FamilyLink.com & WorldVitalRecords.com Acquired by MyHeritage.com

I’ve known for some time now that FamilyLink, and it’s subsidiary, WorldVitalRecords.com had been sold. As a data provider, I was asked to sign paperwork allowing my data to transfer, and keep my mouth shut. However, I didn’t know who bought the company. I just got a call from one of my friends at FamilyLink who let me know that the acquisition announcement had just gone out on Techcrunch, and I could pass the word on to you folks.

I’m excited about the acquisition. The Israeli company, MyHeritage, has a huge following – especially in Europe – and the principles of the company are folks that I’ve grown to like and admire. Following is the news release:

Israeli company MyHeritage, which operates a huge family-based social network has acquired FamilyLink, the developer behind family history
content sites FamilyLink.com and WorldVitalRecords.com.

While financial terms of the deal are not being disclosed, this is MyHeritage’s seventh and largest acquisition since 2007. Past acquisitions include Germany’s OSN, Poland’s Bliscy.pl, Dutch Family Network ZOOOF and most recently BackupMyTree.

MyHeritage has a simple goal: to help people discover who they are related to and help maintain these connections. The company’s Smart Matching technology takes data entered in and matches info with other family trees and data that people have entered in to the site to find relatives and explore their family history.

The site also offers a private home on the web for exploring family history and keeping in touch; allowing users to create their own family website, share pictures and videos, organize family events, create family trees and discover ancestors and long-lost relatives.

Backed by Accel and Index Ventures, MyHeritage.com boasts an international registered member base of 60 million users, offers its services in 38 languages, and is home to more than 900 million profiles and 21 million family trees. And the company is profitable.

For the company, Utah-based FamilyLink furthers MyHeritage’s presence in the US.>, and boosts MyHeritage’s offering to families with the addition of a database of more than 3 billion historical records.

Founded in 2006, both FamilyLink.com and WorldVitalRecords.com are subscription services which provide access to a huge database of historical content, covering several billion individuals within census, birth, marriage and death records, as well as the web’s largest archive of historical newspapers.

With offices and staff in Europe, Australia and Israel; MyHeritage will now be adding its first US-based office in Utah, the home of FamilyLink.com.

As MyHeritage founder and CEO Gilad Japhet says, “We’ll be able to find your mother’s yearbook, your great- grandfather’s will and your ancestor’s immigration record…We’ll do that on a massive, global scale, as we live in a world
that is smaller and more tightly connected than ever before”.

The CEO of FamilyLink.com, Paul Brockbank, previously CEO of Logoworks and GM of Hewlett Packard Web Print Solutions, will later join the MyHeritage advisory board. FamilyLink.com founder Paul Allen, previously a co-founder of Ancestry.com, will not be part of the merger with MyHeritage.

MyHeritage faces competition from the less social Ancestry.com, which is more US focused. But most people’s deep family trees span languages and borders. And while MyHeritage has a big global audience, FamilyLink should help the company broaden its user base in the U.S.

Facebook Genealogy Apps Are Temporarily Suspended

Several websites have posted that FamilyLink’s We’re Related (20.4 million users) & Familybuilder’s Family Tree (5.3 million users) were suspended by Facebook last Friday night – being told that “Your application contains ads that link to landing pages completely unrelated to the content in the ad and thus are misleading.”

Here’s hoping that this mess gets straightened out, as a lot of folks use those services. I’m sure that this had the folks at FamilyLink and Familybuilder scrambling. As long as they can get rid of the offending ads, things will get back to normal shortly. Paul Jeffries from Facebook’s Platform Policy team posted the following on the company’s Developer Forum:

In addition to prior enforcements, recently some applications were temporarily suspended for running a high percentage of violating ads. These poor ads — even from a small number of applications — can diminish user confidence in all advertising, adversely impacting the entire Platform ecosystem. However, these apps were not permanently disabled, and assuming there are no other policy violations, will be restored in several days at the end of the scheduled suspensions. We do want to note that in some cases apps may be permanently disabled for ad violations.

