It all started with a couple of entrepreneurial students selling floppy disks from the back seat of their car.

Fast forward 20 years and what became the biggest genealogy search service in the world,, would be bought out by a private equity company in a $1.6bn deal.

Paul Allen (who says he’s the ‘lesser’ one after his Microsoft namesake) and Dan Taggart, both Brigham Young University graduates, launched Infobases, a company offering Latter-Day Saints publications on disks in 1990.

Infobases was named in Inc magazine’s list of the 500 fastest-growing companies in 1994 and hurtled toward success, something Taggart once put down to a ‘Mormon economic base’.It wasn’t long before the young entrepreneurs had staked a claim in Ancestry magazine.

How it all works: A family tree made on the genealogy website

Now, two decades later, what began as back-seat business has become the world’s foremost site for peopel to go to research their roots, taking the era by storm.

Allen and his brother, Curt, remain involved with the company, while Taggart has since moved on but still retains a seat on the board.

The website announced on Monday that it had agreed a deal with London-based Permira having rejected at least three earlier offers as they were not high enough.

The deal will likely make multi-millionaires not just out of the founding pair, but also out of’s chief executive Tim Sullivan and other senior executives.

Interest in family has been fuelled by TV shows such as NBC’s ‘Who Do you Think You Are?’ and investigators at who have researched the genealogies of many celebrities.

DNA testing also allows you to now find out more about your family history than was imaginable even five years ago.

Permira’s offer of $32 per share is a nearly 10 per cent higher than Friday’s closing price for of $29.18.

The company was listed at just $21 in June and since then three other private equity firms have tried unsuccessfully to buy it.


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