Ancestry.com Announces New Venture With Tech Investor

Ancestry.com, a Utah-based family history and consumer genomics company worth an estimated $2.6 billion, announced two new investments Friday that company leaders say signals further worldwide interest in family history. Deseret News

PROVO — Ancestry.com, a Utah-based family history and consumer genomics company worth an estimated $2.6 billion, announced two new investments Friday that company leaders say signals further worldwide interest in family history.

Silver Lake, a private equity technology investor, and GIC, a current investor for Ancestry based in Singapore, both signed definitive agreements to acquire "substantial" equity stakes in the family history company, according to an Ancestry news release.

Details of the acquisition weren't released, but Silver Lake is now an equal minority investor with GIC, which has been with the company for more than three years, according to Ancestry President and CEO Tim Sullivan.

"To attract the world's leading technology investor to make such a significant commitment to our business and our category is just a terrific validation of our belief that family history is going to continue to grow," Sullivan said.

Ancestry's primary product and largest revenue source still comes from its more than 2.2 million subscribers, about one-third of whom live outside the U.S., who use Ancestry's various online family history services. Since 1996, the company has added about 17 billion digitized historical records, creating some 78 million family trees for users.

Consumer genomics, which uses DNA samples to help people gain insight into their heritage, accounts for much of the growth at Ancestry, which now has a bank of 1.5 million DNA samples. Since launching its genomics services in 2012, Ancestry is now the largest consumer genomics company in the world, according to Sullivan.

"This year and last year, we have seen an absolute explosion of interest in AncestryDNA," he said.

That interest is partly what appealed to Silver Lake as an investor, according to Stephen Evans, managing director at Silver Lake.

"Ancestry's rapidly expanding consumer DNA testing service has powerful network effects and widespread consumer appeal," Evans said in a prepared statement. "Ancestry has an exciting future, and we look forward to working alongside management as the company executes on its next phase of development."

Last year, Ancestry's revenue increased by 10.3 percent to $683.1 million, with "similar" growth coming this year, Sullivan said. Ancestry is also scheduled to relocate its headquarters from Provo to Lehi in May. The company employs roughly 1,000 people in Utah and hundreds more around the world.

Ancestry has partnered with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the church-owned FamilySearch.org in obtaining historical records and sharing resources. Church members currently have free access to Ancestry for their genealogy efforts.

"Our relationship with FamilySearch.com and the church has frankly never been stronger," Sullivan said. "We've really found wonderful ways to collaborate and cooperate."

Email: mjacobsen@deseretnews.com

Twitter: MorganEJacobsen

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Deseret News Mon, 05/02/2016 - 16:30