LEHI — Just days after the company won a $2.4 million tax incentive package from the Governor's Office of Economic Development, Ancestry.com is rumored to be lining things up to take the DNA testing and family history research company public, for the second time.
Bloomberg first reported on the effort in a Thursday story citing unnamed sources who said Ancestry is headed for the public investment market to "take advantage of growing consumer interest in DNA tests and investors’ appetite for new health and technology stocks."
While Ancestry.com was a publicly traded stock from 2009-12, the company moved back into the private sector following a $1.6 billion buyout by Permira Advisers in partnership with a group of the company's executives and others. Ancestry.com reported a value of $2.6 billion in an equity deal in 2016 involving Silver Lake Partners and GIC.
The Lehi-based business began life in Utah as a publisher of family history magazines and genealogy reference books in 1983 and, according to data provided by the company, has since grown into a multibillion-dollar tech conglomerate with 3 million paid subscribers, operations in 30 international markets and a collection of 20 billion family records.
The company says it has conducted over 10 million individual DNA tests since it began the genetic evaluations in 2002 and has breached the $1 billion mark in annual revenues.
In what may be a foreshadowing of how the company would leverage new capital raised in a stock offering, Ancestry Chief Financial Officer Howard Hochhauser told the Deseret News last week that in addition to adding to its current employee roster of about 1,600, the company has plans for further international expansion as well as product announcements lined up for later this year "in the health space, around our DNA product."
A spokeswoman for Ancestry.com declined comment on a Deseret News inquiry about a potential IPO.
The IPO whisperings came on the same day Ancestry.com took down an ad from its YouTube channel, and is also removing it from television rotation, that depicted a white man encouraging a black woman to escape with him to Canada in a scene that appears to be set in the 1800s. In the 30-second spot, the man says, "There's a place we can be together … will you flee with me?" Commentary focused on the ad erupted on social media accusing the company of racial insensitivity.
A company spokeswoman shared the following statement in response to a Desert News request for comment about the controversy:
"Ancestry is committed to telling important stories from history. This ad was intended to represent one of those stories. We very much appreciate the feedback we have received and apologize for any offense that the ad may have caused. We are in the process of pulling the ad from television and have removed it from YouTube."