Tuesday, January 27, 2009

More FamilyLink.com News

I posted A Tale of Two Companies yesterday, which provided a link to Paul B. Allen's March 2008 presentation about the development of Ancestry.com and WorldVitalRecords.com.

Two kind email correspondents found a 21 November 2008 presentation by Paul B. Allen online that was given to the BYU eBusiness Day Fall 2008 Conference. The filers include:

* The PowerPoint presentation titled FamilyLink.com (about 6 mb)

* An MP3 audio file of the presentation (about 12 mb)

* A WMV (audio-visual) file of the presentation (123 mb - my computer couldn't handle both audio and video)

Just reading the PowerPoint is fascinating - I'm amazed by the tremendous shift in emphasis from "genealogy content on WorldVitalRecords" emphasized in March 2008 to "social networking using web sites and personal media devices" emphasized in November 2008.

The application of We're Related to Facebook, Myspace, Bebo, Orkut, Friendster, Yahoo, hi5 and iPhone is the major development shown in the presentation, and appears to be the focus of development over the past six months.

One message I received from this presentation is "a company has to do what it has to do" in order to survive and be profitable. It has to take risks, innovate, try to catch the next technology wave, etc. It appears that FamilyLink.com is riding the wave right now. Will they succeed or wipe out?

There are also some interesting charts in the presentation concerning the soon-to-appear http://www.worldhistory.com/. The slides show maps on the web site and on an iPhone linked to persons in a family tree. I want to go back and listen to the MP3 to see just what Paul said about this site.

Paul Allen posted Near Death Experiences yesterday on his http://www.paulallen.net/ blog, in which he describes how close startup companies can come to failure. Near the end of his post, he wrote:

"...but FamilyLink.com (corporate site) had its own very intense near-death experience in the past few weeks. Amid the global economic meltdown, a bank loan was called, and we scrambled for weeks to find a way to pay it off. A few options emerged, some less attractive than others, and then finally, a couple of days after Christmas, we were completely delivered from our financial pressures. We have now finalized our Series B funding which will be announced shortly.

"Amazingly, at about the same time, we turned profitable. Just six months ago we were losing nearly $300,000 per month. But through a combination of very painful cost reductions and the growth in our subscription, advertising, and product revenue streams, we literally turned the corner the week after Christmas, and hope to never turn back."

That is great news from my perspective - the genealogy industry needs competition. Ancestry.com is still the biggest bear in the genealogy woods, but competition among data providers increase the available content and subscription prices down.

What conclusions do you draw from these presentations by Paul Allen about FamilyLink.com? What does it mean for genealogists?

I have my own observations, but will hold them and will post them in a separate blog and will include any comments that my readers offer. If you prefer to offer anonymous comments to me, email me at rjseaver@cox.net and I will post them without your name attached.

Lastly, I really appreciate that some of my readers are willing to share links with me - please continue! I also appreciate that presentations like Paul's are available on the Internet from conference sponsors.

1 comment:

RadixLog said...

Randy, the video is good - except a couple of minutes at the beginning (and maybe later), when the microphone fails.