Geni.com Adds Historical Records to Advance Family Tree Collaboration

The following was received from Amanda Tantisalidchai at Geni.com:

Major new features launched to help Geni.com users enrich the World Family Tree and discover unknown relatives
geni-logo
Los Angeles, USA – April 23 2013: Geni.com, the leader in collaborative family history, today announced the release of two major new features, Record Matching and Smart Matching™, which enrich family trees with relevant historical records and help users discover unknown relatives and ancestors, respectively. This will add significant new detail and color to the World Family Tree, a global initiative by Geni.com that shows how everyone in the world is related, and will help members learn more about their shared ancestries.

The move upgrades Geni.com from a family tree network into a more comprehensive service that includes historical records, fulfilling the promise of its parent company MyHeritage that acquired Geni.com in November 2012. Record Matching and Smart Matching™ are unique technologies developed by MyHeritage which are now made available on Geni.com for the first time. They are designed to automatically search the massive MyHeritage database and suggest matching historical records and family connections that can then be added by users in one click to their family tree on Geni.com.

These new enhancements will illuminate the legacies of the millions of individuals in the World Family Tree, and allow the community to conduct family history research collectively. Enabling members to immediately leverage the work of fellow family historians without duplication is an industry-first. Once a record is confirmed and added to the World Family tree, sources and citations are automatically created, allowing users to view information in the right context. This makes the World Family Tree a more accurate and better documented resource, like the value added by footnotes at the bottom of every article in Wikipedia.

“We’re thrilled to integrate MyHeritage’s groundbreaking features of Record Matching and Smart Matching™ and extend them to our loyal community of Geni.com members and curators”, said Noah Tutak, formerly CEO of Geni.com and now General Manager, USA of MyHeritage. “By adding historical records and unique family tree matching capabilities to the World Family Tree, it becomes the authoritative reference for the human family tree and the go-to resource for anyone interested in family history. This is a great stride in advancing Geni.com to fulfill its mission.”

Record Matching
Record Matching is the next generation of family history exploration. It finds matches between family trees and a massive database of global historical records on Geni.com’s parent site, MyHeritage. The records include birth, marriage, death and divorce documents, gravestone photos, census information, military, immigration and other documents. It’s the only service of its kind to automatically find relevant newspaper articles, books and other free text content through semantic analysis, to shed light on the actual lives, personalities and achievements of one’s ancestors.

Smart Matching™
Smart Matching™ automatically finds matches for family trees on Geni.com in the global database of family trees, containing more than a billion profiles, on its parent site MyHeritage. These matches allow Geni.com members to grow their family tree, discover new ancestors and relatives, connect with other family tree owners and reunite with long lost family members. Sophisticated name-matching technology uses synonyms, phonetics and international variations to facilitate discoveries despite differences in spelling and language.

The two matching technologies work together in a cycle that constantly pushes forward the users’ knowledge of their family history. They were both developed by MyHeritage and integrated into Geni.com by the companies’ combined engineering teams.

Record Matches and Smart Matches™ are displayed on Geni.com family trees and individual profiles. Users can also view a list of all Record Matches and Smart Matches™ in their Merge Center, where they can sort, view, confirm or reject them. Confirming a match adds a reference to the tree on Geni.com in a single click. These features will continue to improve over time; planned enhancements include regular email updates about new matches and the ability to extract information from records into Geni.com using a convenient interface.

Record Matches are displayed for free as an extract and a range of record collections can be viewed in full for free. For full access to every type of historical record and to all Smart Matches, users are offered an affordable Data subscription. The same subscription also provides full and unlimited access to SuperSearch, the powerful search engine for historical records on MyHeritage.

Anyone can join, contribute to and benefit from the World Family Tree by signing up to Geni at www.geni.com. Basic accounts are free and are unlimited in size.

About Geni.com
Geni.com is the leader in collaborative family history and the home of the World Family Tree, a global initiative showing how everyone is related. The collective research of casual and expert family historians benefits the entire community of people interested in discovering and preserving their family history. The site was founded by David Sacks, co-founder of PayPal and Yammer. For more details, visit www.geni.com.

