Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Who owns the genealogy companies? Part Five

One of the questions that has occurred to me recently is who is accumulating all of the huge amount of online genealogy resources. What would happen to all of the information if one of these larger companies were to cease operations for any reason? Central to that concern is the issue of who owns these companies. For that and many other reasons, I began an investigation of the ownership of several of the larger fee based genealogy companies. Here is the list of the companies I have examined so far:

We still have the following companies left to consider:

Next, we move on to  This is a first of the large companies I have considered outside of the United States. The official company description states: is a family history and genealogy website. Our offices are in London, England. We’re one of the leading suppliers of online family history, with an ever-growing collection of over 650 million family history records. We utilise the latest technology to bring your family’s past to life and make the process of tracing your family history easier and more enjoyable than ever.
The "official launch" of the online database took place on 1 April 2003. Since that beginning with birth, marriage and death records of England and Wales, the company now provides:
The company is relatively open about its ownership. Again, quoting from their website: is operated by Brightsolid Online Publishing Limited. Registered in England No.4369607.Registered Offices 185 Fleet Street, London, EH4A 2HS.
We are registered as a Data Controller with the Information Commissioner’s Office in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998: our registration number is Z6639808.
Our VAT registration no. is GB 927 167 212
In December 2007 we became part of  brightsolid (formerly Scotland Online), which also manages ScotlandsPeople.
 In 1995, brightsolid introduced Scotland Online and claims to be a leading UK independent provider of IT business services. brightsolid manages which is a partnership between the General Register Office for Scotland, the National Archives of Scotland and the Court of the Lord Lyon. In 2007, brightsolid acquired The company has a number of "strategic partnerships" with companies such as Microsoft and Oracle. 

Recently, the National Genealogical Society Conference in Salt Lake City provided the backdrop for a joint announcement by three leading players in the world genealogy market., Inc.’s WorldVitalRecords Australasian operation is to be taken over by leading UK family history website and run in partnership with Gould Genealogy & History of Australia. See newsrelease.


  1. Hi James,

    Ian from findmypast here. Just FYI, brightsolid online publishing have also recently acquired the FriendsReunited group, including which is the number 2 player in the UK market (behind brightsolid is 100% owned by DC Thomson, the family-owned media group, and most famous for being owner of the Beano comic.

  2. This is a fantastic series.

    I've had a couple of your posts in browser tabs, ready for an in-depth read, and find myself wishing for a category or label I can click in order to view all the posts in this series.

    I see you've got a bunch of labels in your right sidebar, but I don't see anything like GenealogyComanies or GenealogyCos or WhoOwnsGenealogyCompanies or somesuch.

    Would you be so kind as to label all the posts in this series... especially as the series continues to grow? (or, go back and put links in first to the next in the series, so I cam click from one to the next). Sorry to be such a picky, picky end user, but it's because I want to follow this series and read it all in one swell foop. I'm egotistical enough to figure that I'm not the only one. :)

  3. No mention of