Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Silver Lake Buys Part of Ancestry.com

Silver Lake Buys Part of Ancestry.comAncestry.com LLC announced last Friday that an investment firm, Silver Lake, has purchased some of Ancestry. You and I can’t buy shares in Ancestry—at least not directly—because Ancestry is not a public company. But that doesn’t mean that no one can buy shares. Firms with many millions of dollars sometimes can buy portions of Ancestry. To facilitate the transaction, the parties involved have to come to agreement as to the value of the company so that the value of the shares can be established.

This sale established the current value at about $2.6 billion dollars. You may recall that is the value I calculated last year when rumors began to circulate that Ancestry’s investors were hoping to sell portions of the company. (See “Owners of Ancestry.com Hoping to Sell.”) That is up quite a bit from the valuation in 2012 when Ancestry was valued at $1.6 billion. That valuation occurred when Permira bought a majority share of Ancestry. (See my story, “Ancestry.com Sold for $1.6 Billion.”)

Ownership of Ancestry is now shared among several large shareholders. The amounts sound like a story problem. After the sell, Silver Lake will own the same amount as GIC, an existing owner. Added together, they own less than 50% of the company. However, when GIC’s shares are added to other existing owners, Permira funds, Spectrum Equity, Tim Sullivan, and Howard Hochhauser, this group of investors owns more than 50%.

Ancestry now has more than 2.2 million paying subscribers across all its websites. They include Ancestry.com, Archives.com, Fold3.com, Newspapers.com and AncestryDNA. They contain more than 17 billion digitized historical records. They host 78 million family trees and have more than 1.5 million DNA samples.

Silver Lake owns $24 billion in assets. Among the companies they have invested in are Dell, GoDaddy, and Motorola Solutions. GIC manages the foreign investments of Singapore, amounting to over $100 billion US dollars. Permira owns $28 billion US dollars.

To read the 1 April 2016 Ancestry press release, see “Silver Lake and GIC Announce Strategic Investments in Ancestry” on the Ancestry.com corporate website (http://corporate.ancestry.com).


  1. In the beginning, I thought that Ancestry was just a nice genealogy reference source. Now it seems to be being regarded as something of a cash cow. Remember what happened when some company in Europe bought into Ancestry? There were all those goofy changes to the website. I have bad feelings about this, that genealogists are going to come out on the short end of the stick.

  2. You could share your tree on Ancestry - do you get paid? No, of course not. Stop giving them stuff that they then charge for until they give you something in return.

  3. How do these numbers compare with FamilySearch, MyHertage, and FindMyPast in terms of numbers with Family Tree accounts, and digitized records?

  4. I agree with Judith Martin--that what Ancestry began as and what it has become are two very different things,and that it is now the Walmart of genealogy. Too big to care about the little person, and a ruthless competitor, I'll be bound. I liked it better back when it was kind of doofy in some ways, but it felt like a true-blue genealogy site, doing it for the sake of discovery and connection, not hard cold cash.

  5. Please note that the Ancestry press release talks about an enterprise value of $2.6Billion. Enterprise value includes debt. So, for example, if Ancestry had $100 million of equity (stock) and $2.5 Billion of debt, the enterprise value would be $2.6 billion. Bottom line, from the information given, we do not know what the stock of Ancestry is worth, nor can we guess how much Silver Lake paid or the other insiders got.


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