Paypal – Facebook Executive Deborah Liu Named CEO of Ancestry.com
Ancestry.com Inc., the world’s largest consumer genealogy company, tapped former Facebook Inc. executive Deborah Liu to become its next chief executive officer, effective March 1.
Liu spent 11 years at Facebook, where she created and led Facebook Marketplace, the social media site’s classified advertisement service that has 800 million monthly users. She is also the founder of Women in Product, a nonprofit network of women in technology leadership roles. Liu held previous positions at PayPal Holdings Inc. and EBay Inc.
Based in Lehi, Utah, Ancestry.com has more than 3.6 million subscribers and more than 18 million people in its DNA network. It sells at-home DNA testing kits to customers, competing with 23andMe Inc.
Blackstone Group Inc., the world’s largest alternative asset manager, purchased a 75% stake in the company last August for $4.7 billion. Silver Lake and Singaporean sovereign wealth fund GIC Pte. had owned the company since 2016 and GIC still holds about a 25% stake. Ancestry first went public in 2009, raising $100 million. It was taken private in 2012 in a $1.6 billion buyout led by private equity firm Permira.
Ancestry’s previous CEO, Margo Georgiadis, announced last year that she was stepping down at the end of 2020, at the same time the Blackstone acquisition was completed.
Liu’s experience at Facebook will influence her new role at Ancestry.
“I would love to make Ancestry more social and easier to share,” Liu said in an interview with Bloomberg TV’s Emily Chang. “Hopefully grandkids will be able to access it someday. How do you actually connect people with a family history, a legacy you can leave behind for your family?”
While at Facebook, Liu became close with Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, who interviewed Liu when she first joined the company and recalled Liu’s persistence in pushing for the Marketplace product at Facebook.
“There aren’t enough female CEOs out there and there aren’t enough female technologists out there and Deb is both,” Sandberg said in the interview. “I would love for us to keep every amazing person we’ve ever hired but if people want to go on and do the next thing – we support that.”
(Updates with Blackstone purchase in fourth paragraph.)