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Online genealogy boom continues as MyHeritage raises $25 million

Friday, 30 November 2012 | By Michelle Hammond

Israeli company MyHeritage has acquired long-term rival Geni.com after raising $25 million in new funding, as the genealogy industry continues to grow both overseas and in Australia.

 

The deal comes just months after industry leader Ancestry.com was acquired for $1.6 billion.

 

MyHeritage is an online family history network, launched in 2005. It helps families discover and share their legacy online via a range of social tools and a vast library of historical content.

 

Aaron Godfrey, US and UK community manager of MyHeritage, said the company is “thrilled” to announce it has acquired Geni.com, a family tree network based in Los Angeles.

 

“Geni.com is one of the leading family tree websites and it has established a very strong global brand since its inception in 2007,” Godfrey said in a blog.

 

The acquisition extends MyHeritage’s network to 72 million registered users, 1.5 billion profiles and 27 million family trees.

 

Users of each website will receive matches with the family trees of the other site, and Geni.com users will benefit from MyHeritage’s technologies. However, the two sites will remain separate.

 

It’s worth noting this is MyHeritage’s eighth and largest acquisition to date. The deal also saw MyHeritage close a $25 million funding round led by Bessemer Venture Partners.

 

Existing investors Index Partners, Accel Partners and Hasso Plattner Ventures also participated in the round. It brings the total funds raised so far by MyHeritage to US$49 million.

 

The funds will be used to boost the growth of the company’s historical content services and expand commercial operations worldwide.

 

In addition to acquiring significant record collections from Europe and rolling out crowdsourcing projects, the funds will enable MyHeritage to ramp up its international marketing operations.

 

Gilad Japhet, founder and chief executive of MyHeritage, described the news as a “major turning point” for the family history industry.

 

“Over the past few years, our dedicated workforce has transformed MyHeritage from a garage start-up into a successful, dynamic and global company,” Japhet said in a statement.

 

“We look forward to fulfilling our potential and accomplishing our mission to bring family history to the masses.”

 

MyHeritage isn’t the only major player in the family history industry.

 

US industry leader Ancestry.com continues to go from strength to strength after being acquired by an investor group, led by European private equity firm Permira Funds, for about $1.6 billion.

 

The acquisition, which happened in late October, came just a few weeks after Ancestry.com made a purchase of its own, snapping up San Francisco-based start-up 1000 memories.

 

Ancestry.com also owns Archives.com, another US-based start-up.

 

In Australia, Sydney-based start-up Tapestry is preparing to expand into other English-speaking markets after raising $600,000.

 

While Tapestry is centred around families, it doesn’t focus on family history. Rather, it aims to help elderly people stay in contact with relatives.

 

Meanwhile, another Sydney-based start-up, Vimily, is very much focused on family history.

 

Vimily provides a simple do-it-yourself online interview kit to film and share the life stories and lessons of your parents or grandparents.