Business News

Ancestry® Announces Free Six-month Subscription for Teachers Just in Time for School Year

The following announcement was written by Ancestry®:

Access to Ancestry Library Edition is Now Also Available as Free Remote Learning Resource for Parents and Tutors

LEHI, Utah & SAN FRANCISCO, August 20, 2020 — Ancestry®, the global leader in family history and consumer genomics, announced today that for the first time, it will provide K-12 teachers across America a free six-month World Explorer subscription to access billions of historical records, providing support in lesson development and project creation for the school year ahead. Whether teaching in the classroom or through remote learning, Ancestry now offers free resources to inspire educators with new ways to engage students this fall.

The free subscription will give teachers the tools to help students across the nation make connections to their ancestors, historical places, and events throughout time. By pulling records around historical events to contextualize chapters in history like WWII and the Civil War, teachers can bring their curriculum to life in relevant and exciting ways–which is especially important for keeping students engaged during virtual learning.

Follow-up Concerning DNA Information and Ancestry.com’s Sale to Blackstone in a $4.7 Billion Deal

I published an article 2 days ago (at https://bit.ly/31Im9sL) containing an announcement that Ancestry.com and all its subsidiaries are to be sold to the Blackstone Group Inc. for $4.7 billion (US) including debt. The announcement was brief and contained very few details.

As you might expect, the announcement has generated a lot of questions amongst genealogists asking questions about the future of the company and how the services might change. Many of those questions concern the privacy of DNA information presently held by Ancestry.com.

An article this morning by Kevin Truong in the Vice.com web site answered a few questions concerning the company’s DNA business. He writes:

“Ancestry is known for its genealogy and home DNA testing services. According to its website, the company has 3 million paying subscribers, 27 billion records, and 100 million family trees. The website also says that over 18 million people have been DNA tested through the company.

Ancestry® Launches AncestryHealth®, Powered by Next Generation Sequencing (NGS)

The following announcement was written by Ancestry.com:

“When it comes to your health and your family’s health, the more you know, the better,” said Dr. Ron Park, MD, EVP of Health and DNA, Ancestry.  Read more in our exciting announcement.

Now with Next Generation Sequencing(NGS), NGS looks at thousands more places in your DNA at once, compared to other genetic testing technologies that only look for a small number of them.

  • Learn more about AncestryHealth®
  • AncestryHealth® FAQ
  • Designed to be offered at an affordable price, AncestryHealth® is improving access to the powerful genetic testing capability of Next Generation Sequencing.
  • AncestryHealth® includes everything in AncestryDNA® + Traits

An Announcement from EverPresent, a Family Memories Company

The following is an announcement from EverPresent, a company that can convert your old photographs, 8mm films, 35mm slides, tape recordings, and 50+ year old scrapbooks into a modern digital formats than can easily be preserved and shared with others:

Google and Facebook Data Suggest Half a Million Additional U.S. Households Began Tackling Old Photo Albums, Slides, VHS Tapes and Home Movies Due to Stay-at-Home Orders

A heartwarming trend has emerged during an otherwise difficult time. Families across America have been using their weeks at home to organize and preserve their family photos and videos. In attics and basements across the nation over one trillion print photos and over 600 million video tapes and home movie films sit un-digitized. And there are very few home tape players or slide projectors left to even view these cherished memories. The last VCR manufacturer ceased production in July 2016.

New Owner at Pharos Tutors

The following announcement was written by Pharos Teaching and Tutoring Ltd, one of the UK’s most popular providers of online genealogy courses:

Helen Osborn, co-founder and owner of the business since its inception in 2005, has sold the business to allow her to focus on other interests.

Karen Cummings, who has been the Course Director for Pharos since October last year, is an established genealogist, tutor and speaker. She is one of our longstanding tutors and has taught and written a number of Pharos courses over the last 6 years. Students who have been on Karen’s courses will testify to her enthusiasm about Pharos courses and the subjects she teaches.

Forensic Genomics, a Dynamic New Peer-Reviewed Journal, is Launching in the Fall of 2020

The following announcement was written by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.:

Forensic Genomics, a dynamic new peer-reviewed journal, will launch its preview issue at the annual International Symposium on Human Identification (ISHI) in September 2020.

Forensic Genomics elucidates modern advances in genetic testing, genome sequencing, and analysis which are enabling investigators to break through previously impenetrable barriers in forensic testing and enable advances in live and cold case investigations.

Published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. and spearheaded by Editor-in-Chief David Mittelman, PhD founder and CEO of Othram Inc., the Journal will be published quarterly in print and online with open access options; it will serve as the cornerstone publication of forensic genetics, genomics, and genealogy.

