Thursday, February 4, 2010 Bloggers Day: Lunch with Tim Sullivan

This is another in a series of reports about Bloggers Day 2010.

We had lunch with CEO, Tim Sullivan and general manager, Andrew Wait. Here’s my brief notes:

Andrew Wait told us that feedback from their My Story ads said the ads didn’t explain enough about what the genealogy experience was like. In fact, the life-changing stories set the bar so high that average people couldn’t identify with the experiences.

As a result, five days earlier started a new advertizing campaign that goes back to the previous style a bit.

Tim Sullivan asked us if we had any questions for him. When there was a half-second pause, he said if we didn’t have any questions, he had questions for us. Then he asked us…  uh…  …something. I don’t actually remember what it was. My notes are devoid of anything Sullivan said. Sorry, Tim! I did jot down some comments from my fellow writers:

DearMYRTLE said, “Genealogy is a winter sport.” Does that mean Tim asked if we were seeing an upswing in genealogical interest?

iPhoneTreeToGoAt some point Andrew said, “Try a Twitter search of ‘’ You’ll see lots of positive feedback.” I think that means several of us expressed appreciation that had taken the time to meet with us and said our opinions of were much improved. I think someone even contrasted the day with the infamous “Internet Biographical Database” fiasco. [To read more on that subject, I recommend the series of articles by fellow attendee, Craig Manson.]

I can’t remember what led to my favorite comment of the day. Thomas MacEntee said, “I’ve always thought of genealogy as CSI without the icky bodies.” Mysteries. Dead people. Detective work. Yup; I think he nailed that one pretty well.

The final note I have on lunch was Andrew’s announcement that had submitted “Tree to Go,” an iPhone application which would be available soon in the iPhone store. [ announced the application to the public on 19 January 2010.]


Who did throw at us right after lunch? We were hoping it would be someone who could keep us awake. We were not disappointed. Stay tuned…


Ancestry Bios Tim Sullivan Tim Sullivan is the CEO of, Inc. He was previously CEO of Under Tim’s leadership, expanded globally into 29 local languages and grew paid subscribers from 189,500 to nearly one million while growing revenue more than six-fold. Prior to joining, Tim was vice president of e-commerce for Ticketmaster Online-Citysearch, Inc. Before that he spent seven years at the Walt Disney Company where he was vice president and managing director for Buena Vista Home Entertainment Asia Pacific. Tim is a graduate of Harvard Business School and was a Morehead Scholar at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


  1. I think of genealogy as a treasure hunt. I like the detective work comment too.

  2. Tim Sullivan, the CEO should pay more attention to customers. I'm canceling my account of over 10 years! Reason? Search engine and employee attitude. I've complained bitterly about the search engine for months now and the fact you ..CANNOT..get info out of system. No one cares..n no one calls me back. It is a crime that you own all those records yet no one can pull them out.
    Today it was simply trying to accests the 1810 Tennessee Census. I complained that it wouldn't give me the Houstons living there. your people told me to use the car catalog rather than the reg search. Problem is, if you use the regular tells you no Houstons lived in Tenn in 1810..which they did...if you use the card catalogue and got through about 20 will indeed tell you that Houstons did live just will give you a little thingy to put in your shoe box! It won't let you see how many in family or how old or anything.
    I see you enabled your comment moderation so I'm sure this will never be published.
    gail onesi

  3. Tell us how you really feel gonesi

  4. I've been a subscriber to also and have to say that I have encountered the same issues as gonesi. Very hard to get to customer service. Messages/emails left but no responses. A great deal of complaining on the social media too usually about same issues. It has to be remembered that not only do we pay for the information in their databases but we also ADD to them with our own outside research. My own personal issue that I've been trying to resolve is that I have printed copies of UK WWI military records that I found on Ancestry a couple of years ago but these records are no longer on their site. Where are they? And how many more records are missing?

    I think that the worst part of this situation is that without sites like Ancestry researchers wouldn't be able to find most of the records themselves. I for one live in the US but all my ancestors lived in the UK. So they have us over a barrel. I just wish they were more customer service oriented!! Just telling me that they received my call or email would go a long way.


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