The Generations Network


The Generations Network

Infobox Company
company_name = The Generations Network
company_type = Private
company_
foundation = 1983
location = Provo, Utah, United States
key_people = Tim Sullivan, President and CEO [cite news | url=http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=104&STORY=/www/story/09-19-2005/0004110060&EDATE= | title=MyFamily.com names Tim Sullivan as President and CEO | work=PRNewswire | date=2005-09-15 accessdate=2008-04-21]
num_employees = ~1300 worldwide (2006)
revenue = US$150 million
industry = Family history, Genealogy, Kinship and descent
products = Family Tree Maker genealogy software, online subscriptions, related books, Ancestry Magazine
homepage = [http://www.tgn.com/ www.tgn.com]

The Generations Network is an Internet company based in Provo, Utah and the largest for-profit genealogy company in the world.cite news | date=2004-04-22 | accessdate=2007-04-13 | url=http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9807E3D8163AF931A15757C0A9629C8B63&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=print | title= From Shared Resources, Your Personal History | author=Peter Wayner | work=The New York Times] They run a growing network of genealogy and family-related websites, listed below.

In addition to their main sites, The Generations Network operates FamilyHistory.com, which contains basic information for free, but mostly serves as a portal to Ancestry.com. [cite web|url=http://www.familyhistory.com/|title=FamilyHistory.com|accessdate=2006-12-26] They also publish "Ancestry Magazine" and formerly published "Genealogical Computing" before the magazine ceased publication in 2006. They have a presence in the United Kingdom under the name The Generations Network Ltd., whose offices are located in Hammersmith, London, England and Munich, Germany.cite web | url=http://www.myfamilyinc.com/default.aspx?html=contact | title=Contact MyFamily | accessdate=2006-12-26] cite web | url=http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2006/12/ancestrycom_exp.html | title=Ancestry.com Expands Its Scotland Census Collection | work=Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter | date=2006-12-01 | accessdate=2007-04-13]

History

Infobases, Inc.

In 1990, Paul Allen and Dan Taggart, two BYU graduates, founded Infobases and began offering LDS publications on floppy disks. Allen's brother, Curt Allen, and his brother-in-law, Brad Pelo, had founded Folio Corporation, where Paul Allen had worked in 1988. Infobases chose to use the Folio infobase technology that Allen was familiar with as the basis for their products. The first products were floppy disks and compact disks sold from the back seat of their car. Recognition came in 1994 when Infobases was named among Inc. Magazine's 500 fastest-growing companies. [cite news|title = Backing into a lucrative business|publisher = Deseret News|date = June 11, 2000] Their first offering on CD was the LDS Collectors Edition, released in April, 1995, selling for $299.95, [cite news|title = Let a mouse guide your scripture search|publisher = Deseret News|date = April 3, 1995] which was offered in an on-line version in August, 1995. [cite news|title = LDS Materials Available Online|publisher = Deseret News|date = August 3, 1995]

Ancestry.com

On January 1, 1997, Infobases parent company, Western Standard Publishing, purchased Ancestry, Inc. [cite web |url= http://www.westernstandard.com/about.htm|title= About Western Standard Publishing|accessdate= 2008-09-21] , publisher of "Ancestry Magazine" and genealogy books. Founded in 1983 by John Sittner as a genealogy newsletter, "Ancestry Magazine" had been launched in January, 1994. Western Standard Publishing's CEO was Joe Cannon, one of the principal owners of Geneva Steel. [cite news|title = Genealogy business booms as boomers seek out roots|publisher = Deseret News|date = April 5, 1997]

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. [cite news|title = Western Standard sells interest in business magazine to Utah County man|publisher = Deseret News|date = June 4, 1997] 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.

