MyHeritage

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MyHeritage
Logo of MyHeritage website.jpg
Type of businessPrivate
Available in
Founded2003
HeadquartersOr Yehuda, Israel
OwnerMyHeritage Ltd.
Founder(s)Gilad Japhet (CEO)
IndustryInternet
ProductsFamily history website
Genealogy software
Mobile application
MyHeritage DNA
Family Tree Builder
Employees430 [1]
Websitewww.myheritage.com
RegistrationYes
Current statusActive

MyHeritage is an online genealogy platform with web, mobile, and software products and services that was first developed and popularized by the Israeli company MyHeritage in 2003.[2][3][4] Users of the platform can create family trees, upload and browse through photos, and search through over 9 billion historical records, among other features.[5][6][7][8] As of 2018, the service supports 42 languages and has around 92 million users worldwide.[9][10][11] In 2016, it launched a genetic testing service called MyHeritage DNA. In January 2017 it was reported that MyHeritage has 35 million family trees on its website.[12] The company is headquartered in Or Yehuda, Israel[13] with additional offices in Tel Aviv,[14] Lehi, Utah,[15] Kyiv, Ukraine and Burbank, California.

History[edit]

2003–2007: Foundation and early years[edit]

Original MyHeritage office in the village of Bnei Atarot, Israel

MyHeritage was founded in 2003 by Gilad Japhet (who continues to serve as the company's CEO).[2] Japhet started the company from his living room in Bnei Atarot, Israel. For a long time, the company's headquarters were located in a family farmhouse in Bnei Atarot.[16] In its infancy, MyHeritage was almost completely self-funded but had received funds from angel investors by 2005. It switched from a free service to a freemium business model.[2]

Early on, MyHeritage required users to upload genealogical information from desktop software. The information could be viewed online, but could not be altered.[17] In 2006, MyHeritage introduced new features including facial recognition software that recognized facial features from a database of photographs to link individuals together.[18][19] In December 2006, the company acquired Pearl Street Software which was the creator of family tree software (Family Tree Legends) and a family tree submission site (GenCircles) with over 160 million profiles and 400 million public records.[20]

By 2007, MyHeritage had 150,000 family trees, 180 million people profiles, 100 million photos, and 17.2 million users worldwide. The service was available in 17 languages. The company also began offering a new web-based feature that allowed users to upload genealogical information directly to the MyHeritage site. MyHeritage had also received a total of $9 million in investor funding, half of which had come from Accel.[17]

2008–2012: Acquisitions and expansion[edit]

MyHeritage headquarters in Or Yehuda, Israel

In 2008, MyHeritage raised $15 million from an investment group including Index Ventures and Accel.[21] At that time, the website had grown to 260 million people profiles, 25 million users, 230 million photos, and 25 supported languages.[22] Soon after securing funding, MyHeritage acquired Kindo, a UK-based family tree building service.[23] In 2009, the company released a new version of their free genealogy software, Family Tree Builder, which included the ability to sync between the software and the website.[7]

In 2010, the company acquired Germany-based OSN Group, a family tree website network with 7 genealogy sites under its name. Some websites in the OSN network included Verwandt.de in Germany, Moikrewni.pl in Poland, and Dynastree.com in the United States. The acquisition provided MyHeritage with several new features (including coats of arms, family tree merging, and an option to venture into mobile applications) and a total of 540 million people profiles, 47 million active users, and 13 million family trees.[24] In 2011, those numbers increased to 760 million people profiles and 56 million users after MyHeritage acquired Poland-based Bliscy.pl, another genealogy website.[25]

Other 2011 acquisitions included the Dutch family network, Zooof; BackupMyTree, a backup service designed to protect up to 9 terabytes of offline family history data;[26] and FamilyLink, a developer of family history content sites and owner of a large database of historical records (WorldVitalRecords.com, which included census, birth, death, and marriage records along with an archive of historical newspapers). By the end of 2011, MyHeritage had 60 million users, 900 million people profiles, 21 million family trees, and was available in 38 different languages.[27] The company also released the first version of its mobile app for iOS and Android devices.[28]