Ancestry® Names Dr. Ron Park Executive Vice President of Health and DNA

The following announcement was written by Ancestry®:

LEHI, Utah & SAN FRANCISCO, April 15, 2020 — Ancestry®, the global leader in family history and consumer genomics, today announced that Ronald Park, MD, MBA, will join the company as executive vice president of Health and DNA on April 20. In this new role, Dr. Park will lead AncestryHealth®, which launched last year with a focus on advancing personalized health screenings with actionable insights. Dr. Park will join Ancestry’s executive leadership team reporting to president and chief executive officer Margo Georgiadis.

Dr. Park joins Ancestry after 16 years at Roche Pharmaceuticals, including international leadership roles in Roche and U.S. roles in Genentech (a member of the Roche Group). While there, he served in a variety of strategic, lifecycle and commercial leadership roles, including as general manager of Roche in Denmark and Iceland. Most recently, Dr. Park was the co-leader of Roche Pharmaceutical’s personalized healthcare center of excellence, a role in which he was instrumental in efforts to develop and accelerate Roche’s approach for utilizing genomics, real-world data and digital health to enhance Roche’s ability to develop and deliver medicines to patients with serious diseases.

MyHeritage Partners With Chinese Genomics Firm To Set Up Coronavirus Testing Lab

The following is an announcement from MyHeritage, the sponsor of this newsletter:

Israeli-founded genealogy platform MyHeritage, the company behind DNA testing for family ancestry, has partnered with the Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI) to set up a lab for accelerated COVID-19 testing in Israel, the company announced on Friday.

The lab is expected to begin running on April 9 and will be able to conduct 10,000 tests a day with a goal of as many as 20,000 tests, MyHeritage said.

BGI has already established similar labs in the Chinese cities of Wuhan, where the novel coronavirus is believed to have originated, and Shenzhen.

MyHeritage Donates 66,000 Swabs to Israel to Combat the Coronavirus

According to an article in the Jerusalem Post:

The online genealogy platform MyHeritage has donated 66,000 medical swabs to Israel in a bid to combat the coronavirus. The swabs were initially shipped from the company’s supplier in North Carolina and amount to an estimated $10 million in lost revenues, according to a report released by Calcalist on Monday.

The shipment of swabs was expected to arrive in Israel on Monday, said Gilad Japhet, CEO and founder of MyHeritage. Japhet added that he first contacted a salesperson associated with MyHeritage’s partner lab Family Tree DNA swabs in order to organize the shipment to Israel.

Cutbacks by Ancestry, 23andMe Signal a Shakeout for DNA Industry

From an article by Kristen V Brown in the Bloomberg magazine’s web site:

Anne Wojcicki, chief executive officer and co-founder of 23andMe Inc.

“Consumer DNA-testing firms are closing up shop and cutting jobs, as a lull in sales forces the industry to move beyond the genealogy tests that turned a handful of well-funded companies into household names.

“At least three companies have closed down or suspended their operations over the past year, while the two DNA-testing bellwethers, Ancestry.com LLC and 23andMe Inc., each cut approximately 100 jobs in recent weeks. Others have pulled tests from the market thanks to slow sales.”

The full article may be found at: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-02-25/the-rise-and-fall-of-home-dna-testing.

MyHeritage Introduces Fan View for Family Trees

I saw this demonstrated today at the RootsTech conference and must say I was impressed. First of all, I love fan charts. They can display an excellent image of a person’s ancestry in an easy-to-understand format. Lots of genealogy programs can create excellent PRINTED fan charts and display them as printed reports or as visually pleasing images on a computer screen. With most genealogy programs, you can have your computer create a fan chart and then you and your relatives can view the output.

The demo by MyHeritage that I saw today is different: it creates INTERACTIVE fan charts. Ok, that is a fancy term but what does it mean? In short, when displaying information on screen as a fan chart, it is not only a static display but you can also click on any individual within the chart to add or modify the information as you wish. The changes to the person’s data then are saved to the main database of your ancestors.

If you wish, you can even make the fan chart as your main “starting point” when entering new data. Click on a person and enter whatever new data you have. You can also change the chart’s colors, size, formatting, and may other options until you crate the display you prefer.

Findmypast’s Archive is the Fastest Growing on the Market

The following announcement was written by Findmypast:

  Findmypast’s collections have grown by over 1.5 billion names in the last year

·         Totalling over 13 billion records, Findmypast is now home to the fastest growing archive on the market

·         More records added over the past 12 months than all major competitors combined 

·         Millions of new and exclusive records bought online for the very first time

RootsTech, Salt Lake City, Utah,  February 26th 2020

Findmypast continues to publish millions of new records from Britain, Ireland, North America and beyond each and every month, providing users across the globe with new opportunities for discovery. 

The world leaders in British & Irish family history are now adding an average of 4.3 million searchable names a day, making them the second largest publisher on the family history market and the fastest growing archive online. 

