Last year I intended to do stupendously rich write-ups of the Ancestry.com Bloggers Day presentations. Since I didn’t get around to it, for this year’s event, held 8 January 2010, you’re getting my stupidously poor notes.
Andrew Wait was the first presenter. Wait drew the job of introducing the key messages this year. These are the themes we heard over and over throughout the day:
- We wish to be transparent (even if being public makes that more difficult).
- We have become better listeners.
- We did what we said we’d do last year.
- What we do is expensive and complex.
Last year the message that every single last employee was personally invested in genealogy came across as forced and contrived. I was glad that that message was gone. But I was still glad when some presenters could use examples from their own genealogies. Another message that was gone was last year’s adversarial humor about Gary Gibb wanting to spend more on content than upper management. True or not, why would you want to send that message?!
Here are the rest of my notes from Andrew Wait’s introductory presentation:
o At a Glance
§ 700 employees
§ 10 offices
o San Francisco (now an official office. added knowledge workers),
o Washington D.C. (Bethesda),
§ Websites for 9 countries
· US, UK, Canada (Eng & French), Australia, Germany, Italy, France, Sweden, China
§ 1983 established as a publishing company
§ 1996 ancestry.com launched in January, includes online databases by November
· access to the SSDI
· More than 4 billion online records
· More than 8 billion names in online records
· We’ve revised how we calculate this numbers to be more conservative than before.
§ Content Acquisition
· ~10 employees domestically (international employees are shown elsewhere)
· Record keeping is the largest unfunded mandate in the US, which makes establishment of relationships with archives difficult.
· 2 full-time employees working with societies for World Archives Project (Suzanne and Lou)
§ Development & IT/IS
· ~160 employees.
· Ramped up, perhaps doubling the ancestry.com team from last year
§ Product management and UI design
· ~50 employees.
· Change in philosophy: Don’t grow our own product managers; hire the best from outside.
· Tony Macklin doing search.
o Background at ask.com and eBay
o Spent a year listening to customers before he was willing to propose any major search changes. More on this later from Tony.
· ~60 employees
§ Document preservation services
· ~150 employees
· Much, much larger than it was a year ago.
· Most of the growth is outside Provo.
· Moving from digitizing mostly microfilm to mostly paper.
· 14 or 15 onsite scanning projects in the US.
· About the same outside the US.
o This is because paper records can’t be shipped to Provo like microfilm can.
§ Member services
· ~160 employees
· Have some genealogy heroes. Have some real stars.
· Showed “Behind the Scenes at Ancestry.com,” a “fun video” of employees
o Production rate: 2 million images per week
§ Public Relations & marketing
· ~50 employees
· They do: customer acquisition, customer education, analytics, creative design, partners
§ Corp staff
· ~50 employees
Next time: Tour of the data center, by Ron Hair.
Wait is the senior vice president and general manager of family history at Ancestry.com, Inc., and is responsible for planning and directing all aspects of the company’s products, marketing and operations. Prior to joining the company in March 2006, Wait served as senior director of marketing at Kodak Gallery from October 2003 to January 2006. From January 2000 to October 2003, he was the senior director of marketing for EarthLink’s PeoplePC brand. Earlier in his career, he held various marketing positions with Pacific Bell/SBC, Bank of America and Hilton Hotels. Wait holds a Master of International Business Administration from Saint Mary’s College and a bachelors degree in history from the University of California at Berkeley.