For more information, read David Cohen’s column.

Read more at Inside Facebook.

Read more at Gigaom.com.

WorldVitalRecords.com Opens Site Allowing for Free Public Access to More Than One Billion Family History Records With the Addition of the Largest Number of Records to be Released in a Single Day Since the Site Launched in 2006

The following was written by FamilyLink staff. It’s a heck of a deal. Click on the graphic to check it out!

Free Site Access 300x250

PROVO, UT, August 11, 2009 – WorldVitalRecords.com, an online family history resource, today announced the addition of the largest number of records to be released in a single day since the site launched in 2006. To commemorate this milestone, for the first time WorldVitalRecords is offering free public access to its entire online collection of historical and genealogical records beginning August 11 and continuing through August 13, 2009. The public will have unlimited access to more than one billion records in over 11,000 databases from around the world including newspapers, census, birth, marriage, death, immigration and military records; family trees; stories and publications; and yearbooks.

“As a genealogy enthusiast, I’m thrilled that people can go to one place like WorldVitalRecords.com, try family history research for free and find their parents or grandparents, and see how simple it is to start tracing back and discovering stories that bring family history to life,” said Jim Ericson, Vice-President of Marketing for Family Link. “This is a rare opportunity to delve into the records and discover information about your family and ancestors you may have never known.”

Featured records in this release include:

Historical Newspapers
Through a partnership with Newspaper Archive, WorldVitalRecords is adding access to pages from a variety of newspapers from all over the United States, dating from 1759 through 1923. This collection features images of entire newspapers from the western frontier, the Midwest at the turn of the century, and the long-time standard of our nation’s news, “The New York Times” which includes over 7 million names. Newspaper Archive produces the largest historical newspaper database online, and the collection is fully searchable by keyword and date, and individual pages can be saved or printed.
According to Gena Philibert Ortega, Genealogy Community Director for FamilyLink, “Part of the fun of family history is uncovering details about our ancestors’ daily lives — the events of the day, the goods and the services they bought. Newspapers allow us to better understand our ancestors.”

Immigration Records
Living in a country of immigrants, ship passenger lists and other records documenting immigration can be an essential part in learning more about your family history. It is a thrilling experience to see their names transcribed on paper the day they entered this country through the Port of New York. Browsing and searching these passenger lists is a perfect way for someone to start researching their family history. This record collection provides documentation of over 150,000 passengers who arrived on nearly 8,000 ships at one of the busiest ports in the United States, New York, from 1820-1832.

Yearbooks
In partnership with the website E-Yearbook.com, WorldVitalRecords is doubling its collection of digitized yearbooks. This collection features university yearbooks from the late 1800 to mid 1950’s. E-Yearbook.com houses the largest collection of old college yearbooks on the Internet. Universities featured this week include Duke University, University of Oklahoma, Iowa State and the College of William and Mary.

Vital Records, Military Records and Tax Lists
Other records being released on the site include birth, marriage, tax lists, military records, and death records from Maine, North Carolina, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Focused on helping users discover and share their family history, WorldVitalRecords adds new records to their online collection everyday.

About WorldVitalRecords.com
WorldVitalRecords.com is simplifying family history research by providing many easy-to-use tools and resources to discover and connect with others interested in family history. WorldVitalRecords provides access to more than one billion international and U.S. records WorldVitalRecords.com provides affordable access to genealogy databases and family history tools used by more than 258,000 monthly visitors. The site registers 3.6 million monthly pages views and serves tens of thousands of paying subscribers. With thousands of databases—including birth, death, military, census, and parish records—.

WorldVitalRecords.com makes it easy to fill in missing information in your family tree.
WorldVitalRecords is part of the FamilyLink.com, Inc. network of family-focused interactive properties including, GenealogyWise, WebTree, WorldHistory, and the We’re Related and My Family applications on Facebook.