More growth for Infobases occurred in July, 1997 when Ancestry, Inc. purchased Bookcraft, Inc., a publisher of books authored by leaders and officers of the LDS church. [cite news|title = Infobases acquires LDS publishing house|publisher = Deseret News|date = July 1, 1997] [cite news|title = Happily joined|publisher = Deseret News|date = April 5, 1998] Infobases had published many of Bookcraft's books as part of its LDS Collector's Library. Pelo also announced that Ancestry's product line would be greatly expanded in both CDs and online. Alan Ashton, a longtime investor in Infobases, and founder of WordPerfect, was its chairman of the board. Allen and Taggart began running Ancestry, Inc. independently from Infobases in July, 1997, and began creating one of the largest online subscription-based genealogy database services.cite web | url=http://www.infobaseventures.com/our_companies.html | archiveurl=http://web.archive.org/web/20070528152733/http://www.infobaseventures.com/our_companies.html | title=Infobase Ventures Portfolio Companies | publisher=Infobase Ventures| archivedate=2007-05-28 | accessdate=2008-04-21]

In April 1999, to better focus on its Ancestry.com and MyFamily.com Internet businesses, Infobases sold the Bookcraft brand name and its catalog of print books to its major competitor in the LDS book market, Deseret Book. Included in the sale were the rights to Infobases' LDS Collector's Library on CD. A year earlier, Deseret Book had released a competing product called GospeLink, and the two products were combined as a single product by Deseret Book. [cite news|title = Deseret Book parent announces plans to acquire Bookcraft|publisher = Deseret News|date = February 9, 1999] [cite news|title = Acquisition of Bookcraft finalized|publisher = Deseret News|date = April 1, 1999]

The MyFamily.com website launched in December, 1998, with additional free sites beginning in March, 1999. [cite web|url=http://trends.masie.com/archives/1999/03/110_updates_on.html|title=MyFamily.com begins offering free sites|date=1999-03-11|accessdate=2006-12-26] The site generated 1 million registered users within its first 140 days. The company raised more than US$90 million in venture capital from investors and changed its name on November 17, 1999 from Ancestry.com, Inc., to MyFamily.com, Inc. Its three Internet genealogy sites were then called Ancestry.com, MyFamily.com, and FamilyHistory.com. [cite news|title = Ancestry.com, Inc. Changes Corporate Name to MyFamily.com, Inc.|publisher = Ancestry.com|date = November 17, 1999] Sales for 2002 were about US$62 million, and those for 2003 were US$99 million.cite web|url=http://www.paulallen.net/my-companies/ | title=My Companies: A Chronological View of My Entrepreneurial Endeavors | author=Paul Allen | publisher=paulallen.net | date=2006-05-20|accessdate=2008-04-21]

In March 2004, the company opened a new call center in Provo as a result of outgrowing their old call center in Orem. The new call center accommodates about 700 agents at a time. [cite news | url=http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,595055685,00.html|title=MyFamily growing in Utah | work=Deseret News | date=2004-04-13|accessdate=2008-04-21] Heritage Makers was acquired by Ancestry.com in September 2005, [cite news | url=http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/micro_stories.pl?ACCT=147509&TICK=MYFAM&STORY=/www/story/09-21-2005/0004112253&EDATE=Sep+21,+2005 | title=Acquisition of Heritage Makers | work=PRNewswire | date=2005-09-21 | accessdate=2008-04-21] and sold a year later in August, 2006.Fact|date=February 2007 The Ancestry.ca website was opened on January 24, 2006. [cite web|url=http://myfamily.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=press_releases&item=57|title=Release of Ancestry.ca|date=2006-01-24|accessdate=2006-12-26] In March 2006, MyFamily opened a new office in Bellevue, Washington as part of the MyFamily business unit. [cite web|url=http://myfamily.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=press_releases&item=59|title=Bellevue, Washington office opened|date=2006-03-23|accessdate=2006-12-26] Encounter Technologies was acquired in April, 2006. [cite web| url=http://announcements.eogn.com/2006/04/myfamilycom_inc.html | title=MyFamily.com acquires Encounter Technologies | date=2006-04-27| accessdate=2006-12-26]

On December 19, 2006, the company changed its name to "The Generations Network."cite web|url=http://myfamily.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=43&item=77|title=MyFamily.com, Inc. Changes Corporate Name to The Generations Network|date=2006-12-19|accessdate=2006-12-26] While the company had been offering free access to Ancestry.com at LDS Family History Centers, that service was terminated on March 17, 2007 because of the inability to reach a mutually-agreeable licensing agreement between TGN and the LDS Church. Recently, however, service was reinstated at several of the larger Family History Centers.cite web | author=Dick Eastman | url=http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2007/03/ancestrycom_ter.html | title=Ancestry.com Terminates Free Access in Family History Centers | work=Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter | date=2007-03-18 | accessdate=2007-03-31]