In 2012, MyHeritage surpassed 1 billion people profiles and launched several new features including SuperSearch, a search engine for billions of historical records, and Record Matching, a technology that automatically compares MyHeritage's historical records to the profiles on the site and alerts users whenever a match is found for a relative in their family tree.[29][30][31]

In November 2012, MyHeritage acquired one of its primary competitors, Geni.com. The company kept all of Geni's employees and operated the company as a separate brand in Los Angeles, California,[32] and, as of 2016, MyHeritage and Geni were still separate.[33] Founded by David Sacks in 2007, Geni is a genealogy website with the goal of "creating a family tree of the whole world"[34] (whereas MyHeritage focuses on records and collecting non-merged individual family trees[35]). The acquisition added 7 million new users to MyHeritage, bringing the total number of members to 72 million.[5] At the time, MyHeritage also had 27 million family trees and 10 billion profiles and was available in 40 languages.[36] In addition to the acquisition of Geni, MyHeritage also raised $25 million in a funding round led by Bessemer Venture Partners.[5]

2013–present: Partnerships, further growth, and beyond[edit]

In 2013, MyHeritage entered into a strategic partnership to allow FamilySearch to use its technologies to allow its users to help find ancestors more easily. At the time of the deal, MyHeritage had 75 million registered users and 1.6 billion people profiles.[6] The company also gained access to all United States census records from 1790 to 1940.[37] In April 2013, MyHeritage released Family Tree Builder 7.0 which included new features like sync, Unicode, and Record Matches.[38] MyHeritage also introduced a web feature called Record Detective that automatically makes connections between different historical records.[39]

In 2014, MyHeritage announced partnerships and collaborations with numerous companies and entities. In February 2014, the company partnered with BillionGraves to digitize and document graves and cemeteries worldwide.[40] In October 2014, the company partnered with EBSCO Information Services to provide educational institutions (libraries, universities, etc.) with free access to MyHeritage's database of historical records.[41] In December 2014, MyHeritage entered into an agreement with the Danish National Archives to index Census and Parish records from 1646 to 1930 (a total of around 120 million records).[42] The company also surpassed 5 billion historical records in their database in 2014[14] and launched the Instant Discoveries feature, which enables users to add whole branches of relatives to their family tree at once.[43]

In 2015, MyHeritage reached 6.3 billion historical records,[15] 80 million registered users, and availability in 42 languages.[10] It also released the Global Name Translation technology which automatically translates names from different languages to make searching for ancestors more efficient.[15]

In March 2016, employees of MyHeritage recorded and preserved the family history of remote peoples in the Highlands Region of Papua New Guinea.[44]

In August 2017, it was announced that the company acquired Millennia Corp. and its Legacy Family Tree software and Legacy webinars program.[45]

In 2018, the company announced its sponsorship of Eurovision 2019.[46] It also announced that, as of October 2018, the total number of historica records reached over 9 billion.[8] Also in 2018, chief science officer, Yaniv Erlich, received media attention for creating a family tree of 13 million people using data from Geni.com.[47]

Security incidents[edit]

In June 2018, it was announced that MyHeritage experienced a security breach that leaked the data of over 92 million users.[48] According to the company, the breach occurred on October 26, 2017. The leak allowed for the users' email addresses and hashed passwords to be compromised. MyHeritage stated that information about family trees, DNA profiles and credit card information are stored on a separate system and were not part of the leak.[49][50] The company notified customers on the day it discovered the breach and implemented two-factor authentication as a response.[51]

Products and services[edit]