2019 has seen Findmypast’s collections expand significantly, with over 1.5 billion names added to the site over the past 12 months alone.

Geneanet Launches a New Service: Geneanet DNA

Another DNA testing service has launched online. According to Geneanet’s home page:

“With Geneanet DNA, let’s build the first European DNA database together

“Millions of you have already taken a genealogical DNA test. And more and more of you are asking to be able to upload their DNA data to Geneanet for finding new relatives.

Layoffs at Genetic Testing Companies Reflect the Changing Market

This is a follow-up to articles I published recently: the layoff at 23andMe announced at http://bit.ly/2vhC1FH and the layoff at Ancestry announced at http://bit.ly/2SsW0t5.

An article by Nicole Wetsman in The Verge web site adds more information in a review of today’s DNA testing business and suggestions as to the underlying causes of these business setbacks. You can find Nicole Wetsman’s article in The Verge at http://bit.ly/2H2ZJYW.

Ancestry Announces Lay-Offs and a Change in Corporate Focus on the Family History Business

Ancestry’s president & chief executive officer, Margo Georgiadis, today announced a reduction in the company’s workforce. Blaming a slowdown in the company’s DNA service, she writes, “Future growth will require a continued focus on building consumer trust and innovative new offerings that deliver even greater value to people. Ancestry is well positioned to lead that innovation to inspire additional discoveries in both Family History and Health.”

You can read the full announcement in the Ancestry Blog at https://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2020/02/05/our-path-forward/.

23andMe Lays Off 100 Employees

According to an article by Christina Farr in the CNBC news web site at https://cnb.cx/30Piet9:

23andMe is laying off 100 people, or 14% of its staff, mostly from its operations team, as consumer DNA tests are down.

CEO Anne Wojcicki didn’t have a clear explanation for that, but cited a variety of factors, including both recession fears and privacy concerns.

Wojcicki said she anticipated that DNA testing would explode when she co-founded the business in 2007, but is now looking ahead to a retracting market.

RootsWeb Mailing Lists to be Discontinued

The following is from an email message sent to many RootsWeb users from the RootsWeb administrators:

Beginning March 2nd, 2020 the Mailing Lists functionality on RootsWeb will be discontinued. Users will no longer be able to send outgoing emails or accept incoming emails. Additionally, administration tools will no longer be available to list administrators and mailing lists will be put into an archival state.

Administrators may save the emails in their list prior to March 2nd. After that, mailing list archives will remain available and searchable on RootsWeb.

American Ancestors Offers New Employee Benefit Program to Corporations

The following announcement was written by American Ancestors (also known as the New England Historic Genealogical Society):

December 10, 2019—Boston, Massachusetts—In a crowded field of employee benefit options available to companies in Boston, a new program offered by American Ancestors stands apart. The growing interest in genealogy, family history, and DNA testing has inspired American Ancestors to offer companies something unique in the category.

American Ancestors, also known as New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS), has announced a new Corporate Membership Program designed for Boston-area companies that want to offer a genealogical research experience with its many celebrated benefits to company personnel. Researching and studying genealogy and family history has experienced a surge in interest and participation in recent years and NEHGS, creators of the respected American Ancestors brand in genealogy with many popular products and services, is among the leaders in the industry.

GEDmatch, the Controversial Genealogy Website that Helped Crack the Golden State Killer Case, has been Bought by a Forensic Genetics Firm

Late breaking news: Crime scene DNA sequencing company Verogen has just acquired GEDmatch, a genealogy database credited with helping to solve some 70 rapes and murders.

Verogen, a San Diego-based company that provides equipment for high-tech sequencing of crime-scene DNA, has announced that it has acquired GEDmatch, a website that rose to fame after it led cops to the alleged Golden State Killer.

(You can read about GEDmatch’s genealogy DNA matching web site in previous articles in this newsletter by starting at: https://duckduckgo.com/?q=site%3Aeogn.com+gedmatch&t=brave&ia=web.)

GEDmatch has been caught in the crossfire of a bitter argument between genealogists who believe the site has compromised its users’ privacy and those who want to work with law enforcement to help solve violent crimes.

Laboratory for Advanced Medicine Inc. has Hired a new Chief Executive Officer: Kenneth Chahine, a former Ancestry.com Executive

Friends and former co-workers might be interested to know that Kenneth Chahine, Ph.D., J.D., has moved to Laboratory for Advanced Medicine Inc. He is the new CEO and is competing with several venture-backed startups in a new market for blood tests that detect cancer in its early stages.

Laboratory for Advanced Medicine is an AI-driven healthcare company focused on commercializing early cancer detection tests from a simple blood draw.

You can read the announcement at: https://tinyurl.com/eogn191105.