Open Forum: Blogging, Social Networking, and Podcasting at the FGS Conference

The following news release was received from George Morgan:

  • Federation of Genealogical Societies 2009 Conference
  • Wednesday, September 2, 2009 from 5:00-6:00 PM
  • Statehouse Convention Center, Governor’s Hall IV

The Federation of Genealogical Societies is pleased to host an open forum for everyone interested in meeting, networking, and discussing blogging, social networks, and podcasting. Everyone is invited, beginner to experienced!

Drew Smith, author of the new landmark book, Social Networking for Genealogists (Genealogical Publishing Co., 2009), will kick off the session. He will briefly describe each of the tools and then open the floor to questions and discussion. Drew will be joined by co-facilitators: Jim Ericson and Gena Ortega of FamilyLink.com, whose services include WorldVitalRecords.com and Genealogy Wise, the new genealogy social network; and George G. Morgan, blogger and co-host of The Genealogy GuysSM Podcast. In addition, bloggers and podcasters will be invited to attend and share their wealth of knowledge and experience.

Attendees are encouraged to ask questions and get to know one another. Everyone will make new friends and connect with people they’ve perhaps only met online. There will be some surprises as well.

Start your FGS Conference experience by “living social” with other attendees. You won’t be disappointed!

For more information about the FGS Conference and to register, please visit the website at http://www.fgs.org.

Contact: George G. Morgan
aha@ahaseminars.com
(813) 205-3032

Surpassing 50 Million Users “We’re Related” Proves Families are Popular on Facebook

FamilyLink.com, Inc. dominates social networking niche with family-focused application We’re Related, a Top 10 Facebook application for over a year

July 20, 2009, Provo, Utah: – Social networks are the perfect environment for keeping families connected, if done right, and FamilyLink.com, Inc. seems to be doing just that. The Company announced today We’re Related, their popular application for Facebook users, has amassed more than 50 million users. The application, currently ranked as the fourth most popular application on Facebook, has remained in the top 10 applications for more than a year (based on number of active users).

This announcement comes at a time when Facebook is seeing a record number of new members joining from the 35+ crowd. Facebook reported earlier this month that the number of US Facebook users over 35 grew significantly in the last 30 days, up by nearly 1.5 million in each of the 35-44, 45-54, and 55-65 categories. In fact, the number of US Facebook users 45-54 has more than tripled in the last six months with parents and grandparents logging on in record numbers. These statistics coincide with growth patterns FamilyLink has experienced with the We’re Related application growing from 15 million users to 50 million users in the last six months.

According to Quantcast, a leading Internet audience tracking service that ranks websites based on the number of unique people who visit each domain, the FamilyLink.com network of web properties attracted more than 15 million unique people in the U.S. and more than 24 million worldwide in the past 30 days, equivalent to one of the 50 most popular online destinations in the U.S.

“We had expected to reach the 50 million mark by the end of the year. Reaching that goal in 6 months is very exciting,” said Jason McGowan, Chief Social Officer for FamilyLink.com, Inc. “We are excited about the growing user base and especially about the activity of the users. As the number of We’re Related users grows, so does the number of connections people are making to their families, now surpassing 300 million.”

Connecting Families
The ease of keeping in touch with family is driving the growth of social networking, and people of all ages find it fun and rewarding to make family connections on Facebook. The We’re Related application makes it easy for Facebook users to identify family members within their social network. With features like photo sharing along with ability to communicate, organize communication, and keep everything private to a desired list of family members, We’re Related makes perfect sense for keeping family together and learning about loved ones.

A survey conducted by FamilyLink in June 2009 revealed that more than 40% of We’re Related users said access to the We’re Related application was important in their decision to join Facebook because it provides the ability to communicate directly with family members through a private news feed.

“Facebook has always been a personal tool for managing relationships,” said McGowan. “We’re Related fits that context perfectly. We are looking forward to future growth, continual innovation, and offering new functionality to our loyal users.”

