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

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Who owns the genealogy companies? Part Two

It is very difficult to rank the size of genealogy companies because there is no real category in the business world for genealogy. In a real sense, the genealogy companies are all information and service companies. They either sell a service, such as printing charts, or information, like databases of source documents and indexes. Although is clearly the leader, second place is a little more problematical since has several large sub-brand names such as, their software program Family Tree Maker, and Rootsweb.

Without any regard to which is the next largest, here is a list of some of the larger companies:

WorldVitalRecords, Inc.
This large database indicates that it is a service of Familylink. Familylink describes itself as follows: 

By the Numbers

60 million users
500 million family connections
20 million monthly active users
Top Family Facebook application
1.2 billion indexed names
33 million answers
200k poll responses daily 

What We Do
FamilyLink provides the platform for the family social experience. Family members can create family generated content, preserve interactions, add historical content and communicate across a number of mediums.

FamilyLink's flagship application We're Related launched in 2007 and today has more than 60 million users making it a top family Facebook application. More than 20 million users use the product on a monthly basis.

FamilyLink also leverages its content relationships to provide valuable historical family content. Families can search over 1.2 billion names to find, tag and integrate ancestors.

FamilyLink's investors are vSpring Capital and several angel investors.

vSpring Capital is a traditional early-stage venture capital firm with over $400 million of committed capital under management. It has in its portfolio both and Familylink.

Familylink was founded by Paul Allen and is the Chairman of the Board. From the Familylink website:
Paul Allen has founded several companies in the consumer content and social space. He was the Founder and CEO of in 1997. He also launched in 1998, which became the fastest growing community site of its time. After an initial stint as CEO, Allen focused on internet marketing and strategy for several years, helping become one of the leading content subscription sites in the world. In 2002, Allen founded 10x Marketing, an internet marketing agency that was sold to Innuity in 2005. In 2004, he started, a fast-growing company that helps entrepreneurs through venture consulting. Since 2007, he has been 100% focused on his new company, He graduated from BYU with a degree in Russian in 1990. He is suffering from a serious addiction to his Blackberry, iPhone and Amazon Kindle.
I find it interesting that the Familylink Board of Directors includes Scott Petty of vSpring Capital. He is described by the Familylink site as follows:
Scott is a founding Managing Director of vSpring Capital, an early stage venture capital fund. Scott has led vSpring's investments in Alianza, Alpha Bay, Cerberian (acquired by Blue Coat Systems, NASDAQ:BCSI), comScore Networks (NASDAQ:SCOR), Control4, CrimeReports, FamilyLink, Infusionsoft, LignUp, SwarmBuilder, and Zonder. Prior to vSpring, Scott was COO and a Board Director of Zuka Juice. Under Scott's leadership, Zuka Juice grew from its first store to over 100 retail units and over 400 employees. Zuka Juice was acquired by Jamba Juice (NASDAQ:JMBA), a venture backed competitor. Before Zuka Juice Scott was a consultant with Bain & Company for seven years. At Bain he worked with many IT and non-IT companies, re-engineering their strategies for optimum results. Scott received a BS in Economics from Brigham Young University and a MBA from the Harvard Business School.
It is evident that both and have a common background and even share investors. By the way, is also part of Familylink.

Next, I will be moving on down the list.


  1. When you describe GenealogyBank.Com, please outline their relationship with NewspaperArchive.Com, if there is any. Thanks! I look forward to your continued work in this series.

  2. Re: your note that a member of a venture capital firm that invested in Familylink sits on its board of directors--

    In the world of venture capital, that is standard. Plunk a bunch or your money (&/or your investors' money) into a corp, and you do what you can to ensure that the company not only survives, but thrives and provides a good return on investment (ROI).

    So it's notable, but not surprising in the least. Would be more surprising if it weren't the case.

    (I don't know how much chafing there is with genealogy-based web properties wanting to exercise adequate control over the direction of their firms before the VC-based Board Director muscles the board to move in directions contrary to the founders visions, but in the world of high-tech startups, the tension between founders/VCs are a thing of legend.)

    In terms of estimating the size of a company, when you don't have access to companies' books, I wonder if presence of VC is a marker of some sort of the size of a firm. Then again, it's one thing to measure a private firm's valuation, and another thing to measure the size of its revenue. (Think: Twitter)

  3. Case in point: This blog post re:an article "Why I sold Zappos to" by the Zappos CEO is all about differences between the company's founders and the VC/Board members who're looking for their exit:

    How Sequoia Capital Forced Tony Hsieh to Sell Zappos

  4. i would be interested to know of any links between these people/organisations and the church of latter day saints