Business News

Findmypast Announces a Raft of New Partnerships as Part of its U.S. Growth Strategy

As mentioned in my earlier article at http://goo.gl/BI5BfM, Findmypast has always been known primarily as a company that supplies genealogy information from the British Isles. However, the company announced some time ago that would expand into North American records. My earlier article contained one announcement from the company of a major expansion of U.S. records being offered at Findmypast.com. At today’s RootsTech2016 conference in Salt Lake City, the company made another announcement that shows Findmypast’s serious efforts to become a major genealogy information provider in the U.S.

The following announcement was written by Findmypast:

Leading family history site, Findmypast announced today at RootsTech a range of new global partnerships with leading technology providers. This will further strengthen its reach in the U. S. as well as U.K. markets.

The raft of new partnerships include deals with RootsMagic, Legacy Family Tree, FamilySearch, Family-Historian, Puzzilla, Billion Graves and RootsCity. Findmypast will make its vast record collection of more than 8 billion records available to customers via these partners. The rollout of these partnerships will begin in 2016, with exact dates to be detailed later.

Who is the Software MacKiev Company?

mackiev_main_logoAncestry.com’s announcement today that the company is selling the Family Tree Maker software business to Software MacKiev has created a few questions. For instance, who is Software MacKiev? A quick Google search produces several answers.

NOTE: The second part of today’s announcement states that RootsMagic will also be able to synchronize data with Ancestry.com’s online family trees by the end of the year. However, that apparently does not affect the sale of Family Tree Maker, both Windows and Macintosh versions, to Software MacKiev.

Software MacKiev has its headquarters in Boston, Massachusetts. Specifically, it has offices at 30 Union Wharf on Boston’s waterfront in the historic North End. However, Wikipedia notes that Software MacKiev has its main workshop in Kiev, Ukraine. The company is best known for developing software for Macintosh systems which apparently explains the letters “Mac” in the company name: Software MacKiev.

Long Lost Family on TLC to be Sponsored by Ancestry.com

The following announcement was written by the folks at Ancestry.com:

REGRET, LOSS AND REDEMPTION ON TLC’S DOCU-SERIES LONG LOST FAMILY

The eight-episode docuseries premieres Sunday, March 6, 2016

Los Angeles, CA – LONG LOST FAMILY features the highly emotional and touching stories of people who have suffered a lifetime of separation and are yearning to be reunited with their birthparents and biological families or find children they had to place for adoption long ago. Either because of circumstance or fate, they’ve barely – if ever – met. The TLC series premieres Sunday, March 6 at 10/9c.

Colonial Roots Acquires the Antient Press

The following announcement was written by the folks at Colonial Roots:

ColonialRootsMillsboro, Delaware: Colonial Roots, genealogy book publishing firm specializing in the Mid-Atlantic region, has acquired The Antient Press, publisher of Virginia genealogy books. Over 500 new titles have been added to the ever- expanding list of genealogy books published by Colonial Roots.

“The acquisition of The Antient Press is a perfect fit for our company. Colonial Roots specializes in genealogy books for the Mid-Atlantic area. Our heaviest concentration is in Virginia, so this just made sense for both Colonial Roots and The Antient Press,” stated Debbie Hooper, a board-certified genealogist and owner of Colonial Roots.

A Sneak Peek Inside the MyHeritage HQ

MyHeritageHQThe MyHeritage Blog has an article that provides a quick peek at the company’s business offices. MyHeritage began in Founder and CEO Gilad Japhet’s living room in Bnei Atarot, a village founded by the Templers. Then for several years the company’s headquarters were located in a Templer family estate and farmhouse in the same village. This picturesque setting is where the company grew from 2 to 70 employees.

The company now has three offices in Israel; the main office in Or Yehuda, and two others in Tel Aviv. MyHeritage also has two offices in the US; one in Lehi, Utah, and another in Burbank, California, home of the Geni team.

