Who Owns Ancestry?

If you have an interest in genealogy, it's very likely you have heard of the Ancestry website. In this article, we cover who owns Ancestry, how it was founded, and the history of the company.

Genealogy has been a hot topic for many people around the world for many years. Whether you are interested in finding out more about your family history or are looking for answers to medical or other personal questions, genealogy and DNA searches have become commonplace.

With advances in technology, companies like Ancestry have been able to help people connect with their past in many different ways. But, have you ever wondered how Ancestry got started? Read on below to find out.

Who Are the Founders of Ancestry?

Ancestry came out of the desire of two Brigham Young University students to digitize LDS publications to make it easier for people to access. Paul Allen and Dan Taggart founded their first company, Infobases, which stored LDS information on floppy disks in collections that could be purchased.

Initially, these two students and their wives compiled, labeled, and distributed these disks from the trunk of the founders’ cars. From there, the interest for the two advanced into wondering what else they could create a database for that people may be interested in.

It was from this desire that the Infobases company purchased Ancestry Publishing from John Sittner in 1996. This company had originally developed various genealogy publications which provided the two BYU graduates away into the world that people now know as Ancestry.

What is the History of Ancestry?

Although the company was founded as a way to compile a database of information on genealogy and other family histories, it soon launched into much more. Two years after purchasing the Ancestry Publishing company, MyFamily.com was launched.

MyFamily was just the beginning of the genealogy database for this company. The business quickly grew into bringing in millions of dollars in revenue from users all over the world. In 1999, the company changed its name to Ancestry.

It is important to note that Ancestry is one of the first companies to compile this type of data and allow users to access it. This made it possible for people to search for their family history more effortlessly than ever before.

With even more advances in technology and methods of tracing family histories, Ancestry has recently become a household name for using DNA to find out more. Individuals can provide a sample and soon become connected with family members all over the world.

Tracing your genealogy through DNA allows you to discover your ethnicity percentages that go beyond who your immediate family is. This is a way to find out where your family line originated from. Knowing this information can go a long way to giving individuals peace of mind.

The founders and those who have come after them have had to dive into the world of not only genealogy but also the understanding of how DNA works to compile the data used in Ancestry. Through this knowledge, they can determine if those who match through DNA are related or not.

Who Owns Ancestry?

Since its humble beginnings, the company has grown and changed ownership many times moving from the two founders to major equity companies. From partial ownership to majority ownership and many others in between, Ancestry has continued to thrive.

Spectrum Equity purchased 30% ownership in the company in 2007 and just two years later they went public with a $100 million IPO. This led to the majority ownership being bought by another equity group which led to an expansion into Europe.

Though several other equity companies have had majority ownership throughout the years, in 2020, Blackstone Group purchased the majority stake for $4.7 billion. This is the group that currently owns and operates Ancestry.

What is interesting about Blackstone is that instead of being in the world of genealogy, they are an investment group that has stakes in real estate and data. This knowledge of how data works have allowed Ancestry to become the success it is today.

What is the Connection to the Morman Church and Ancestry?

Although many people have believed over the years that Ancestry was either owned or connected to the Morman Church, this is not true. This belief came from the knowledge that the founders were connected to LDS.

It is important to remember that while Paul Allen and Dan Taggart founded the company on the heels of their first company, Infobases, which compiled LDS data, this was the only connection. The pair did not work for the Morman Church, rather they created Infobases as a way to make scriptures more accessible.

Ancestry may have been founded by members of the Morman Church, but the company is not in any way connected to the church. There has been, however, collaboration with shared data between the company and the Morman Church.

This collaboration came along due to the access to databases that the church had which enabled Ancestry to compile more data. The LDS church may have been a great influence on the company, they never owned a stake in Ancestry itself at any point over the years.

Final Thoughts

Companies like Ancestry have made it a possibility for individuals to find their family history and even trace it back many generations. Along with the database and the ability to trace their genealogy through DNA, Ancestry has become one of the leaders in genealogy research.

Before companies like Ancestry came along, many people had to rely on family records and perhaps even government records to find any information about their history. This type of search created many roadblocks and frustration for those who wanted to find information about the past.

Today, along with companies like Ancestry, many organizations are focused on helping people locate information about their family history. The Liberty Ellis Foundation is an organization that is dedicated to helping people trace their ancestors who may have roots going back to those who arrived through Ellis Island many years ago.

Ancestry, owned by Blackstone Group, has taken advantage of the advances in technology to create a unique product. Expanding into various countries around the world is just the beginning for this company. As technology continues to advance, the ability to trace genealogy will also become more advanced.

Neil Edwards

Neil Edwards

Genealogist and family-tree research specialist

Neil was born in Shropshire, England surrounded by centuries of living history. His interest in the past has been a lifelong passion leading to undergraduate degrees in both Economic History & Geography and History & Politics.

This interest in history quickly translated to family history when he moved to the U.S. in 2010. It was here that he began working on his own family tree as well as that of his American wife. That research allowed him to gain a wealth of experience working with both U.S. and European genealogical documents and studying their best uses in researching family history.

Following 9 years of honing his genealogical research skills, Neil was proud to have earned a certificate in Genealogical Research from Boston University in late 2019. Neil also took part in the research process for a Duke University study into the families of 19th Century UK Members of Parliament.

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