Wednesday, 28 November 2012

MyHeritage acquires Geni.com

Major news from My Heritage (www.myheritage.com):

We’re thrilled to announce today that we’ve acquired Geni.com, the Los Angeles-based family tree network. Geni.com is one of the leading family tree websites and it has established a very strong global brand since its inception in 2007. We’re really excited to welcome Geni.com’s talented team to the MyHeritage family.

This is great news all round! As a larger community, the users of MyHeritage and Geni.com can expect to benefit greatly from this acquisition. Users of each website will now receive matches with the family trees of the other website, and MyHeritage’s Smart Matching and Record Matching technologies will benefit the Geni.com users, who will get access to historical records never available before on Geni.com.

This is our eighth and largest acquisition yet. It comes at a time when we’re rapidly growing, adding more records, and offering additional technologies to help you make family history breakthroughs.

The websites of MyHeritage and Geni.com will be kept separate and the users of MyHeritage will not experience any changes in how they use MyHeritage. If you already happen to have an account on MyHeritage and on Geni.com, they will be kept separate.

Why did we buy Geni.com?
Geni.com was launched in 2007, four years after MyHeritage was founded, and quickly became one of the major players in the family tree industry. Although we’ve been competitors all these years, we’ve always had mutual respect for each other. When we introduced MyHeritage to people, we often heard them say “oh, you’re like Geni”. Geni.com grew a very large user base of 7 million registered users (compared to the 65 million users on MyHeritage), who had uploaded more than 135 million profiles to the Geni.com website (compared to about 1.35 billion on MyHeritage). Geni.com was the company that innovated and developed the first collaborative viral online family tree editor, and has pioneered the World Family Tree – a vision (and powerful tool) to combine the family trees of the world into a single collaborative tree, much like Wikipedia (in fact, Geni.com’s original name was Wikigenia).

We bought Geni.com to expand the users and data on MyHeritage, to add Geni.com’s talented workforce to our team, to add the technologies they have built to our assets, and to continue our mission of helping families everywhere build their family tree and research and share their family history online.

With Geni.com’s focus on collaborative family history and the fact they, like us, have users from around the world, we’ll be able to bring even more innovation and powerful tools and services to family history lovers everywhere.

How will the two websites operate?
We will keep the two websites separate and will not move users from one site into the other. MyHeritage will remain a forest of independent private family trees, and Geni.com will remain focused on building a single family tree of the world. Over time (it may take a few years), we will be looking to create more value for the users of the two websites, and will consider building a bridge between them to allow users who wish this to have a tree on both MyHeritage and Geni.com to enjoy the best of both worlds, and have changes made in their tree on one site reflected automatically in the other.

What are the benefits for MyHeritage users?
Buying Geni.com is a huge boost to our family history network – adding a new community with a large amount of high-quality, user-generated family tree content from around the world. This means MyHeritage users will receive more matches, and will have more data to search and find through SuperSearch. Geni.com’s unique projects and discussions will be made available to MyHeritage users. If a long-lost cousin of yours has been building his or her family tree on Geni.com, you’ll now have the opportunity to find each other and be reunited.

You’ll also benefit from a larger team of highly-skilled programmers and family history enthusiasts working together to develop exciting new technologies and products. Together with Geni.com, we form one of the world’s largest genealogy think tanks, spending our days and nights thinking how to develop better tools for family history lovers everywhere. Instead of duplicating many of our efforts we will now be able to develop new products faster and leverage from the unique areas of expertise that each team brings.

How will user data be kept private?
Family trees on MyHeritage will be kept on MyHeritage. We will be reviewing Geni.com’s privacy policy, making it tighter and more private to be more compatible with MyHeritage’s privacy policy. For example, just like living people from MyHeritage are not searchable on Google, we will do the same for Geni.com.

How does this affect Geni.com?
We will continue to operate Geni.com as a separate website based out of Los Angeles and it will maintain the name of Geni.com. We intend to continue to develop Geni.com’s vision for the World Family Tree, and put more resources behind it to help it realize it’s potential. Many benefits are coming to the users of Geni.com thanks to the technologies and expertise of MyHeritage.com.

MyHeritage offers more products than Geni.com, such as DNA tests, and these will be made available very soon to the users of Geni.com. Smart Matching and Record Matching developed by MyHeritage will gradually be made available on Geni.com. We are also excited about the opportunity to work with the more than 100 curators on Geni.com.
How does this affect the family history market?

Combined, MyHeritage+Geni is a major player in the family history industry. This is great news for the wider family history community. Since launching our Record Matching technology in September, we’re now able to offer even more value - engaging a wider community around the world and creating the world’s most diverse collection of family history content.

How big does this make MyHeritage?
With Geni.com under our umbrella - along with WorldVitalRecords.com and FamilyLink.com and our previous acquisitions - we now have 1.5 billion family tree profiles, 72 million registered users and 27 million family trees. Geni.com’s World Family Tree, collaborative projects, discussions and other unique features provide important new resources for family historians.

How many staff will join MyHeritage and who are the key players?
We’re excited to welcome on board the entire staff at Geni, including some extraordinary talent in engineering, R&D and user experience. All 20 employees of Geni.com have joined the MyHeritage team, and together we now have 130 employees in MyHeritage. Geni.com will continue to be managed locally by former Geni CEO, Noah Tutak who is becoming the General Manager for MyHeritage in the USA. Geni.com’s CTO Justin Balthrop and VP Engineering Mike Stangel are becoming VPs of technology and engineering for MyHeritage. David Sacks, Geni’s founder and a legendary visionary in the family history market, who is also the founder and CEO of Yammer, is joining the MyHeritage Board of Directors. Geni.com’s Los Angeles offices will become a new research and development hub for MyHeritage in the USA, alongside our existing content offices in Utah.

How much did MyHeritage pay to acquire Geni.com?
As both companies are private we do not disclose the financial terms of the acquisition.

We look forward to the road ahead as we provide more value for MyHeritage and Geni.com users.

(With thanks to Laurence Harris)

Chris

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