Ancestry’s Deb Liu on 2024: ‘Ruthless prioritization’ is critical to success: Deb Liu, CEO and president of Ancestry, told Business Insider that the COVID-19 pandemic made them realize how important it is to pass on family memories because so many lost elderly relatives.

She mentioned that the passing of a loved one prompted her to seek out her uncle’s recollection of a tale from her family’s past. “That story is precious to me because it’s something I never knew,” remarked the woman. No one else will know that backstory, I thought to myself. What time was it? No. But simultaneously, would I have ever had the opportunity to capture that? While most of the genealogy is centered around archives and documents, according to Liu, it’s “about the stories and journeys people made,” like “how our parents came to America, how our great-grandparents traveled from there to here.”

By offering free and paid genealogical services and DNA testing, Ancestry aims to assist individuals in discovering their family tree roots. She added that new opportunities for several family members to explore their heritage together are something that Liu is looking forward to. Liu expressed her desire to meet clients where they are, even though she knows that Ancestry isn’t essential, particularly for those uncertain about their finances. Corporate America’s vision, strategy, and problems are explored in Business Insider’s year-end leadership package, “Looking Ahead 2024,” which includes Liu’s observations.

What are you looking forward to in 2024?

Expanding internationally and advancing DEI initiatives are two notable points. We’re always trying to expand our product’s reach to other parts of the world. Additionally, we aim to raise awareness of our DEI initiatives within and outside our platform. Our business and product will be strengthened by including varied voices and stories.

How can we ensure that individuals like you and Liu, who are both of East Asian origin, have access to the identical high-quality records that you have, for example, from a parish in Cornwall?

To ensure that people of all races and ethnicities can use the product to its full potential, we are actively working to make it more inclusive. Respect for one’s Ancestry runs deep among them.

What is your biggest concern for 2024?

The persistent unpredictability of the economy is the source of my most significant concern. Given that Ancestry is a subscription-based business, it is only natural that we rely on the consistency and confidence of our clients to justify their commitment to our service. However, we are not always sure where our customers will be because of the growing geopolitical instability and the financial issues they face, such as the debt they have on their credit cards and their households.

What is one thing you got right in 2023?

Ancestry’s Deb Liu on 2024: Ruthless prioritization is paramount. As you can see, technology businesses are removing the components that aren’t functioning well, and we are not an exception to this trend. We have merely stated, “Hey, we have accomplished a great deal.” Let’s figure out what will be successful and put our money into those things. Take the time to comprehend them.

The second half of this year was spent putting together a scorecard for the team. We made it a daily habit to review that scorecard. Such a high concentration level gives you much momentum once version one is released. You receive feedback from customers.

If it takes eighteen months to construct anything, you will receive feedback once you have published it. And suddenly, you will be required to iterate. We decided to get it out in half a year. Then, figure out the input needed to construct versions two and three.

This year’s efforts have resulted in a road map for 2024 that is far more accurate.

What’s one thing you got wrong in 2023?

Ancestry’s Deb Liu in 2024: To attempt to do too much is a simple task. The phrase “ruthless prioritization” is something that I wish we had done earlier in the year. Although we arrived at the point where we needed to make a call to obtain the route plan for the year 2024, I wish we hadn’t waited. It is simple to let things pass when you say, “We can just manually do X for a while.”

The longer you wait, however, the more difficult it becomes, and it never becomes simpler. On my team’s behalf, I asked, “What is the future you wish you’d done today. Even while it is simple for a leadership team to say, “Next year, we want to do X,” I posed the following question. “Imagine that this same group has been sitting here for five years.” And what is it that they wish we would want to do? Choosing long-term success over short-term delivery or development is simple and straightforward. That is the continual touchstone that we use, saying, “Let’s ask our future selves what they wish we did today,” and that is precisely what we should do.


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