Products and services

Ancestry.com

Ancestry.com is a subscription-based genealogy research website with over 5 billion records online and more being added almost daily. [cite web|url=http://www.ancestry.com/search/rectype/recent.aspx|title=Genealogy Databases Posted or Updated Recently|accessdate=2006-06-20] The majority of records are from the United States, though a growing number of records are being added for other countries such as Canada, the United Kingdom, and various European countries. Some of these records are free for anyone to access, but the majority are accessible only by paid subscription.

On June 22, 2006, Ancestry.com completed the indexing and scanning of all of the United States Federal Census records from 1790 through 1930. [cite news | url=http://www.cnn.com/2006/TECH/internet/06/22/censusrecords.online.ap/index.html?section=cnn_tech|title=Genealogical site digitizes millions of census records | work=CNN.com | date=2006-06-22 | accessdate=2006-06-23] [cite web|url=http://myfamily.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=press_releases&item=63|title=Ancestry.com Digitizes Entire U.S. Federal Census Collection From 1790-1930|accessdate=2006-06-23]

Ancestry.com was nominated for a 2007 CODiE Award in the "Best Online Consumer Information Service" category.cite web|url=http://www.siia.net/codies/2007/finalists.asp|title=Finalists - The 22nd Annual SIIA Codie Awards|accessdate=2007-01-26]

The site was also used recently to show that ancestors of Al Sharpton were owned by relatives of the late Senator Strom Thurmond.cite news | author=Austin | Fennerurl=http://www.nydailynews.com/news/local/story/500579p-422090c.html | title=Slavery links families | work=The New York Daily News| date=2007-02-24 | accessdate=2008-04-21]

Non-U.S. sites

Ancestry.com operates multiple non-U.S.-centric sites which give access to records of other countries:

*Ancestry.ca provides access to online Canadian history records and global records, including the fully indexed 1911 census of Canada and the Drouin collection. The site was launched in 2006.

*Ancestry.com.au provides access to records only from the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Australia. The site was opened in August, 2006.

*Ancestry.co.uk provides access to records only from the United Kingdom and Ireland.

*Ancestry.de was launched in 2006, offering census records, immigration lists, and other records.

* Ancestry.it was launched in mid-2007, offering census records, immigration lists, and other records.

Family Heritage Project

This site is set up so that users can order a customized book containing census images, photos and other information regarding a family. The book is leather-bound and contains information up to four generations of a family. [cite web | url=http://www.familyheritage.com/Default/Landing/Questions.aspx?sourceid=22212&theme=Default | title=Common Questions | accessdate=2006-12-26] As of December 2006, the book is no longer available for order. [cite web | url=http://www.familyheritage.com/Green/Landing/Welcome.aspx?sourceid=22212&theme=Green | title=Family Heritage Project | accessdate=2006-12-26]

Family Tree Maker

Family TreeMaker (FTM) is advertised as "the #1-selling family tree software on the market." [cite web|url=http://familytreemaker.com/|title=FamilyTreeMaker.com|accessdate=2006-12-26] As with other genealogy software, FTM allows the researcher to keep track of all of the information collected during research and to create reports, charts, and books containing that information. The software was developed by Banner Blue, then purchased by Broderbund. It passed through the hands of The Learning Company, Mattel, and others before coming under its current ownership. At present, it is offered for users of Microsoft Windows 98/ME/2000/XP/Vista only, with no plans to release it on any other platforms. [cite web|url=http://ftm.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/ftm.cfg/php/enduser/std_adp.php?p_faqid=1603|title=What are the system requirements for Family Tree Maker 2006?|accessdate=2006-12-26] [cite web|url=http://ftm.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/ftm.cfg/php/enduser/std_adp.php?p_faqid=1760|title=Is Family Tree Maker available for the Macintosh?|accessdate=2006-12-26] Most features of Family Tree Maker 2005, 2006, and 16 function with Windows Vista, but certain features such as exporting views, books, or trees to PDF, require an update. [cite web | url=http://ftm.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/ftm.cfg/php/enduser/std_adp.php?p_faqid=2777 | title=Family Tree Maker Update for Windows Vista | publisher=The Generations Network | accessdate=2007-03-11]

