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From the Presidents Desk - September 2019
Mark your Calendars! Free FHSA Workshop

Family History Society of Arizona invites you to a special morning of “Learning to using social media for genealogy”.

FIND LIVING RELATIVES * CONNECT WITH PEOPLE ACROSS THE OCEANS * FIND A FAMILY HEIRLOOM * FIND OLD PICTURES OF THE PLACES YOU AND YOUR ANCESTOR LIVED * CONNECT WITH OTHER GENEALOGISTS *

Bring a laptop, tablet or smart phone and practice what you learn.
When: Sep 28th 9am-12pm
Where: Mesa Inter-Stake Center at 830 E. 2nd Ave., Mesa, AZ 85204

Now for the interesting part...

There are interesting if strange things afoot at Ancestry.com. I am not saying it’s the end of the world as we know it but I believe things are a changing and where this will end up is for smarter people than me to determine. Now a partial timeline:

New CEO in 2018 (Marge Georgiadis)
Revenue flat over past 7 years apart from DNA tests.
DNA revenue appears to be flattening out
8/2019 Private Equity investors filed for $900,000,000 investor payout
8/2019 Ancestry.com announces new plan and focus into individualized medicine

I would like to focus on 2 of the above that lead me to believe change is in the air.

New health focused ambition:

Margo Georgiadis
“The company has largely refrained from stepping into the broader healthcare space — apart from a brief flirtation with an AncestryHealth product in 2015 — despite the success its rivals have achieved by leveraging genetic insights for pharmaceutical research and precision medicine. But now, Ancestry is building out a full health team, with open roles in marketing, engineering, communications, and senior management.”

I think that the new focus for AncestryDNA will be in the area of health and fitness. With the massive amount of DNA data they have collected this would/could give them a huge advantage in this space.

Investor Payout:
Ancestry has filed to take on 1.3 billion in new “junk” debt of which 900 million is scheduled to go directly to the big Equity firms that own Ancestry.com now. In my understanding this is a common way for investors to pull money out of a company that isn’t performing to their expectations. From the article:

“Both Moody’s and S&P Global Ratings lowered their outlook on the company in response to the latest dividend plans and a slowdown in revenue growth.

S&P said it will be difficult for the company to continue to grow revenues from its core subscription service at the same pace it did in the past, because of limitations on the size of the market and high churn.”

Sales are flat and DNA sales are flattening below projected amounts.

Do I think Ancestry.com will go away for us. No. But it is a private corporation and could go away at any time.
No company lasts forever.
I don’t mean to be negative but there is a lot to think about, especially if you put all your genealogical eggs in the same basket. Just consider:

What would you do and how would it affect you if Ancestry went away tomorrow?

Here are some suggestions to future proof yourself against the market and or corporate changes that might come in the future.

Use Ancestry.com, it’s a great resource and I am not advocating in any way to stop using it. I have “copies” of my trees on Ancestry.com and would never dream of telling you not to. I personally love Ancestry.com
Did you notice that I said “copies” of my trees in the above statement? If any online service is your primary research tool or storage, I recommend that you download any and all data and images to your own computer so if something happens to the service you still have the data.
Backing up all the data you downloaded is vital in case of accidental hardware failure etc.

I guess in a nutshell what I am saying is don’t put all your genealogy in one basket. It’s just too important and risky.

Feel free to contact me if there are any questions etc.

John Buck
President, FHSA

Reference Links:
https://casestone.com/threlkeld/blog/121-the-pending-reinvention-of-ancestry-com

https://www.businessinsider.com/ancestry-reveals-expansion-into-healthcare-2019-8

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/ancestry-com-owners-aim-extract-160436335.html

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