About FamilyLink.com, Inc.
The leader in social networking for families, FamilyLink has developed a suite of web properties, applications and tools to connect families with each other and their heritage. The FamilyLink network of web properties includes FamilyLink.com, GenealogyWise.com, WorldHistory.com, and WorldVitalRecords.com. FamilyLink is the developer of the fourth most popular networking application on Facebook, We’re Related, with a user base of more than 50 million. FamilyLink.com, Inc. also operates the AdMazing ad network that helps high traffic social applications and sites related to family history and heritage monetize their audiences.

Thanks to Mary Kay Crocker, FamilyLink.com, Inc., for the above news release.

FamilyLink.com, Inc. Launches Genealogy Social Network Website GenealogyWise

The following news release was written by FamilyLink staff:

GenealogyWise.com

Open community-based website represents a new option for family history exploration & a unique way to discover & connect with family.

Provo, UT, July 14, 2009 — FamilyLink.com, Inc. today introduced GenealogyWise.com, a new web property that combines community interaction with tools and resources for people who are interested in researching and sharing their family history with others. GenealogyWise.com joins other web properties operated by FamilyLink.com, Inc. in an effort to connect families with each other and with their histories.

GenealogyWise is an open network that allows anyone to join and create social groups within the genealogy-focused community. The innovative and easy-to-use platform opens the doors of social networking to millions around the world who are interested in sharing their passion for family history and in meeting new people that share that passion.

“FamilyLink is focused on bringing families closer together and in connecting families around the world. GenealogyWise is a natural extension of our social networking efforts,” said Paul Allen, CEO at FamilyLink.com, Inc. “We are thrilled to see the enormous interest in GenealogyWise. More than 3,000 users joined and contributed more than 10,000 items to the site within the first 4/days. The site is being created and driven by the users, truly leveraging the power behind social networks. We believe this type of service – connecting family and family history researchers with others who are interested in and share that same passion – is what makes the site so powerful.”

GenealogyWise community members have contributed thousands of photos and hundreds of videos to the site. They have also created more than 2,000 social groups, some of which already have more than 200 members.

The service allows users to join surname groups, explore ancestral records, share photos, video, and family trees. Users can create a profile to tell others about their research interests, to receive and respond to emails from other users without publishing an email address, to create online family trees and personal research pages, and to collaborate with other users. The service is completely free.

“Social networking platforms provide the perfect technology for sharing genealogy information and connecting with an unlimited number of people from all corners of the globe,” said Allen. “FamilyLink will continue to innovate and provide social experiences on existing platforms and new and emerging platforms as the company extends its reach and expands its efforts to connect families through social networking.”

About FamilyLink.com, Inc.
A leader in social networking for families, FamilyLink has developed a suite of web properties, applications and tools to connect families with each other and their heritage. The FamilyLink network of web properties includes FamilyLink.com, GenealogyWise.com, WorldHistory.com, and WorldVitalRecords.com. FamilyLink is also the developer of the fourth most popular networking application on Facebook, We’re Related, which has a user base of 50 million. The We’re Related application helps individuals stay in touch with their families by connecting them to their possible relatives, and also by sharing photos, news events, links, favorites lists, and more. FamilyLink.com, Inc. also operates the AdMazing ad network that helps high traffic social applications and sites related to family history and heritage monetize their audiences.
For more information visit corporate.familylink.com.

FamilyLink Plays an April Fools Joke…

A Provo company drove up its Web traffic significantly with a little April Fool’s joke involving President Barack Obama and 18 million users of Facebook.

Familylink.com, a 2 -year-old family and social networking company, sent out e-mails to active users of its “We’re Related” application on Facebook, the Web site that allows people to connect with each other and share information about their lives.

“Hi,” said the e-mail, “Barack Obama (Washington, DC) has confirmed you as his fourth cousin once removed.”

Read the full article in the April 1, 2009 edition of The Salt Lake Tribune.

