FindMyPast Buys Mocavo

Here is a major news announcement from two major players in the genealogy business. I have written often about both companies. FindMyPast is a fast-growing genealogy publishing firm that provides more than 1.8 billion records online. Its many online offerings include the British Newspaper Archive, Genes Reunited and Lives of the First World War. It also is involved with several other family history-related organizations, including the Imperial War Museum, the Allen County Public Library, FamilySearch, and a partnership with the British Library for a 10-year project to provide digital access to more than 40 million newspaper pages. The National Archives (of Great Britain) recently awarded FindMyPast the contract to put the 1939 Register for England and Wales online.

Mocavo is best-known for having 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. Mocavo also has several other offerings besides the search engine.

The following was written by the folks at FindMyPast and at Mocavo:

Genealogy for The 21st Century

London, UK, 23 June 2014. Findmypast, the leading British family history company, announced today that it has acquired Mocavo, the fastest growing genealogy company in the US.

Findmypast, the leading brand in the DC Thomson Family History portfolio, has been at the forefront of the British family history market for over a decade. It has an established collection of 1.8 billion historical records and an extensive network of partners including the British Library, the Imperial War Museum, the Allen County Public Library and Family Search.

Founded by Cliff Shaw in 2011, Mocavo is a technological innovator in the genealogy industry. Its highly sophisticated search engine brings together, in one place, a diverse range of sources, such as family history record indexes, school and college yearbooks, church records and biographies, which help millions of family history enthusiasts to fill in blanks in their family trees and add colour to their family stories.

This acquisition, coupled with the recent tender win of the 1939 Register for England and Wales and the purchase of Origins.net, forms an important part of the growth strategy set out by Annelies van den Belt, CEO of Findmypast, and her new team.

Together Findmypast and Mocavo will create one of the fastest growing global genealogy businesses. The two companies will provide customers with easier access and more relevant information to help add colour and depth to family history. Additionally, they both remain committed to delivering on Mocavo’s promise to provide free access to family history records on an individual database level forever. Toward that commitment, Findmypast is announcing today that the full indexes to the US Census from 1790 to 1940 are available for free at Mocavo.com.

Mocavo will become a fully-owned subsidiary of Findmypast. It joins the Findmypast family of brands including the British Newspaper Archive, Genes Reunited and Lives of the First World War.

Annelies van den Belt, CEO of Findmypast, said: “Findmypast’s strategy is about growth and the US market is key. Our purchase of Mocavo, combined with our existing US customer base, gives us an excellent platform for expansion in the world’s number one genealogy market. Together we can provide a dynamic family history experience that offers customers the opportunity to make a real connection with their family heritage.”

Cliff Shaw, founder and CEO of Mocavo, said: “We are thrilled to join forces with Findmypast and become a part of their family of leading brands. The combination of our companies will provide family history enthusiasts with unprecedented access to the stories of their ancestors. Expect Mocavo to grow stronger with Findmypast’s support and to continue to drive innovation in the family history category.”

Joshua Taylor, newly appointed Director of Family History, Findmypast, said: “Our heritage and rich record collections coupled with Mocavo’s sophisticated technology will make for a powerful combination enabling us to offer our customers even more ways to unlock the fascinating stories within their family history.”

13 Comments

What a totally underwhelming piece of news for a significant number of FindMyPast customers. Since March, when FMP launched its new search programme on us, they have lurched from farce to disaster which culminated in the CEO issuing a statement on 02 May 2014 finally acknowledging that the new site did not work properly and apologising. Since then, FMP have been extending subscriptions FOC, refunding subscriptions, setting up a user group to help to solve some of the problems, and are even writing a new search platform. This is just a part of it all. A number of UK web forums are full of complaints, the review sites creak under negativity, and FMP sail on desperately trying to pretend to the world at large that there is nothing amiss. After their purchase of Origins.net the other week, this latest partnership/acquisition is yet another kick in the teeth to its disenfranchised subscribers. Brilliant records – just can’t find them.

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What Margaret says above is completely true, FMP is a genealogical mess. I am one of the group who are trying to help them get their search engines genealogist friendly but as of this date it is way off the mark and I for one cannot use the website as it is, I and many others take all our research to Ancestry and The Genealogist, both of which are far superior to FMP. I do not understand why decent websites are throwing in the towel and allowing FMP to buy them out, and in so doing becoming a monstrous monopoly in the genealogical world.

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I’ve used Mocavo for more than a year and find that it targets my search requests quite well. I Hope this new venture proves to be the best for both companies.

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I have tried Mocavo and have had a discussion about their claim of “free” services. That is only true as far as it goes. You can search for free but in order to see documents you must buy a subscription. I can search for free on Google, Yahoo, or anywhere else and get the basic same results. I have no quarrel with companies charging for services: just don’t call it free.

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I, too, agree that the promise of free records is a farce with respect to Mocavo. I have no problem with a company charging for its services, that’s normal. But touting Mocavo as free is deceptive. So what else is new?

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It’s not just the search that FindMyPast messed up but for the past three weeks their US Newspaper collection only displays on half half a page and even fully zoomed is still unreadable; all in all I have given up using them since they are a good example of what not to do with a perfectly adequate site. Will this be the kiss of death for Mocavo? I couldn’t care less because I have found nothing there that a good Google search didn’t find for me.

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    John – if you are so unhappy with FMP and have time left on your subscription, you can send an email to support@findmypast.co.uk and ask for your outstanding subscription to be refunded. Alternatively, if you are very near to the end of your subscription, email them and tell them that you are unable to use the site for what you need and ask for an extension to your subscription, which should be one or 2 months. UK customers have been told that FMP will honour these requests. If you are on Facebook, there is a page called cantfindmypast which may help you see what people are saying – where FMP can’t censor or ban them as they have done on the .co.uk Facebook page and the .co.uk website.

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I was going to say the same as Frances LaChance said above. I go there and search but every time I want to see the results it wants me to subscribe. That to me isn’t free. So I always go elsewhere.

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How does this effect a subscription to Mocavo?

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Not only is Mocavo not free, but they send me notices of “new findings” I did on previous searches when it was free. They show a snippet of those “new findings.” 99% are from city directories, yearbooks, etc., from the late 19th or 20th century and irrelevant to my research in the 1600s and 1700s (and none of them lived in big cities that had directories). The other 1% are records I have had for 30 years. Not a good way to advertise a service if 99% of all your “new additions” are mostly modern directories or yearbooks.

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Saw this acquisition coming – it’s the same basic formula that has been going on for a while now where a genealogy company starts, has no feasible plan for monetization, burns through cash on personnel in a very labor intensive business, and probably becomes a cheap target for larger companies. Maybe it didn’t happen this way, but with a free service for search and having the way to monetize be more detailed search capabilities, I was wondering how long this would last. I really do like Mocavo’s concept though. Companies need to get more original in their offerings at this point. They won’t be able to compete on public databases with the big guys and family trees have been done.

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