True Search Recruits CEO for Ancestry

Deborah Liu, who led Facebook’s marketplace product group, becomes the new CEO of the family history and consumer genomics company. “We are excited about Ancestry’s future and look forward to partnering with Deb as she leads the company into its next phase of growth,” say leaders at PE firm Blackstone, which recently acquired Ancestry.

February 8, 2021 – Executive search firms have been stepping up their efforts to assist private equity-backed firms across the nation find top-level talent, including chief executives, chief people officers, CFOs and a plethora of C-suite roles – all seen as key players as organizations grapple with the continued fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. To that end, Haddonfield, NJ-based executive recruitment firm True Search recently placed former Facebook executive Deborah Liu as the new CEO of Ancestry in Lehi, UT. The search team included co-founder and partner Tim McDonald, partner Agata de Reyes, senior associate Lely DeSimone and associate Eva King.

“Ancestry already leads the field in its category but still has the potential to attract many new customers and grow its business further,” said Mark Thompson, chairman of Ancestry’s board of directors. “In the course of an extensive search, it became clear to all of us that Deb was the perfect next CEO of Ancestry. She has a proven track record of product innovation and deep experience in building global consumer technology platforms. She is an outstanding leader able to inspire and motivate teams to achieve their goals.” Private equity firm Blackstone acquired Ancestry in December. In a statement, David Kestnbaum, a senior managing director at Blackstone, and Sachin Bavishi, a managing director at Blackstone, said: “Deb is a terrific leader with a very strong track record of driving innovation and growth, as well as building world-class product and technology platforms. We are excited about Ancestry’s future and look forward to partnering with Deb as she leads the company into its next phase of growth.”

Ms. Liu joins Ancestry from Facebook where she most recently created and led Facebook’s marketplace product group. Prior to Facebook, she held leadership roles at eBay and PayPal. Ms. Liu joins is actively involved in promoting diversity and women in technology and co-created the Women in Product non-profit. She is also a member of the board of directors of Intuit Inc.

“It’s an honor to join Ancestry. I’m excited to help craft the company’s next chapter, accelerating growth in family history subscriptions and AncestryDNA by bringing the product to more people around the world,” said Ms. Liu. “I have tremendous admiration for Ancestry’s rich history and powerful mission to empower journeys of personal discovery to enrich lives. Finding and sharing our family history and understanding the challenges and triumphs our ancestors faced helps us feel a greater sense of connection and belonging and ultimately realize our shared humanity. We are very excited about Ancestry’s future, as the company continues to demonstrate strong growth as the industry leader.”

Ancestry is a global provider of family history and consumer genomics. With a collection of more than 27 billion records and over 18 million people in our growing DNA network, customers can discover their family story. The company has over 3.6 million subscribers, with annual revenue of over $1 billion.

Blackstone is a global investment firm. Its $584 billion in assets under management include investment vehicles focused on private equity, real estate, public debt and equity, life sciences, growth equity, opportunistic, non-investment grade credit, real assets and secondary funds, all on a global basis.

Serving the Private and Public Sectors

Working in both the private and public sectors, True Search has offices throughout the U.S. as well as the EMEA and APAC regions. Since the late 1990s, the firm’s founders have refined their search process with a blend of data-centric insights, relationship-building, and experience to produce a methodology that consistently improves hiring decisions and accelerates growth. Clients include: Jet, Work Front and Summit Partners. True Search is a subsidiary of True Platform, a global portfolio of human capital services and products for high-growth tech and tech-enabled organizations.

Related: Talent Challenges Facing Mid-Market Private Equity Backed Companies

This past September,  True Search expanded with a new official practice dedicated to private equity firms and their portfolio companies. The formation of True’s private equity practice is expected to bring greater business insights, executive talent networks and collective expertise to PE brands such as Warburg Pincus, Vista Equity, JMI Equity, Summit Partners, Susquehanna Growth Equity, L Catterton and others. “Private equity is a $3 trillion industry that requires not only a mastery of knowledge of the space itself, but also a tailored outlook and a passion for creating value,” said Joe Riggione, co-CEO at True. “We’ve assembled an exceptional team of dedicated experts who will strengthen the existing strategic partnerships with our clients and candidates. This natural progression for us also enables us to reach even more firms seeking growth opportunities and quality executives to lead the charge,” he said.

Recently listed as one of the top 75 firms on Hunt Scanlon’s Power 75 Rankings for PE recruiting work, True’s PE experience spans growth equity, mid-market and large buyout firms. The firm’s team brings experience as a trusted advisor and strategic search partner in placing both operating partners in PE firms, and executives and board members in portfolio companies that have driven material transformation, measurable EBITDA improvements, and successful exits through acquisitions and IPOs.

Experienced Recruiters

Mr. McDonald has 15 years of executive search experience across a range of industries for venture capital and private equity-backed technology companies. His specialties include CEO and president/COO searches as well as “go-to-market” positions across North America.

Ms. de Reyes has extensive experience as an executive search professional and as a marketing and strategy executive for publicly traded and privately held organizations. Over the course of her career, she has developed global experience spanning the Americas, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

Ms. DeSimone works within True’s CEO/BOD practice in the New York office. Prior to joining True Search, she was at Korn Ferry where she worked in the sports practice. Ms. King is an associate in the Haddonfield, NJ office. She graduated from Colorado College in 2020 and joined the firm shortly after.

Related: Leadership Dilemma Unfolding at Private Equity Firms

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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