Findmypast and sister site Mocavo Come Together

Today’s announcement strikes me as an excellent marriage. Formerly known as DC Thomson Family History, Findmypast is a British-owned provider of more than a billion records of interest to genealogists. The company has 18 million registered users across its family of online brands, which includes Lives of the First World War, The British Newspaper Archive and Genes Reunited, amongst others.

Mocavo is a web site that provides the most effective genealogy search engine available today. It works in a similar fashion as other search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing, and others) with the exception that Mocavo indexes only genealogy web sites and does so with extra software tools not available in the other search engines. As a result, it is very effective at finding historical information about people.

DC Thomson Reports 20% Hike in Annual Profits Although Its Genealogy Companies Report a Loss

DC Thomson is a large corporation with many divisions and with many different business interests around the globe. While based in Dundee, Scotland, DC Thomson owns numerous businesses throughout the British Isles as well as in North America, Latin America, Australia, and a number of other countries. Of interest to genealogists, DC Thomson is the parent company of Find My Past, Genes Reunited, Scotland’s People, The British Newspaper Archive, and it’s most recent genealogy acquisition: Mocavo, Inc.

In its latest financial report, released this morning, the Dundee-based group said profits rose to just over £30 million (roughly $44 million US) in the 2015 year to March as the group cut operating costs by £6.6m (roughly $10 million US) on the prior year.

While the corporation’s bottom-line numbers are positive, the company’s genealogy businesses don’t seem to be doing so well.

The Value of a Genealogy Company

A one-line statement today in a news story about Publisher D.C Thomson’s Brightsolid group of companies caught my eye. Brightsolid owns several companies, including the genealogy companies, Findmypast and Mocavo. The article at http://goo.gl/ZDJg3R states: “Brightsolid online innovation acquired US-based genealogy company Mocavo Inc in June 2014 in £14.83 million deal.”

£14.83 million is about $22 million US dollars at today’s exchange rate.

Ancestry.com is Now Moving All Customers to the New Ancestry

The move to the “New Ancestry” web site was announced several months ago and has created some controversy ever since. Now the company is making it official.  In an article today in the Ancestry Blog, Kendall Hulet, Senior Vice President of Product Management at Ancestry, wrote:

Over a year ago, based on extensive research into our members’ wants and needs, we set out to build a better website that reinvents the way Ancestry helps you discover and tell your family story. On December 15, we will complete the final transition worldwide to the new Ancestry site.

You can read the full announcement on the Ancestry Bog at http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2015/12/14/all-members-now-moving-to-the-new-ancestry.

More Information on the Decision to Retire Family Tree Maker Desktop Software

Ancestry VP Kendall Hulet has responded to some of the comments, questions, and criticisms that have been posted online following the company’s decision to “retire” Family Tree Maker. He writes:

Following the last Family Tree Maker desktop software announcement, we’ve seen your outpouring of comments, questions and the concerns you have raised. I’ve read through many of your comments personally, and I want you to know that we truly value you as customers and your feedback.

Here are three key things I’d like to re-assure you of after reading through your comments:

  1. We are fully committed to supporting Family Tree Maker through at least the end of 2016 with all available support from member services, including technical issues, product issues, updates and attention to the product. You will be able to use the software, exactly as you do now, including TreeSync, for at least the next year.
  2. We are exploring possible relationships with other desktop software solutions that would make it possible for their products to integrate with Ancestry.
  3. We are exploring options to bring more reports and related functionality from Family Tree Maker into the online service. Stay tuned for updates on this over the coming year.

Dropbox to Retire Mailbox – Is There a Lesson Here for Genealogists?

Hmmm, it seems to be a sign of the times. Dropbox is shutting down one of its less successful services although the primary business of Dropbox remains strong and apparently is quite successful. Details may be found on the Mailbox Blog at https://blogs.dropbox.com/mailbox.

Mailbox is a service that Dropbox purchased in 2013 for $100 million. Dropbox pledged not to kill the beloved app…but rather, to make it better. The product was originally called Orchestra; but, upon purchasing the service, Dropbox renamed it to Mailbox. Mailbox claimed to “make email light, fast, and mobile-friendly.”

