www.yoursearchadvisor.com/ Andrew Miller

    There are a lot of blogs, forums and reviews sites out there full of angry people that have been “ripped off” (their words, not mine) by these companies. Personally, my first encounter with Ancestry.com was when my credit card company called and said somebody had fraudulently charged about $400 on the site. I don’t think the company itself was involved but there are dozens, if not hundreds of people that have been fraudulently charged the same amount…to the penny.

    I am willing to believe that Ancestry.com is not behind these crimes, but I bet some of their affiliates are. This makes it Ancestry.com’s problem because that just the name on that transaction triggered the fraud alert with my bank. Not exactly a good reputation for any business.

    Maybe the new owners will figure out how to clean it up a little bit.

  • Fire Brian Morgan

    I will give you one name. Brian Morgan. He left TGN and now works for Interbank FX (ibfx.com). How long before IBFX fails?