Monday, August 4, 2008 and FamilySearch Partnership

A Natural Fit

Last week I joked about this partnership, but this is something I've been hoping for for a long time. In fact, the deal was done some time before I left, and I had to sit on the news until it was announced. But then they waited until I was gone on vacation to announce it. ;-)

I think a partnership between and FamilySearch makes perfect sense because at their hearts, the two have different objectives even though they share the use of genealogy to achieve those ends. Keeping their goals in mind helps when deciphering their behaviors.

Ancestry's Motive's objective, of course, is financial. The owners want to make the maximum amount of money possible. If the owners are wise (and I think they are), then they've given the company executives a large financial incentive to make money for the owners. If the executives are wise (and I think they are), then they try their hardest to make money. In fact, when I was an executive I understood I had "a fiduciary duty to maximize shareholder value."

FamilySearch's Motive

Most anyone who has been in the genealogical community for any length of time knows that FamilySearch is the brand used by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for its genealogical endeavors. The Church's objective is temple ordinances, which the Church believes allow earthly families to become eternal families. Church members search out their ancestors using original records and genealogies from the genealogically-active public.

With these different purposes in mind, it had long mystified me that and FamilySearch weren't cooperating more readily. Naive me. It should have been obvious that each side was sitting on their side of the negotiating table whispering, "How can we structure this deal to get the most _______ possible?" Fill in the blank with "profit" or "temple ordinances," respectively.

Next time I'll look at the partnership in terms of these motives to show how the deal makes sense for both. In the mean time, if you wish to help out producing a free index of the 1920 U.S. Federal Census, visit

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