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Family history company may make acquisitions, go public

Published December 3, 2008 5:35 pm

Poised for growth » New CFO from Martha Stewart brings IPO expertise
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2008, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The parent company of online genealogy sites ancestry.com and myfamily.com has hired a CFO from Martha Stewart's empire, signaling that it will explore going public and is looking at acquisitions.

Tim Sullivan, CEO of The Generations Network Inc., lured away Howard Hochhauser from Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc., where Hochhauser also held the post of chief financial officer.

At Martha Stewart, Hochhauser helped launch an initial public offering, and Sullivan indicated that may be an option for The Generations Networks, which is privately held.

"I wouldn't say we have plans to take it public," said Sullivan, but he added that making a public offering is part of the expertise Hochhauser brings to Provo-based Generations.

"We're going to do whatever we should do to maximize value for our shareholders and service our members and subscribers," Sullivan said.

A year ago, Spectrum Equity Investors, based in Boston and Menlo Park, Calif., bought out the original majority owners of The Generations Network in a $300 million deal.

Sullivan called the company "extremely profitable," saying it has more than a million paid subscribers to its family history services and $190 million in yearly revenue.

He and Hochhauser said the company's strong financial position, and the fact that the recession has lowered the value of other companies, may allow The Generations Network to make strategic acquisitions that will allow it to continue to grow.

"It's something we want to do if we think there are opportunities," said Sullivan.

One indication this might be where the company is headed is that former CFO David Rinn has been tapped to run a new corporate group focusing on developing partnerships with other companies and potential acquisitions.

Howard, a former analyst at Bear, Stearns & Co., said The Generations Network has a "really solid balance sheet," and that he discovered its potential when at Martha Stewart he saw sales of a genealogy chart soar.

"It sort of got my attention," he said.

tharvey@sltrib.com

The Generations network

Based: Provo

Founded: 1983

Specialty: Online family histories

Paid subscribers: More than 1 million

Revenues: More than $190 million

Online sites: http://www.ancestry.com/

http://www.myfamily.com/

http://www.genealogy.com/

http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/

http://www.mycanvas.com/

http://www.dna.ancestry.com/

http://www.familytreemaker.com/