Mailbox apparently attracted a small, but fiercely loyal, group of users. Messages are being posted today all over the Internet that are moaning the demise of Mailbox.

Sound familiar? It should sound familiar to genealogists who have read the news in the past day or so concerning Family Tree Maker. There are lessons to be learned in both of these recent announcements.

Ancestry to Retire Family Tree Maker Software

If you are using Family Tree Maker, you probably need to start looking for another genealogy program. Kendall Hulet, Senior Vice President of Product Management at Ancestry, posted an article to the Ancestry Blog today stating, “We’ve made the tough decision to stop selling Family Tree Maker as of December 31, 2015.”

The announcement is available at http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2015/12/08/ancestry-to-retire-family-tree-maker-software.

This announcement shouldn’t surprise anyone. For several years, Ancestry.com has supported TWO interfaces: a web interface at http://ancestry.com that looks at the company’s online databases plus the Family Tree Maker software installed in Windows and Macintosh computers that looks at the same online databases plus allows the user to add more information with the option to keep the new information private or to share it online. In effect, Ancestry.com’s biggest competitor for some time has been Ancestry.com! It’s tough when you compete with yourself.

Next, Ancestry.com traditionally has announced new upgrades to Family Tree Maker every September or October. This year, there was no such announcement. That led to some speculation that a major change was underway.

StoryPress Acquired by everyStory

I wrote about StoryPress in the November 11, 2014 newsletter at http://goo.gl/cwHnE3 and again in the February 24, 2015 newsletter at http://goo.gl/mqE5Es. Now the storytelling application for iPhone and iPad has been acquired by everyStory, a cloud-based story-sharing platform.

Here is the official announcement:

Interactive photo and audio features preserves memories by adding audio stories to photos

story-pressSAN DIEGO, CA – December 1, 2015 – everyStory, the secure cloud-based story-sharing mobile app and platform, today announced an agreement to acquire numerous key assets from StoryPress Inc., a pioneer in multimedia storytelling. Under the terms of the agreement, everyStory will gain key StoryPress assets, which include the StoryPress trademark, creative collateral and domain name. Mike Davis, CEO of StoryPress, will also be joining the everyStory team. The acquisition of StoryPress’ key assets bolsters everyStory’s already impressive capabilities in capturing and preserving memories through its innovative story capture platform, accelerating everyStory’s plan to consolidate the fragmented digital storytelling space and offer customers the best platform for digital story creation, saving, and sharing.

MemoryStoria Declares War on “the Right to be Forgotten”

I met the two founders of MemoryStoria at the Who Do You Think You Are? Live! conference in Birmingham, England, last spring. Their start-up company was so new at the time that they didn’t yet have a product ready for announcement. However, they told me of their plans and I must say their future sounded bright.

Ryan and George recently sent an email to me saying, “We spent the summer developing the features and now the platform is live (and free to use). A selection of public stories are available on our home page. The end result of a user’s storytelling journey is a digital book that can be shared online with friends and family.” They have launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the development. The following press release explains their plans in some detail as does the MemoryStoria web site at https://www.memorystoria.com:

MemoryStoria’s digital book preserves your life stories for future generations. Its Christmas campaign is putting to a test the self-centered culture of Kickstarter crowdfunding.

November 27, 2015

George and Ryan got together in 2014 to work on a dream. They wanted to create a world where no one is ever forgotten. This is how one of London’s socially-responsible startups was born, as a collaboration between a Bulgarian and a Scot. They called it MemoryStoria, to remind people of “memories of stories”, or as a gentle encouragement to “store your memories”.

Ryan And George

Ancestry.com Files a Trademark Case Against DNA Diagnostics Center for the Marketing of “AncestryByDNA”

DNA expert CeCe Moore has written about a trademark infringement law suit involving DNA testing that has been filed in the Ohio Southern District Court in Cincinnati. The article may be found in CeCe’s Your Genetic Genealogist blog at http://goo.gl/0MzelE.