Family Tree Maker Version 16 was nominated for a 2007 CODiE Award in the "Best Consumer Productivity Solution" category.cite web|url=http://www.siia.net/codies/2007/finalists.asp|title=|accessdate=]

A redesigned Family Tree Maker 2008 was released August 14 2007, but users are criticizing it. They report missing features that existed in previous versions, and also report performance problems and data loss. [cite web|url=http://familytreemaker.chesebro.info|title=An Eleven (11) Year Previously Satisfied User's Review of: Family Tree Maker 2008|accessdate=2008-03-15]

Genealogy.com

A genealogy research website with some records not found on Ancestry.com, though the total number of records available is smaller. Genealogy.com was acquired from A&E Networks by MyFamily.com in 2003. [cite web|url=http://genealogy.about.com/cs/ukrecords/a/monopoly.htm|title=Acquisition of Genealogy.com|date=2003-04-18|accessdate=2006-12-26]

LongLostPeople.com

This site allows you to search public records for living people in the United States. [cite web|url=http://www.longlostpeople.com/help.aspx|title=Frequently Asked Questions|accessdate=2006-12-26]

MyFamily.com

An Internet website which allows anyone to create a family or group website (e.g., a class reunion site, a club site) within a matter of minutes. A basic template for the site can be manipulated to turn on or off various modules for the main page, but the customization is limited. This may, however, change as they are currently running a public beta "MyFamily.com 2.0". [cite web | url=http://beta.myfamily.com/ | title=MyFamily.com 2.0 beta | accessdate=2008-04-21]

RootsWeb.com

A free genealogy community which makes excellent use of online forums and mailing lists to help people research their family history. RootsWeb was founded in 1993 by Dr. Brian Leverich and Karen Isaacson as the Roots Surname List, and quickly grew from there. It is the oldest free community genealogy research site. [cite web|url=http://worldconnect.rootsweb.com|title=RootsWeb.com|accessdate=2007-08-23|date=2005-09-24|publisher=Family First] RootsWeb was acquired by MyFamily.com in June 2000. [cite web|url=http://www.ancestry.com/learn/library/article.aspx?article=1797|title=Acquisition of RootsWeb|date=2000-06-21|accessdate=2006-12-26] Users can also upload a GEDCOM of their information for others to view.

Controversy

There are some who disapprove of the policies and business practices of The Generations Network and the sites it operates and have been catalogued by sites such as BadBusinessBureau.com. As of July 27, 2008, The Generations Network had an unsatisfactory rating with the Better Business Bureau as a result of slow response to complaints. [cite web|url=http://utah.bbb.org/WWWRoot/Report.aspx?site=139&bbb=1166&firm=2003190 |title=BBB Reliability Report for Generations Network, The|accessdate=2008-07-27|publisher=Better Business Bureau] Ancestry.com and affiliates sell perpetual subscriptions that only end when canceled that sometimes continue to accrue for long deceased subscribers.Fact|date=July 2008

References

External links

* [http://www.thegenerationsnetwork.com/ The Generations Network corporate site]
* [http://www.ancestry.com/ Ancestry.com] — [http://www.ancestry.com.au/ Australia] — [http://www.ancestry.ca/ Canada] — [http://www.ancestry.de/ Germany] — [http://www.ancestry.it/ Italy] — [http://www.ancestry.co.uk/ United Kingdom]
* [http://www.familyheritage.com/ Family Heritage Project]
* [http://www.familytreemaker.com/ Family Tree Maker] genealogy software
* [http://www.genealogy.com/ Genealogy.com]
* [http://www.longlostpeople.com/ LongLostPeople.com]
* [http://www.myfamily.com/ MyFamily.com]
* [http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/ RootsWeb.com] a free genealogy website


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