The story of Trace isn’t one that I’ve seen covered on any domain-related blogs, but it is a fantastic example of a company rebrand, with a category defining domain acquisition on top.
Founded in 2015, Trace started life as AncestorCloud, an adequate name that did convey what the company offered, but AncestorCloud pivoted and with a slightly different product range AncestorCloud didn’t match the company’s product offering or its ambitions.
Founder Wesley Eames told me: “We spent hundreds of hours identifying the best possible one-word to describe who we are and what we do.” That’s when Eames found Trace.com.
“We found Trace.com redirecting to Draganfly (spelled wrong!) Innovations and I found the COO and CEO on AngelList and reached out. The COO was open to talking and I let them know I wanted to buy it.”
This rebranding followed an $895,000 seed funding round that closed in mid-late 2016. Trace, a common English word, is perhaps one of the best domain names possible for genealogy.
Initially, AncestorCloud offered cloud storage and sharing for genealogy documents, but switching to Trace allowed the company to pivot into a marketplace to buy and sell genealogy services. It’s an ingenious solution for anyone looking for help with tracing family history. Genealogy is a popular hobby, with a Time article from 2014 telling the story of “how genealogy became almost as popular as porn.”
At the same time as announcing AncestorCloud’s rebranding to Trace, the company also announced its acquisition of Genealogists.com, a category-defining domain with a business attached.
Trace announced its rebrand to the world in July 2017.
Did was the rebrand fortuitous for Trace? According to Eames, “We immediately got on everyone’s radar as a brand serious about changing the fusty industry of genealogy.”