Microsoft Reneges on ‘Unlimited’ OneDrive Storage Promise for Office 365 Subscribers

microsoft-onedrive-logoNearly a year ago, I wrote (at http://goo.gl/EoPef6), “… late in the year Microsoft removed all storage limits from OneDrive and OneDrive for Business accounts for anyone with an Office 365 subscription. That’s right, unlimited online storage space.” That statement was accurate when written but Microsoft has now dropped the free offer. The company now says it has no intention of keeping those promises.

If you have been keeping a lot of files in Microsoft OneDrive, you will want to read the article by Ed Bott at http://goo.gl/cjOsbL.

Ancestry.com LLC Reports Third Quarter 2015 Financial Results

The following is an excerpt from Ancestry.com’s third quarter 2015 financial results released today:

— Third Quarter Revenues $171.5 Million, Up 10.9% Year-Over-Year; Up 13.1% on Constant Currency Basis —

— Third Quarter Adjusted EBITDA $67.4 Million, Up 21.5% Year-Over-Year(1)

ancestry-com-logoPROVO, Utah, Oct. 21, 2015 — Ancestry.com LLC (the “Company”), the largest provider of family history and personal DNA testing, reported financial results today for the third quarter ended September 30, 2015.

“Our third quarter results benefited from strong business fundamentals and good execution, highlighted by double-digit year-over-year growth in revenue, adjusted EBITDA and free cash flow,” said Tim Sullivan, Chief Executive Officer of Ancestry.com. “Our subscriber base remains healthy, engagement trends are solid following our staged roll-out of the New Ancestry website and customer experience, and AncestryDNA is now the world’s largest consumer genomics database with sales in the quarter doubling relative to last year. We are poised to deliver outstanding performance in 2015, and the strategic investments we’ve made in the business position Ancestry for attractive new opportunities in 2016 and beyond.”

Third Quarter 2015 Financial Highlights

23andMe Said to be Valued at $1.1 Billion

23andMe is a privately held personal genomics and biotechnology company that serves provides genealogy DNA testing. Only nine years old, the company is now believed to be worth about $1.1 billion US, according to a person close to the company.

Perhaps even more interesting, 23andMe is preparing to introduce a new consumer product and to expand its drug-discovery arm.

You can read more in an article by Caroline Chen in Bloomberg’s web site at http://goo.gl/HtOQgr.

Ancestry.com Reportedly is in Talks with FDA to Offer Genetic Testing of Medical Conditions

Ancestry.com is talking to the FDA about using DNA to estimate disease risk for the company’s member base. CEO Tim Sullivan revealed the news in an interview with The Verge, effectively announcing his company’s intention to eventually offer straight-to-consumer genetic testing.

Ancestry is currently in the “very early stages of a conversation with the FDA,” Sullivan told The Verge. “We think it’s totally appropriate that the FDA has stepped in to pretty aggressively regulate direct-to-consumer genetic tests—and we’re just starting from that perspective, and trying to work very closely with them,” he continued.

New York Genealogical & Biographical Society Seeks New President

There is good news and sad news. It is good news for McKelden Smith: he is retiring and is planning to enjoy the newly-found time available. It is sad news for members of the NYG&B as he will leave behind big shoes to be filled. However, this might also be good news for “a high-energy, entrepreneurial leader with strategic business-building skills who also has a deep interest in family history.” If that is you, or if it is someone you know, you will be interested in this announcement from the NYG&B:

NYG&B-logo

The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society (NYG&B) has announced that McKelden Smith, president of the Society since 2009, will retire in December of this year.

Jeanne Sloane, chairman of the board of trustees, has appointed a search committee and named Stephen Madsen, a member of the board, as its chairman.

On September 24, the full board ratified the selection of PBR Executive Search in New York City to manage the search for a new president. A detailed position description is at http://www.pbrsearch.com/NYGBS-President.pdf.

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