British “David” Takes On Billion-Dollar U.S. “Goliath” For Share of U.S.’s Growing Online Genealogy Market
- Findmypast.com launches into U.S. July 24; seeks to become go-to site for Americans of British and Irish ancestries
- World’s second largest genealogy company takes on its biggest rival, with the help of 1,000 unique record collections and 75% annual growth
San Francisco, CA. July 24, 2012: Findmypast.com, a British-owned family history website, is launching into the growing U.S. genealogy market on July 24.
Findmypast is the flagship brand of brightsolid online publishing, a UK and world leader in online genealogy, with 18 million registered users across its family of sites, over a billion genealogical records dating back to 1200 – and a growth rate last year of 75%.
Yet, findmypast.com enters the U.S. market in the role of David facing Goliath in the shape of ancestry.com, the overwhelming market leader and the world’s largest genealogy company, with a market capitalization of a billion dollars.
“We’re not used to thinking of ourselves as small”, says Chris van der Kuyl, CEO of brightsolid, the world’s second largest genealogy company. “Our ambitions are big and the launch of findmypast.com is a major market entry. The truth is that it’s a growing market, with plenty of room for both of us.”
Global demand for genealogy products and services is, indeed, showing “promising growth”, found a market report published by Global Industry Analysts in January 2012. The market’s growth, it said, is being driven by the demand of over 84 million genealogists, each spending between U.S. $1,000 and US $18,000 a year on the pursuit. “The trend is expected to continue…”
A local contributor to this trend has been the release this year of the records from the 1940 U.S. Census, says Mark Mahaney, analyst and MD of Internet Research at Citigroup Investment Research. But the global, underlying reason is simply the Web. “Genealogy has been very much a niche market in the past because doing the research has been such hard work”, says Mahaney. “But the Internet has made it so much easier. You no longer have to travel to search out records. That’s been the big change.”
The launch of findmypast.com will offer U.S. customers access to not just a wealth of U.S. genealogical records but also a vast overseas collection. The latter includes almost 1,000  unique British, Irish and Australian record collections, with some single collections containing up to 30 million records.
“This sort of added choice and competition has got to benefit U.S. consumers”, says van der Kuyl.
Findmypast.com is the new U.S. addition to a global network of findmypast websites – it joins existing findmypast sites in the UK, Ireland and Australia. It has recruited a separate U.S. team, based in a new office in Venice, California.
It is also a participant in the 1940 U.S. Census Community Project, which is currently indexing the 1940 U.S. Census, for viewing on findmypast.com.
The launch of findmypast.com follows growing global demand for the records and functionality offered by findmypast’s other sites, says van der Kuyl: “Last year, we had 4.5 million visits to findmypast.co.uk from other countries, led by the U.S., while 55% of findmypast Ireland visits came from outside Ireland.”
Findmypast.com will enter the U.S. market, armed with the unique wealth of its British and Irish genealogical records, as well as its unrivalled ease of search technology and its more flexible payment options.
“We aim to become the go-to family history site, first for Americans of British and Irish descent, and eventually for all Americans”, says van der Kuyl.
Over 40 million Americans or 13% of the total US population report British ancestry, according to the American Community Survey of 2009, although other estimates put the figure as high as 72 million or nearly a quarter of all Americans. Meanwhile, some 40 million Americans report Irish ancestry.
Findmypast.com will offer customers the chance to buy a “World Subscription”, providing access to many unique record sets of particular value to those tracing British or Irish ancestors. These will include:
- The most complete England, Wales and Scotland census collection available anywhere
- The most comprehensive online index of birth, marriage and death records in England and Wales: over 300 million records
- 42 million local parish records, dating back to 1538, and steadily growing
- Passenger lists from ships leaving the UK 1890-1960
- British Army Records 1760-1915
- A fast-growing collection of local UK records dating back to 1700
- Irish vital records dating back to the 13th century, plus millions of unique Irish land, estate, prison and court records
- The British Library’s Newspaper Archives, the world’s greatest newspaper archive [available via findmypast.com by late 2012]
The U.S. launch of findmypast.com follows the news reported by Bloomberg last month that ancestry.com is seeking buyers. At least one source has mooted brightsolid as a possible candidate.
“We’ll always look at the right opportunities to grow the business”, says van der Kuyl, “and are also currently negotiating various strategic partnership deals. We are not, however, planning to buy ancestry.com but focusing instead on the U.S. launch of findmypast.com.”