Business News

Comment on “Another Personal Genetics Company Is Sharing Client Data”

Yesterday I published an announcement from AncestryDNA and Calico that provides details about a new collaboration between the two organizations. In fact, the goals of the collaboration sound great: “to investigate human heredity of lifespan.” However, pessimists always see a negative side to anything and this announcement is no exception. This is a variation of the “glass is half full” versus “the glass is half empty” comparison.

Writing in Wired, Katie M. Palmer wrote an article entitled Another Personal Genetics Company Is Sharing Client Data. She states, “… companies like AncestryDNA have convinced customers to pay to give their genetic data away, at a cost of about $100 per sample. This is the same sort of bargain you make when you begrudgingly hand your personal information over to Google or Facebook: You sacrifice some amount of data about yourself in return for added convenience.”

Ancestry.com LLC Reports Second Quarter 2015 Financial Results

The following an an excerpt from a long announcement written by Ancestry.com The full announcement may be found at: http://goo.gl/o3tlst.

– Second Quarter Revenues $169.4 million, Up 8.5% Year-Over-Year; Up 10.2% on Constant Currency Basis –

– Second Quarter Adjusted EBITDA $67.3 million, Up 16.1%Year-Over-Year1 –

PROVO, Utah, July 22, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Ancestry.com LLC (the “Company”), the world’s largest online family history resource, reported financial results today for the second quarter ended June 30, 2015.

AncestryDNA and Calico to Research the Genetics of Human Lifespan

The following announcement was written by AncestryDNA:

Collaboration Will Analyze Family History and Genetics to Facilitate Development of Cutting-Edge Therapeutics

PROVO, Utah and SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., July 21, 2015  — AncestryDNA, an industry leader in consumer genetics, and Calico, a company focused on longevity research and therapeutics, today announced an effort to investigate human heredity of lifespan. Together, they will evaluate anonymized data from millions of public family trees and a growing database of over one million genetic samples. Financial terms have not been disclosed.

AncestryDNA and Calico will work together to analyze and investigate the role of genetics and its influences in families experiencing unusual longevity using Ancestry’s proprietary databases, tools and algorithms. Calico will then focus its efforts to develop and commercialize any potential therapeutics that emerge from the analysis.

Ancestry Launches AncestryHealth

This appears to be a major expansion of Ancestry.com’s many services. Notice that it is a free service. The following announcement was written by the folks at Ancestry.com:

Dr. Cathy Petti Joins as Chief Health Officer to Spearhead Company’s Global Health Initiatives

AncestryDNA Database Surpasses One Million People Genotyped

(PROVO, Utah) – July 16, 2015 – Ancestry (www.ancestry.com), the leader in family history and consumer genetics, today announced the launch of AncestryHealth (www.ancestryhealth.com), a new entity and resource to empower consumers with important health insights to help promote wellness, prevent illness and support healthier living. The company also announced appointment of Cathy A. Petti, MD, as AncestryHealth’s Chief Health Officer. At the same time, AncestryDNA (www.ancestrydna.com) announced the accomplishment of surpassing one million people tested in its database.

AncestryHealth’s first offering is a free service, currently in beta, that gives consumers the ability to compile their family health history information with the help of their Ancestry family tree.

Genealogy as Big Business

Neal Ungerleider has written an article that has been published on the Fast Company web site that compares two of genealogy’s major providers: Ancestry.com and MyHeritage.com. The article also makes some comparions to the non-profit FamilySearch organization sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

MyHeritage Launches Breakthrough Global Name Translation™ Technology

I think this is a huge advancement in online searches for genealogy information. I saw the brand-new Global Name Translation demonstrated earlier today at the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) annual conference in Jerusalem and I am very impressed.

Global Name Translation is the easy way to search through MyHeritage’s massive multilingual and international database of 6 billion family tree profiles and historical records. As stated in the announcement below, the Global Name Translation “…automatically translates names found in historical records and family trees from one language into another, in very high accuracy, generating all the plausible translations, to facilitate matches between names in different languages. In addition, a manual search in one language will also provide results in other languages, translated back to the user’s language for convenience.”

Click on the above image to view a larger version

A search for “Jacob Schmidt” will find all the results shown above and more.

Yes, that’s right. If your ancestors came from a country that keeps its records in a language other than your preferred language, you can enter the search in your own language and MyHeritage will find matches for the same or very similar names in other languages as well. For instance, a search for Alexander or for Alessandro (Alexander in Italian) will also find “Саша” which is the Russian form of Sasha, a popular nickname of Alexander in Russia.

The first version successfully translates names to and from English, German, Dutch, French, Spanish, Catalan, Portuguese, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, Greek, Hebrew, Polish, Czech, Russian and Ukrainian. The next version currently in development will add Chinese and Japanese, and additional languages will follow.

I am not aware of any other genealogy service that has anything like this.

