An anonymous commenter left this message:
Congrats Insider - very nice move.
Once the church has indexed as much as Ancestry what to you suppose will happen? (since the church [FamilySearch] gives away the info for free and Ancestry charges) Is Ancestry.com doomed in one year, five, or ten?
Thank you. If you were a good brown-noser you would have said, "Now that you are gone... is Ancestry doomed?" :-)
Seriously, Ancestry will do just fine without me. And the issue you raise is a good one, although Google may be a more serious threat than FamilySearch. FamilySearch is forging partnerships with 3rd parties that encourage the 3rd parties to share indexes and make their money by charging for access to images.
Even without cooperation from FamilySearch, the vast quantity of records out there will allow coexistence for many, many years. The truth is, new records are being created faster than genealogy companies can assimilate them. We're falling further and further behind. The problem is particularly challenging for FamilySearch, whose clientele is growing quickly in countries that aren't economically interesting to the likes of Ancestry. If commercial companies are not going to help in poor countries, FamilySearch will be left alone to shoulder the burden.
Back to Google. I think Ancestry realizes that Google, FamilySearch, new competition and government sources are pressuring the price of content towards zero. If content becomes free and ubiquitous, what can a company like Ancestry do to provide a service that customers might want to pay for? In my opinion, the answer is trees. More specifically, Ancestry has to provide an environment where customers can form a community that is mutually beneficial. Ancestry provides the framework. Members add value. The community benefits.
Allowing users to link images of source documents to events in their trees is ground breaking. It's powerful. Now they make suggestions to users based on the trees, people and record linkages of other users. Ancestry is currently the sole vendor in this area and is light-years ahead of anyone else. This is powerful, powerful stuff which I'm sure has not gone unnoticed by other big players or potential players in this field. If you've read Ancestry's announcements on the growth rate for the number of trees, people in those trees and record links to those people, the momentum is astonishing.
Hat's off to Tim Sullivan, Kendall Hulet and those at Ancestry that saw this vision of the future. And hats off to the rest of my buddies and coworkers who have worked extra hard, rushing forward to make the future become a present reality. Be it one year, five or ten, with visionary, creative, hardworking people like these, Ancestry will never be doomed.