MyHeritage Now Acquires Geni and Gets 25 M $ in Investor Capital


It’s not been all that long ago that I was writing about MyHeritage’s acquisition of WorldVitalRecords. I was excited about that merger, which has proved to be a good move for both MyHeritage as well as WorldVitalRecords. The headquarters of MyHeritage and WorldVitalRecords were worlds apart – with MyHeritage based near Tel Aviv, Israel, and WorldVitalRecords being in Orem, Utah.

Now MyHeritage has acquired the Los Angeles, California based Geni.com. This acquisition made a lot of sense, as Geni comes with a user base of 7 million registered users (as compared to the 65 million users of MyHeritage), who have uploaded more than 135 million profiles to the Geni.com website (as compared to about 1.35 billion on MyHeritage). As you can see, MyHeritage was by far the larger operation of the two. However, Geni was a popular U.S. operation with an interesting pedigree of its own. Geni was founded by none other than David Sacks – the guy who is said to be behind the enormous success of PayPal. Sacks is also the founder and CEO of Yammer. He will now join the MyHeritage Board of Directors.

I see this acquisition as a win for the genealogy community. MyHeritage is reporting that users of both MyHeritage and Geni 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 not accessible before at Geni.com. Being one of the “old timers” of the commercial genealogy community, I still think it’s important that the folks who run these large genealogy powerhouses also now a bit about the hobby itself – and that they just might be putting all these efforts into something that they are passionate about – not just for the money, but for love of family and community. I see the MyHeritage purchase of Geni as fitting into this mold. MyHeritage CEO, Gilad Japhet, started his operation by building a family tree program to fit his own needs, as at the time he couldn’t find a program that he felt did the job. It’s nice to know that we’ve got a genealogist running what’s now become a multinational family history company.

25 Million Dollars in New Venture Capital
I got a note this morning from Daniel Horowitz this morning stating that they have raised $25 million to boost MyHeritage’s operations in the years ahead and allow MyHeritage continue to grow and provide better services to their users. The funding round was led by Bessemer Venture Partners (BVP), along with existing investors Index Ventures, and Accel Partners. This will have a positive effect on all the MyHeritage operations, including WorldVital Records, here in Utah.

I think it’s been a good week for genealogy!

By the way, I just ran a WorldVitalRecords promotion on GenealogyBlog, as well as in Genealogy Newsline. It ended Tuesday night. In light of this new good news about MyHeritage, I made a few calls today and got permission to re-up the WVR Promotion and run it again through Friday night, midnight MDT, November 30. It’s a great deal at ony $69 for 14 months – less than 1/2 the normal cost. Click here to learn more. And yes, I have an affiliate relationship with WorldVitalRecords. I’ve worked with them in one way or another since their founding, and plan to continue to do so.

Click here to read more about the acquisition at the MyHeritage Blog.

Geni.com Debuts Their Geni Plus Service

The following news release was posted on Marketwire today. The changes at Geni.com, with the addition of the subscription programs, have not been without controversy.

WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA–(Marketwire – Sep 13, 2011) – Geni, the collaborative family history community home to the largest, most accurate “World Family Tree,” today debuted its Geni Plus family tree research service. Designed for casual genealogists who want to collaborate with others on their family tree, Geni Plus is an enhancement to its free service tier and is available today for $4.95/month.

Before today, Geni offered only Basic (free) service and Pro ($12.95/month) membership tiers. Recent changes to these services, aimed to increase the collaboration and accuracy of the World Family Tree, and the resulting community feedback highlighted the need for a service designed for the more active social genealogist conducting research on their family tree.

“Our vision has always been focused on fostering a strong community of casual and expert genealogists who will work together to build one connected world family tree that includes a profile for every person who’s ever lived,” said Noah Tutak, Geni CEO. “We recognize that some people are more interested in sharing their personal family trees with their relatives than building the world family tree. The new Geni Plus is designed to give these members more power to build their personal family trees while discovering some of the benefits of working with others on their family history.”

