Friday, October 19, 2007

Inside Scoop On Ancestry Acquisition

If life continues to be so busy, this is going to be a weekly column rather than a weekday column. Holy Cow! Fortunately, the world has no shortage of excellent genealogy blogs.

Can I say that I'm thinking in a prior life I was Randy Seaver? I think we share engineering backgrounds that lead our brains down the same paths. Or maybe he has my office bugged. When I come up with a subject I wish to cover, at least half the time he covers it in his Genea-Musings blog before I can get to it. Which isn't all bad, given the limitations on my time. As long as I don't mind him getting all the glory, this could be a wonderful partnership. I'll continue to come up with great topic ideas and he can continue doing a great job writing them up.

I don't mean to start a list here, but you good genealogy bloggers, you know who you are. <smile> I try and keep my personal reading down to... hang on let me count... 40 blogs! Holy Cow! No wonder I don't have time to write!

Bloglines Feed Reader

And may I say again how impressed I am with Bloglines. During this acquisition week there's no way I could have kept up without it. You see, I broke down last Saturday and got a cell phone with Wi-Fi and Windows Mobile. (If anyone accuses me of putting my old phone through the wash, I'll deny any involvement. I'm totally, ah... clean. ) Now I can read blogs from anywhere in the house (when it's working. I refuse to pay for a Data Subscription. I have Wi-Fi at work and at home. You'd think the phone would be happy. But the stupid phone and/or stupid Windows Mobile doesn't like being operated without a data subscription. Grrrr! Has nobody out there done this before?!? But I digress...)

I was delighted to find that on my mobile phone Bloglines has special handling making it remarkably usable even in a 1.75 " by 1.75 " browser window. Feeds can be marked to display complete posts or summaries and can be completely excluded from the mobile reader. Clicking through to original blog posts, Bloglines invokes skweezer.net technology so even the original blogs are reformatted for the tiny screen.

The Acquisition

Using all this newfangled technology, I've been able to keep up with the hundreds of postings about the sell of Ancestry.com's parent company, the Generations Network (TNG). There have been some inaccuracies out there and I'd like to address them.

Inaccuracy: "Morale at the company is low"

We're in a great job market and if this were true, there would be higher levels of turnover. If anything, the recent layoff hit some groups harder than others because they weren't experiencing any turnover. I suppose you can find the usual small number of workers that are greatly dissatisfied and the expected great number of workers with small dissatisfactions.

And we also have those that remember that when the company was smaller it was more fun. I've seen that before, also, and consider it normal. Some people enjoy the less-restrictive, higher-productivity and greater-interactivity of smaller companies. But it says something that they've stayed with the company this long.

It's true that all of us have hated the layoffs. You'd have to be inhuman not to. I was an executive of a large technology company and had to affect several layoffs. I used to return after hours and cry at the desks of my former employees. Knowing what I did was the best thing for the company and its owners was little solace to me because I knew it would be of no solace to the newly unemployed families.

Inaccuracy: "A few months ago the CFO was laid off"

There are several places where a fact-checker could see if this were true before publishing it. The TGN Management Team page of the company website shows David H. Rinn is the CFO. The Press Release Archives for 2004 shows he's held that position for over three years.

Inaccuracy: "Conditions at the company are bad"

In all fairness, the author goes on to specify that it is the condition of affiliate relations that are bad. Since the author is professionally involved in affiliate marketing, she may be right on this point. I just wanted to make it clear that conditions "at" or inside the company are just fine, thank you.

TGN Blocking Newspaper Girl?

Inaccuracy: "Employees at Ancestry.com read my blog"

I made that last one up. What Newspapergrl, Janet Meiners, actually said was, "Ancestry.com employees read my blog." And this is true. Meiners used to work at Ancestry, so it's only natural. But I found something weird the last time I tried to read her blog while at Ancestry. I could read the post just fine in Bloglines, but when I attempted to click through to her website, I got a browser error stating the name did not exist. Two fellow workers verified the same result at that time and a week later.

Is TGN blocking employee access to Meiners website? Is Meiners website blocking readers with TGN's IP address? Could this be inadvertent on one of the parties parts? She looks like a nice girl. She and I have a 3rd-degree LinkedIn relationship through 50 of my contacts. She posted a link to my website, so she must be a good person.

That's It For Tonight

Well, it's late, so that's it for tonight. In parting, let me make it clear that this acquisition is simply one owner buying out other owners as a financial investment. Spectrum is not an expert in genealogy or Internet social networking. They are experts in investing. They must have faith in our business model. They've gotta' believe in our management team. As experts in finding companies whose value will grow at a rate faster than the market, the last thing they want to do is introduce risk, upsetting the apple cart in any substantial way.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Mr. Insider,

    Thnaks for the compliment - I like it when people actually read my stuff and love it when I get kudos.

    As you noted, I do a fair share of analysis about what's happening - it's what I'm fairly good at as a result of the engineering and science background and experience.
    Keep up the good work - I appreciate your insights nadp osts, and really liek the humor.

    ReplyDelete