First on the list is Ancestry.com.
Back in 1987, Curt Allen, and his brother-in-law Brad Pelo, both students at Brigham Young University, founded a company called Folio Corporation to publish content on local area networks, and on digital CD-ROMs for use on desktop computers. Wikipedia. In 1990 Paul Allen and Dan Taggart, two graduates of BYU, created Infobases, Inc., and began offering LDS publications on computer floppy disks. They chose to use Folio Views as their infobase indexing and presentation technology that Allen was familiar with, having worked at Folio Corporation since that company's founding in 1987. Following Folio Corporation in all of is corporate changes is a prime example of the path most of these Internet startup companies have followed. Folio Corporation was purchased by MDC LexisNexis in 1993, then the company was purchased by Open Market in 1997, then to NextPage in 1999, to Fast Search in 2004, Microsoft in 2008 and is presently owned by Rocket Software since 2009.
Western Standard Publishing was formed in 1997 and provides online services to its partners World Book Encyclopedia and Encyclopaedia Britannica. Western Standard Publishing is listed as the parent company of Infobases, Inc. In 1997, Western Standard Publishing purchased Ancestry.com, the publisher of Ancestry magazine and genealogy books. Ancestry magazine began as a small genealogy based newsletter in 1984. Ancestry Magazine has recently ceased publication. Quoting from Answers.com:
In July 1997, Allen and Taggart purchased Western Standard's interest in Ancestry, Inc. At the time, Brad Pelo was president and CEO of Infobases, and president of Western Standard. Less than six months earlier, he had been president of Folio Corporation, whose digital technology Infobases was using. In March, 1997, Folio was sold to Open Market for $45 million. The first public evidence of the change in ownership of Ancestry Magazine came with the July/August 1997 issue, which showed a newly reorganized Ancestry, Inc., as its publisher. That issue's masthead also included the first use of the Ancestry.com web address.
There doesn't seem to be much online about how Western Standard became the "parent company" of Infobase. But in 1997, Ancestry.com began to operate separately from Infobase and began creating an online subscription based, genealogy database service. Following acquisition of Bookcraft, Inc., a book publishing company, the owners began running Ancestry Inc. independently from Infobases. In 1998, Ancestry.com also started a website called MyFamily.com and ultimately, in 1999 changed its name from Ancestry.com to MyFamily.com. It then began another major website called FamilyHistory.com. MyFamily acquired Encounter Technologies in 2006. Late in 2006, the company changed its name to The Generations Network and then in 2009 changed its name back to Ancestry.com. In 2010, Ancestry.com sold its book publishing interests to Turner Publishing.
Presently, all of the links in MyFamily.com referring to "About Us" are directed to Ancestry.com which describes itself as follows:
Ancestry.com is the world’s largest online resource for family history, with more than one million paying subscribers around the world as of December 2009. Since starting as publishing company in 1983, we have been a leader in the family history market for over 20 years and have helped pioneer the market for online family history research. We believe that most people have a fundamental desire to understand who they are and from where they came, and that anyone interested in discovering, preserving and sharing their family history is a potential user of Ancestry.com. We strive to make our service valuable to individuals ranging from the most committed family historians to those taking their first steps towards satisfying their curiosity about their family stories.
Click on this link to find out more information about Ancestry.com corporate.
Ancestry.com, like most web based businesses, continues to rapidly evolve. Anything you say about it will likely change in the near future except that it will likely get larger. Now, all the above said, who owns Ancestry.com today? Back in 2007, investment headlines said that Ancestry.com was being acquired by Spectrum Equity Investors which also owns/invests in companies like AMC, CellularOne, and many others. Quoting from CrunchBase:
Founded in 1994, Spectrum Equity Investors have raised five investment funds representing $4 billion of private equity capital. They seek opportunities in businesses with common economic characteristics: recurring revenue, significant operating leverage, healthy operating margins, strong free cash flow, and franchise customer loyalty. Their investment activity is focused on business services, entertainment, communications, information services, media, and related growth sectors.Other investors in Ancestry.com include Sorenson Media, CMGI@Ventures and EsNet Group. See paidContent.org.
The companies in which they invest are leaders in their industries, have well-established business models, are run by experienced management teams, and have significant opportunities for future growth either organically, through acquisition, or both. Their investment activity includes private companies, public companies, and divisions of larger companies. They invest, either as a minority or majority investor, providing equity capital in a wide variety of transactions