MyHeritage's products and services exist in the spheres of web, mobile, and downloadable software.[2][3][4] The company's website, MyHeritage.com, works on a freemium business model. It is free to sign up and begin building family trees and making matches. The website will provide excerpts from historical records and newspapers, or from other family trees, but in order to read full versions of those documents, or confirm relationships, the user will have to have a paid subscription. Additionally, only paid users can contact other members.[52]

The MyHeritage online database contains 6.3 billion historical records,[15] including census, birth, marriage, death, military, and immigration documents along with historical newspapers.[27] The SuperSearch feature allows users to search through the site's entire catalog of historical records to find information about potential family members.[29][31] Users may also upload photos to their family trees.[37] MyHeritage's mobile app is available for iOS and Android devices and offers a range of similar features including the ability to view and edit family trees, research historical databases, and capture and share photos.[4]

Matching technologies[edit]

MyHeritage uses several matching technologies for family history research. These include Smart Matching, Record Matching, Record Detective, Instant Discoveries, Global Name Translation, and Search Connect. Smart Matching is used to cross-reference one user's family tree with the family trees of all other users. The feature allows users to utilize information about their families from other, possibly related users.[3] Record Matching is similar except that it matches and compares family trees to historical records rather than other family trees.[29][30]

Record Detective is a technology that links related historical records based on information from one historical record. It also uses existing family trees to make connections between records (for instance, a death certificate and a marriage license).[39] Instant Discoveries is a feature that compares users' family trees to other family trees and records, and then instantly shows them a large amount of information about their family found in these sources, packaged as an entire new branch they can add to their trees.[43] Global Name Translation allows users to search for a relative in their preferred language but get historical documents with their relative's name in other languages.[15]

Search Connect is a feature announced by MyHeritage in July 2015 and released in November that same year.[53] The feature indexes search queries along with their metadata dates, places, relatives, etc. and then displays them in search results when others perform a similar search. The feature allows users performing similar searches to connect with each other for collaboration.[54]

Family Tree Builder[edit]

Family Tree Builder is freemium downloadable software that allows users to build family trees, upload photos, view charts and statistics, and more. [55]

MyHeritage DNA[edit]

MyHeritage DNA is a genetic testing service launched by MyHeritage in 2016.[56] DNA results are obtained from home test kits, allowing users to use cheek swabs to collect samples. The results provide DNA matching and ethnicity estimates.[56] In 2018, the company offered 5,000 of these kits as part of an initiative to reunite migrant families separated at the United States-Mexico border.[57] The company also offered 15,000 DNA kits as part of a pro bono initiative called DNA Quest, which connected adoptees with biological parents.[58]

Other Projects[edit]

The Tribal Quest Expedition project is MyHeritage's pro bono project to record the family histories of tribal peoples.[59] It also has a program to match descendants of Holocaust survivors with property taken from their family.[60]

Awards and recognition[edit]

In 2013, MyHeritage was selected by Globes as the most promising Israeli startup for 2013–2014. The company was ranked number one out of a possible 4,800 startups.[61] Also in 2013, Deloitte ranked MyHeritage among the top 10 fastest-growing companies from Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) on the Deloitte Fast 500 list.[62]

On April 18, 2018, MyHeritage was listed on the 6th place among the list of 50 most promising startups in Israel, published by the business newspaper Calcalist.[63]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Calcalist’s 2018 List of 50 Most Promising Israeli Startups. Calcalist
  2. ^ a b c d Gobry, Pascal-Emmanuel (18 July 2011). "How A Startup No One Would Touch Crushed Silicon Valley Moguls And Became A Giant". Business Insider. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  3. ^ a b c Meyer, David (19 September 2012). "MyHeritage automates record-matching as genealogy wars heat up". Gigaom. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  4. ^ a b c "MyHeritage Releases Redesigned Mobile App for Family History". Business Wire. 7 May 2015. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  5. ^ a b c Lynley, Matthew (28 November 2012). "MyHeritage Raises $25 Million, Aquires Geni". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
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External links[edit]