Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Should Google be interested in Ancestry.com?

DearREADERS,
CNN Money pointed me to a blog posting by wall street analyst, Jake Lynch titled Ancestry.com's Growth May Attract a Suitor, published 11/17/2010 at 6:30am. Citing 43% growth, "average revenue per subscriber expanded 7.7% to $17.75" and the doubling of quarterly free cash flow year-over-year to $20 million, Jake suggests "Although Ancestry is an outstanding stand-alone company, it would be an ideal target for a certain technology company with oodles of cash and a similar penchant for collecting information -- yes, Google." (GOOG)

As end-users of Ancestry.com, we turn to them for scanned images of historical documents and online family trees that facilitate collaboration among researchers. Would a move to Google ownership be good for Ancestry.com subscribers? I think it is hard to ignore Google's free apps for email, photo storage, calendars, and shared workspace, to name a few. Would this mean lower costs for viewing Ancestry.com record collections and indices? Would this mean additional resources to improve Ancestry.com search engine functionality?

What do my DearREADERS think about Google owning Ancestry.com(ACOM)?

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt     :)
DearMYRTLE,
Your friend in genealogy.

7 comments:

  1. Yes! Finally! A decent search engine for Ancestry's holdings!!!
    Doris

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  2. Myrt

    I think that if Google were to acquire Ancestry, there would be free access to the data and no subscription - this fits the "abundance" model of Google.

    However, whereas right now there are no advertisements (besides those from Ancestry.com) behind Ancestry's paywall, get set for a Google environment where there are many ads which is how Google makes money.

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  3. I surely hope so. May I point my DearREADERS to your blog post on the topic, which hit the blogosphere about 5 minutes before my posting.

    http://www.geneabloggers.com/ancestry-google-marriage/

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  4. It would be a great asset for the genealogy community. The cost of membership in Ancestry is far to high and I would think that if acquired by Google the cost would be less.

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  5. Well, I'd prefer ads to the cost of a subscription, to be honest.

    I like Google and I like Ancestry, but I'm not sure how I feel about seeing them marry. Back in my corporate days, I did a lot of post-merger integration work. It's hard. Google doesn't always do such a great job of integrating its purchases in a timely manner.

    That said, to be able to use Google-like search techniques on Ancestry would make my life 62% easier.

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  6. It's hard for me to imagine Google charging for general access if they acquired Ancestry. They don't have any fee-based services currently, and it would be their general philosophy - simimlar to GoogleBooks. However, fees would have to remain for AncestryDNA, just because there is a service cost involved there.

    I think there might conceivably be some privacy uproars if some AncestryData started appearing in Google searches. There are lots of people who have no clue what information is readily available.

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  7. Ancestry.com has been considered one of the most attractive targets for takeover anywhere for some time. Their long-term prospects are astounding. I think the question is not if Ancestry.com is swallowed up by someone outside of the genealogy word, but when it will happen.

    For several months I have personally considered Google to be the most benign of the options in terms of an owner for Ancestry.com. However, as pervasive as we consider Ancestry.com to be and as attractive as their financials are, even their phenomenal numbers represent barely an accounting error compared to a company like Google's. There's nothing to suggest that this deal is even on Google's radar screen, and the challenges in changing Ancestry.com's business model to reflect one more in keeping with Google's philosophy are pretty huge.

    Is Google interested in acquiring so much niche content as opposed to general content? It's difficult to point to any other activity by them indicating they absolutely are. Google has been very consistent in its acquisitions in terms of their long-term strategy, and while there are synergies, I suspect such speculation is based more upon wishful thinking than reality.

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