Read about how they did it at the World Vital Records blog… Note that they got to Randy with it and now they are using him as their example (see his picture on the WVR blog). But he’s got a good sense of humor. I’m sure he’s handling it well… (grin)

Cliff Shaw Joins the FamilyLink.com Team as Their Lead Developer

Software developer Cliff Shaw, known as the founder of websites GenForum, GenCircles, and the Family Tree Legends genealogy software has joined FamilyLink.com as their lead developer. I’ve visited with Cliff at various conferences over the years, and have been very favorably impressed with his abilities, as well as the websites. I think he’s a good addition to the FamilyLink team. The following news release was written by FamilyLink staff:

family-link

PROVO, Utah, March 3 /PRNewswire/ — Former founder of numerous genealogy companies and products, Cliff Shaw, recently joined FamilyLink.com, Inc. as its new lead developer.

“FamilyLink is charting new territory in family social networking and it’s exciting to be on the leading edge of this. The growth the company is experiencing, even in a down market, is truly remarkable,” said Cliff Shaw, Lead Developer, FamilyLink.com, Inc. “It’s great to work with such an unbelievably well-rounded team. Paul Allen and I have done great things in the industry working apart. I can’t wait to see what our merged teams can do together.”

“One of my major goals at FamilyLink.com is to assemble the right people to build a great company,” said Paul Allen, CEO, FamilyLink.com, Inc. “Cliff Shaw is a talented addition to our team who definitely knows the ins and outs of how to best connect families.”

As lead developer, Shaw will work toward helping the company become the global leader in family social networking on all social networks and mobile platforms. The FamilyLink.com, Inc. network of sites became one of the Top 500 Web companies in the world in December 2008, based on Quantcast statistics. Currently the network ranks at #154 based on total monthly unique visitors, making the company one of the fastest growing web properties in the world.

“Families are connecting in new ways thanks to social networks. With the increasing distance between family members, online and mobile communication has become vital for many families to stay connected. FamilyLink is on the leading edge of this trend and will help families stay closer,” Shaw said.

Shaw is an entrepreneur who has founded a number of companies in the past 13 years, both in and out of genealogy. At 18, he started GenForum and quickly grew it into the largest family history community on the Internet. GenForum was a top 200 site with more than 75 million monthly page views and remains a popular destination. GenForum was sold to the Learning Company in 1998. In 2000, Shaw founded GenCircles, a user-contributed family tree site that introduced SmartMatching, the first technology that automatically linked users’ family trees. GenCircles grew to become the number two family tree contribution site on the Internet with hundreds of millions of ancestors. In 2001, Shaw founded Pearl Street Software and led the development of Family Tree Legends, the number two family tree software package in worldwide sales. Family Tree Legends received consistent critical acclaim and sold at most major retail outlets in the US and UK. MyHeritage.com acquired Pearl Street Software in 2006 and makes significant use of the SmartMatching technology to this day.

Shaw lives in Boulder, Colorado with his wife and is an avid environmentalist and world traveler.

About FamilyLink.com, Inc.
FamilyLink.com, Inc. is the leading social networking company for families globally. It was formed in 2006 by original founding executives of Ancestry.com and MyFamily.com. The company operates several genealogy web sites and has popular applications on Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, Hi5, and Friendster. The company’s We’re Related application is currently the third most popular application on Facebook and has helped users define nearly 200 million family relationships. FamilyLink.com, Inc. also operates the AdMazing ad network that represents more than 200 million monthly impressions on high traffic family history and heritage sites. Genealogy partners include Everton, brightsolid, Statute of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Genealogical Publishing Company, FindAGrave.com, Godfrey Memorial Library, and FamilySearch.

See Cliff Shaw’s “Our Team” bio at FamilyLink.com

FamilyLink.com Raises 2.85 Million in Series B Funding

The following Press Release is from peHub.

FamilyLink.com recently raised $2.85 million in Series B funding as social networking services continue to grow even during difficult economic times. FamilyLink.com raised its initial round of funding of $1.25 million in August 2007.