FamilySearch International Appoints Steve Rockwood as President and CEO to Replace Dennis Brimhall Who Will Retire

The following announcement was written by the folks at FamilySearch:

The FamilySearch International board of directors has elected Stephen T. Rockwood as the company’s president and chief executive officer, succeeding Dennis Brimhall, who will retire. Rockwood, who most recently served as director of the international division at FamilySearch, becomes president and CEO on October 1.

“Steve is an extremely capable, experienced, and respected leader with an immense passion for our mission and our people,” said Elder Allan F. Packer, Chairman of the Board. “As president and CEO, Steve will bring a rich combination of management skills, customer focus, business acumen, and a can-do spirit that will build on the vision and work of Dennis Brimhall.”

Society of Genealogists and Pharos Tutors and Tutoring announce a New Joint Programme of Education

The following announcement was written by the Society of Genealogists:

Friday 26th June, 2015:

The Society of Genealogists & Pharos Teaching & Tutoring today announced a new joint programme of education, the distance learning Certificate of Family History Skills and Strategies (Advanced).

The Society of Genealogists, in conjunction with Pharos Teaching and Tutoring Ltd has been running its popular Intermediate distance learning programme since September 2010. The Advanced Certificate builds on this. It brings a two-year programme of assessed education online starting on 1 October 2015, consisting of taught modules and special stand-alone tutorial sessions. Pharos and the Society are working with the Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives (AGRA) to enable students to reach the standards necessary for membership application should they wish to work as professional genealogists in the future.

Taught modules are:

Findmypast Community Edition Now Available to U.S. Libraries

The following announcement was written by the folks at Findmypast:

  • Findmypast, a global leader in family history, announces the availability of a library edition within the United States
  • Provides access for libraries, archives, and other organizations to billions of records from England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States
  • Free, no obligation, 90-day trial available

Salt Lake City – June 25, 2015Findmypast, a global leader in family history, announced today the official release of their product for libraries and organizations in the United States. The Findmypast Library Edition gives library access to billions of records from Findmypast’s wide array of collections from the United States, Ireland, England, Wales, Scotland, and other areas of the world. Collection highlights include:

Ancestry Launches Family History DNA Testing Service in Canada

This business offering actually started a few weeks ago but Ancestry.ca released the official announcement today:

DNA test pinpoints genetic ethnicity and helps people discover family origins going back thousands of years

  • AncestryDNA studies a person’s entire genome at more than 700,000 different locations
  • Results detail a person’s ethnic origins across 26 regions worldwide
  • Service can help users discover and connect with new relatives, linking DNA results to a network of more than 16 billion historical records

TORONTO, June 9, 2015Ancestry, the world’s largest family history resource, today launched AncestryDNA in Canada. AncestryDNA allows individuals to learn about their genetic heritage and discover new family connections in Canada and around the world.

When coupled with Ancestry’s database of more than 16 billion historical records, AncestryDNA will enable family history enthusiasts and novices alike to discover even more about their own past, including the ability to find entire new cousin matches around the world.

Ancestry.com’s Owners Reportedly are Exploring a Possible Sale of the Company

This story strikes me as non-news: Reuters News Agency is reporting that Ancestry.com LLC, the world’s largest family historical past website, is exploring a sale that would be worth between $2.5 billion and $3 billion, together with debt, based on information from individuals acquainted with the matter. Permira Advisers LLC, the buyout agency that owns most of privately held Ancestry, has employed funding banks to run a public sale for the corporate, according to unnamed sources.

You can read the story at http://goo.gl/TTazpi and at a few other web sites as well.

I am repeating the rumors here because there is a lot of buzz about this story. However, I am surprised that anyone would be surprised that Permira Advisers LLC is thinking of selling. Of course Ancestry.com is for sale!

Ancestry.com First Quarter 2015 Financial Results: Revenues $164.6 million, Up 7% Year-Over-Year; Up 8% on Constant Currency Basis

Ancestry.com today released the company’s financial numbers for the first three months of 2015. “Our first quarter results reflect the strengthening business trends we began to see last fall, highlighted by strong Adjusted EBITDA growth and 104,000 net subscriber additions since the end of 2014,” said Tim Sullivan, Chief Executive Officer of Ancestry.com. “We are executing well in the core business and execution will remain a major theme in 2015 as we focus on content acquisition, product enhancements, continued momentum at AncestryDNA, which now has a database of genotypes from approximately 850,000 people, and the penetration of targeted new international markets.”

Some of the highlights:

AncestryDNA Launches Revolutionary New Technology to Power New Ancestor Discoveries

The following announcement and video were created by Ancestry.com:

(PROVO, Utah) – April 2, 2015 – AncestryDNA, the leader in DNA testing for family history, today launched a significant technological advancement that makes discovering one’s family history faster and easier than ever. Now with the easy-to-use AncestryDNA test, customers will have the unique ability to find their ancestors, who lived hundreds of years ago, using just their DNA. Only possible through the groundbreaking work of the AncestryDNA science team, New Ancestor Discoveries is a technical innovation that combines the latest in genetic science, new patent-pending algorithms, and access to AncestryDNA’s extensive database to push the boundaries of human genetics, and help people find ancestors from their past using just a DNA test, no genealogy research required.