Geni Plus offers benefits in addition to those found in the basic service, including:

  • No limit on number of relatives one can add to their family tree
  • Send unlimited virtual birthday and anniversary gifts to family and friends
  • Discover relationships to distant relatives, celebrities and historical figures
  • Export a GEDCOM file for any profile one can view on Geni (up to 100,000 records)
  • Access to Geni’s expert customer service staff
  • An ad free experience

Those choosing to use the free Geni Basic service can start creating their family tree by creating profiles for close relatives, inviting family and friends to join their family tree and contribute, receive event reminders for family birthdays and anniversaries, upload and share unlimited photos, videos and documents and access community features such as discussion groups and genealogy projects. While free members do not have access to live customer service help, they can use Geni’s robust self-help tools to quickly find solutions to common problems and ask for help from others in the Geni community.

Geni Pro provides serious genealogists the power to instantly discover new relatives while browsing, merge with other trees to quickly grow their family tree, search more than 100 million genealogy profiles for potential relatives, create/edit public profiles, and connect to the World Family tree of more than 58 million profiles.

About Geni, Inc.
Geni is an online community of casual and expert genealogists working together to create a single World Family Tree. Members can invite relatives to help them build their family tree with no limit to the number of people, documents, photos or videos added. They can then discover how they are related to celebrities, historical figures and other members of the World Family Tree. Privately held and based in Los Angeles, Geni’s financial backers include Founders Fund and Charles River Ventures. It was founded by David Sacks, the original chief operating officer of PayPal and founder of Yammer, Inc.

Geni.com Continues Growth

The following News Release is from PR-USA.net:


Geni, the collaborative family history community and home of the “World Family Tree,” today announced continued strong growth including the promotion and addition of key team members across the organization.

With a growing user base and more than 100 million family profiles added by the Geni community, 55 million of which are connected to the World Family Tree, the company promoted two essential employees to the executive team:

  • Justin Balthrop is now chief technology officer, responsible for the technology strategy of the company.
  • Michael Stangel takes over as vice president of engineering, overseeing the engineering and operations teams.

To further develop business initiatives and better serve its growing community, Geni also promoted and added the following employees:

  • Michael Berkovich is promoted to technical lead, platform, responsible for core technologies such as Geni’s API and mobile offerings. He will interact with API partners to ensure that the API and Geni platform promote innovation in genealogy.
  • Ian McDaniel is promoted to director of product development, overseeing design and front-end development.
  • Greg Drewganis, formerly of Playboy Enterprises, Inc. and Encyclopedia Britannica, joins as director of monetization. He will drive efforts to increase Geni’s subscriber base and will work to form strategic partnerships that add additional revenue streams.
  • Charles Edmonds, previously at MySpace, is now customer service manager, ensuring Geni community members continue to receive superior support and service.
  • Michelle Kempner, former director of the solutions architecture group at Schematic, joins as user experience designer. She will ensure that Geni appeals to both expert and casual users alike.
  • Alan Malloy, formerly of HubPages, joins as senior software engineer. He is the latest addition to the growing team of Clojure programmers working on Geni’s core technology.

“Public curiosity around family history and relationships to various historical figures and celebrities is at an all time high, and is driving millions of people to create and connect family trees,” said Noah Tutak, Geni CEO. “Collaboration is the future of genealogy, and Geni’s strong and growing team will help drive these efforts as well as our next phase of growth.”

Millions of Geni members, both casual and expert genealogists, are creating a single World Family Tree comprised of interconnected family trees from across the entire world. Visitors can sign up for free and easily add and find family members at geni.com.

About Geni, Inc.
Geni is an online collaborative family history community that provides casual and expert genealogists with an easy and comprehensive way to document personal family trees and join the World Family Tree. Members can add and invite relatives to build their family tree, with no limit on the number of people, documents, photos or videos added, while personally connecting with history and finding out how they are related to others in the World Family Tree. Privately held and based in Los Angeles, Geni is financially supported by the Founders Fund and Charles River Ventures and was founded by David Sacks, the original Chief Operating Officer of PayPal and founder of Yammer, Inc.