Thursday, October 25, 2007

TGN's CEO Tim Sullivan Interviewed

Kimberly Powell at her About:Genealogy blog has scored an excellent interview with Tim Sullivan, The Geneations Network President and CEO. He addresses the buyout, future plans for Ancestry,, Rootsweb, the Internet Biographical Collection and FamilyTreeMaker 2008 release, and more.

It's an excellent and revealing interview. The things I found most interesting were:

* The buyout by Spectrum Equity Investments replaced current owners, and resulted in a majority owner named Dick Parker who is tuned in to genealogy.

* They weren't out to "steal" content with the IBC, and were hurt by the level of anger by many commenters.

* On FTM 2008, the research and testing somehow missed how important the genealogy report and publishing options were.

* There is a new search engine coming out as a beta, and they will user-test it before they implement it.

Read all of Kimberly's interview.

My opinion is that TGN is not well in tune with their customer base for Ancestry and FamilyTreeMaker. They really need to survey their customers, listen to their needs and opinions, and provide products that respond to those needs. You don't get this feedback from the professionals and magazine writers - you get them from the grass-roots users - folks who are not wealthy, who don't spend all day, every day doing genealogy, and who just want what they buy to work well.

I understand that the programmers want to implement the latest and greatest software bells and whistles, and make it work better, and there will be so many great things, and ..., and ... (take a breath). TGN needs to understand that many people are averse to change - it takes a while to accept change and then a while to understand and use what has changed. I think that changes should not be abrupt - they need to be add-ons rather than replacement at least for some interim period.

UPDATE 9:30 PM: The Genealogue also interviewed someone named Tim Sullivan here - leave it to Chris to make the oh-so-serious issue a laugh-out-loud funny! I needed it.

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