So genealogy websites are apparently a lucrative proposition, as Ancestry.com has been acquired by European private-equity firm Permira for $1.6 billion, which is a little over 1.5 Instagrams and about as much as Google paid for YouTube. Basically, it's a lot more money than we would have expected for a website all about family trees, which The Wall Street Journal's Ryan Dezember attributes to "a bet that family-history research is more than a niche market and that the subscriber base can swell with technological innovations, deeper archives and a wider international audience," he writes.
It does sound like the site has offers more than a lot of other Internet things these days. Since it took its ancestor finding business online, the company has digitized billions of historical records. To monetize all that information, the website has a subscription model that two million people pay into at $12.95 to $34.95 a month, according to the company. That is two million more humans than Instagram has got paying for it, for example. The site even had a spin-off television show that ran on NBC for three seasons called Who Do You Think You Are?, where celebrities like J.K. Rowling and Paula Dean explored their family trees. People care about this stuff in a way that Ancestry.com has been able to capitalize off of and it sounds like they have a plan for growth, too. So far, a lot of Ancestry.com's growth has been U.S. based. The deal plans on expanding that to Western Europe.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.