Several Series A investors joined the Series B funding round, including vSpring Capital and TTP Capital Advisors of Japan. Several other angel investors joined in the B round.

FamilyLink.com is the developer of “We’re Related,” one of the most popular applications on Facebook. We’re Related is used by nearly a million people every day. The company’s flagship social networking site will launch later this quarter at FamilyLink.com.

“Social networking with family and friends is growing faster than any other online activity,” said CEO Paul B. Allen. “Research shows that protecting the family is the top human value in most nations. Technology enables families to keep in touch despite distance, and we think this desire to stay in touch will only deepen in hard economic times.”

FamilyLink.com turned profitable in late 2008 as it was finalizing its fund-raising efforts. The company employs 30 people in the U.S., including in Seattle, WA, Boulder, CO, and its headquarters in Provo, Utah, and has development offices in India and the Philippines.

The company’s goal is to become the global leader in family social networking on all social networks and mobile platforms. The FamilyLink.com, Inc. network of sites became one of the Top 500 Web companies in the world in December 2008, based on Quantcast statistics. Currently the network ranks at #165 based on total monthly unique visitors, making the company one of the fastest growing web properties in the world.

View Quantcast ranking and traffic estimates for FamilyLink.com

Unlike other social networks, FamilyLink uses family trees and genealogy as a key ingredient in creating engagement in its social networking experience for families. The company owns WorldVitalRecords.com, a popular genealogy subscription site, and later this year will introduce its flagship genealogy web site, GenSeek.com.

“We think GenSeek will become the world’s largest gateway to family history content,” explained Steve Nickle, President. “Combined with our family social networks, it will make it easier than ever before for family members to explore and share their heritage with all of their relatives. Our historic partnership with FamilySearch Catalog will enable us to launch GenSeek.com with links to millions of the world’s most valuable genealogy sources.”

About FamilyLink.com, Inc.
FamilyLink.com, Inc. is the leading social networking company for families globally. It was formed in 2006 by original founding executives of Ancestry.com and MyFamily.com. The company operates several genealogy web sites and has popular applications on Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, Hi5, and Friendster. The company’s We’re Related application is currently the third most popular application on Facebook and has helped users define more than 150 million family relationships. FamilyLink.com, Inc. also operates the AdMazing ad network that represents more than 200 million monthly impressions on high traffic family history and heritage sites. Genealogy partners include Everton, brightsolid, Statute of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Genealogical Publishing Company, FindAGrave.com, Godfrey Memorial Library, and FamilySearch.

See an additional article in the Feb 25, 2009 edition of the Salt Lake Tribune.

FamilyLink.com Announces New CTO

allancarrollThe following news release was written by FamilyLink.

PROVO, UT, January 15, 2009 – FamilyLink.com, Inc. recently named Allan Carroll as its new chief technology officer bringing much expertise, talent, and skill to the Company.

“We are thrilled to have Allan on our team. He is very gifted and will bring much needed experience and skill,” said Paul Allen, CEO, FamilyLink.com, Inc. “In this new role, Allan will help streamline our processes, and will also be instrumental in building the stable architecture we need for long-term growth.”

As CTO, Carroll plans to scale software to support all of the users while continuing to make FamilyLink.com a stable platform for people to connect with their families.

“Allan is ideal for this position. He knows how to work in any organization from organizations such as Microsoft to small startups,” said Paul Allen, CEO, FamilyLink.com, Inc. “Not only is Allan fluent in coding languages such as PHP, C++, PERL, and PYTHON, he also knows how to scale our developer organization and bring it to the next level as FamilyLink.com continues to explode in user growth.”

Carroll recently received his master’s degree in computer engineering from the University of Washington. Prior to working at FamilyLink.com, Inc. Allan worked at Microsoft on its performance team.

“This job was appealing to me because I really wanted to be able to work on something that will change the world for families,” Carroll said. “I am excited because the company is doing so well, and I will be part of an excellent team.”