“This is the biggest advancement in family history since we introduced our Hint feature, the Ancestry shaky leaf, which scours billions of historical records to automatically find new information about your family,” said Tim Sullivan CEO of Ancestry. “Now, through a simple DNA test, AncestryDNA is fundamentally revolutionizing the way to discover your family history, transforming the experience by making it faster and easier to go further into your family’s past, and instantly discover new ancestors you never knew you had.”

Ancestry Appoints Kendall Hulet Senior Vice President of Product Management

The following press release was written by Ancestry.com:

PROVO, Utah, March 3, 2015 — Ancestry, the world’s largest online family history resource, today announced the appointment of company veteran Kendall Hulet to the position of Senior Vice President of Product Management. Hulet will assume responsibilities for the global product organization and its efforts to make family history more fun and accessible to millions around the world. Hulet is succeeding Eric Shoup, who recently departed Ancestry to pursue new business opportunities.

Announcing: Irish Probate Genealogy Partners

A new genealogy corporation in Ireland has been launched. It is the product of a partnership between Eneclann, Ireland’s largest historical and genealogical research company, and Heirs Ireland, an internationally recognized probate genealogy firm. Irish Probate Genealogy Partners’ business goal is to provide comprehensive services to the legal profession.

Today’s announcement states:

Irish Probate Genealogy Partners have over 60 years combined experience legal, title and probate research, which includes:

StoryPress Partners with Findmypast to Bring Family History to Life Through the Power of Storytelling

The following press release was written by the folks at StoryPress:

AUSTIN, TX, February 24, 2015 — StoryPress Inc today announced a partnership with UK-based Findmypast, to make their market-leading storytelling platform available to Findmypast’s global audience of family historians. StoryPress makes it incredibly simple for anybody to create rich and powerful stories either for themselves, or to share with the world.

Under the terms of the partnership, StoryPress and Findmypast have been working together to create Story Guides specifically aimed at helping users bring their family history to life using audio, images and video.

The New England Historic Genealogical Society and FamilySearch Announce an Historic Collaboration

The following announcement was written by the folks at the New England Historic Genealogical Society:

New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) Announces a Multi-Year Collaboration with FamilySearch

The Two Leading Nonprofits in the Family History Industry Announce a Sharing of Online Resources for the Benefit of Millions of Constituents

A New, Redesigned Website by NEHGS at AmericanAncestors.org Offers Millions of New Records and New Names— Giving NEHGS Members Access to More Records than Ever Before

February 17, 2015—Boston, Massachusetts—New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) and FamilySearch, the family history arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, today announced a multi-year collaboration between the two nonprofit organizations and a sharing of online genealogical resources, establishing a milestone in the growing international family history industry. In a database exchange program, the two leading non-profits in the global genealogy business will now make available millions of new records containing billions of new searchable names to their many constituents.

StoryWorth Wins First Place at RootsTech Innovator Showdown

The following announcement was written by the folks at StoryWorth:

SALT LAKE CITY, Feb. 14, 2015StoryWorth, a San Francisco start up company that offers an email-based storytelling service, today swept the RootsTech Innovator Showdown, winning both first prize and the People’s Choice award, and claiming a purse of $15,000. RootsTech is a global conference hosted by FamilySearch.

The Innovator Showdown is the first-annual event where entrepreneurs from around the globe presented their web or mobile app on stage in front of a live audience, vying for a total of $25,000 in sponsor-contributed prize money.

Findmypast and BillionGraves Announce Partnership

The following announcement was written by Findmypast and BillionGraves :

Findmypast and BillionGraves announce partnership to make rich historical content accessible to everyone for free

Industry leaders are working together to make more than 12 million grave markers available to everyone, making it easier for families to discover their unique story for free.

Salt Lake City, Utah, 13 February 2015. Findmpast and BillionGraves announced today that they will partner to add more than 12 million grave marker indexes to family history websites mocavo.com and findmypast.com. With the shared goal of making family history more accessible to everyone, this unique content will be available on all three websites for free.

New records: 12 Million Grave Marker Indexes Available for Free

Findmypast Begins Offering DNA Testing to Customers

The following announcement was written by the folks at Findmypast:

The world’s fastest growing family history company announces new affiliation with DNA experts FamilyTreeDNA.

Salt Lake City, Utah, 12 February 2015. Leading family history site, findmypast.com has today announced its new partnership with FamilyTreeDNA.

An important frontier in family history, DNA testing complements Findmypast’s historical records and family trees, allowing researchers to connect with one another and solve long-standing research questions. As of today Findmypast will now be offering DNA testing services to all its members through FamilyTreeDNA.

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