Business News

Mylestone’s Heirloom App is Shutting Down

In the February 21, 2017 edition of this newsletter at http://bit.ly/2rAmsCm, I described Mylestone’s Heirloom app as “a new startup that is experimenting with turning our digital footprints into narratives that help us recall highlights from our lives, as well as those of our family members and other loved ones. Mylestone’s mission is to ensure life’s most precious memories are accessible upon command. Utilizing memory artifacts, and a combination of artificial intelligence and external data, the company generates narratives that are available via virtual assistants, such as Alexa.”

Sadly, the service is now shutting down.

The service’s web site at https://mylestone.com/heirloom states:

Ancestry, Inc. Announces Confidential Submission of Draft Registration Statement for Proposed Initial Public Offering

Genealogy website Ancestry.com Inc on Monday said it had confidentially submitted a draft registration statement on a proposed initial public offering (IPO) to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The company did not disclose the number of shares to be offered and the price range for the proposed offering.

Last May, Ancestry.com said in a statement that the company was valued at about $2.6 billion. We can probably assume today’s price is higher. However, the draft registration statement is confidential so today’s expected price is still not known.

Here is the official announcement from Ancestry, Inc. (which seems to be very brief):

Ancestry.com Migrates Its Entire Server Infrastructure to the Cloud

I have written often about the advantages and the disadvantages of storing your data, especially backup copies, in the cloud. Mostly, it is an efficient and effective method of keeping your information safe. A lot of industry leaders agree. Now Ancestry.com’s entire data center has been moved to cloud computing.

A few years ago, I visited Ancestry.com’s data center on two different occasions. While impressive, it was a typical data center. (I have been inside hundreds of data centers over the years.) One major disaster, such as a fire or earthquake, could have left the company without a lot of data processing capabilities. To be sure, Ancestry.com maintains almost constant backups of their data. However, building a new data center after a disaster, probably in a new location, and restoring the backups would have required months, possibly years.

Geniarts – “When a Family Tree Becomes Art”

I must admit that I do not have any experience with this proposed product but it certainly looks interesting. Geniarts is the name of a company that develops “family tree templates, by creating a website dedicated to contemporary artists who imagine new family tree template.” The company also states, “In three simple steps, your family tree becomes the heart of an work of art.”

Geniarts is a company in Brussels, Belgium that has started a Kickstarter project. That is, the project is described on the Kickstarter web site as part of a global crowdfunding effort. Kickstarter collects money from the general public and provides it to the various projects described on Kickstarter.com, such as Geniarts. Project creators choose a deadline and a minimum funding goal. If the goal for that project is not met by the deadline, no funds are ever collected. The result is a kind of assurance contract.

Quoting from the Geniarts project on the Kickstarter web site:

Legacy Tree Genealogists Earns SBA Business Award

In genealogy business news, Legacy Tree Genealogists, a Utah genealogy research firm specializing in custom family history services, has been selected as the Small Business Administration Woman-Owned Business of the Year, and will be honored at an awards ceremony May 24.

“Legacy Tree Genealogists was among a competitive field of deserving applications,” said Small Business Administration spokesperson Siobhan Carlisle. “Legacy Tree stood out during the selection process because of its sustained growth in the genealogy field, for its peer-to-peer support within that community and its dedication to a high standard of personal service to its world-wide customers.”

National Library of Ireland Genealogy Service 2017 Renewed with Ancestor Network and Eneclann

The following announcement was written by the National Library of Ireland:

Dublin, Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Ancestor Network and Eneclann have been awarded the tender to support the genealogy advisory service with the National Library of Ireland in 2017.

This is the 6th year these leading Irish genealogy firms are partnering with the NLI to provide this unique genealogy service.

Visiting researchers to the NLI can avail of the advice of professional genealogists from Monday to Friday, 9:30am to 5:00pm.  The professional genealogists advise and assist on sources available at the NLI and other repositories as well as online resources.  They are also available to respond to enquiries via email, telephone or by letter.

Ancestry.com Owners Reportedly Weigh 2017 IPO of Genealogy Website

An article in the Bloomberg Markets web site reports that the owners of privately-held Ancestry.com are weighing an initial public offering of the company this year. The company’s owners, which include Permira and Silver Lake, have held talks with banks and are taking formal pitches from potential advisers who want to have a role in the offering, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.

No final decision has been made and the owners may opt to keep the business for now, the people said.

MyHeritage Appoints Prominent DNA Expert Dr. Yaniv Erlich as Chief Science Officer

The following announcement from MyHeritage was released today at the RootsTech conference in Salt Lake City. I would draw your attention to two different facts in the announcement: (1.) the credentials of Dr. Yaniv Erlich indicate that he is one of the leading DNA scientists of our time and (2.) the announcement of “MyHeritage DNA, the company’s newly established DNA service for family history and ethnicity.”

TEL AVIV, Israel & LEHI, Utah , February 9, 2017 – MyHeritage, the leading international family history and DNA company, announced today the appointment of Dr. Yaniv Erlich as its Chief Science Officer. Dr. Erlich, a DNA scientist of world renown, will lead scientific development and strategy for MyHeritage DNA, the company’s newly established DNA service for family history and ethnicity, and ensure that its products are built on a solid scientific foundation.

Dr. Erlich, nicknamed the Genome Hacker by Nature journal, brings to MyHeritage unparalleled experience in the field of genomics as Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Computational Biology at Columbia University and as a Core Member at the New York Genome Center. He is also the former principal investigator and a Whitehead Fellow at MIT’s Whitehead Institute, founder of DNA.LAND and the principal investigator of the Erlich DNA lab.

Announcing the Genealogy Business Alliance

The following announcement was written by Janet Hovorka and Jessica Taylor:

From Competitors to Community: Two Women’s Mission to Unite the Genealogy Industry
As Genealogists They’ve Dedicated Their Lives to Helping Others. Their Competitors Are No Exception.

gbaSALT LAKE CITY, UTAH, February 1, 2017 – Janet Hovorka and Jessica Taylor are both successful entrepreneurs in their own right in the booming family history industry. Hovorka, an industry leader for nearly two decades, has built several genealogy brands, including genealogyDOTcoach, a one-on-one genealogy consulting business, and Family ChartMasters, creating heirloom-quality family charts. Likewise, Taylor started Legacy Tree Genealogists in 2004, which has become the world’s highest client-rated genealogy research firm and has grown into a million-dollar business.
The pair crossed paths at a genealogy conference, and hit it off, drawn to their similarities—working mothers that wanted to take what was considered as “a hobby” by many and capitalize on the potential to grow their businesses and allow them to help bridge the divide between individuals and their ancestors on a much larger scale

“Genealogy is considered one of the largest online hobbies,” explained Taylor. “But as a small business community, many operations are still learning how to mature into the larger genealogy industry and gain the knowledge necessary to compete.”

Discouraged by the lack of a formal entity available to mentor small business and provide a cohesive community for genealogy startups to bounce ideas off one another, Taylor and Hovorka decided if an organization didn’t exist, they would create one – and the Genealogy Business Alliance was born.

Ancestry’s CEO, Tim Sullivan’s Message Concerning the Recent Restrictions on Immigration

With the recent political climate, Ancestry’s CEO sent an email to the entire company. Tim also wanted to share it with others. Feel free to share this as well:

The last 48 hours in the U.S. have been both heart-breaking and outrageous. Of immediate importance is the status of our Ancestry employees and/or their families. We do not believe that any of our employees are currently affected, but if we are wrong, please let us know immediately, and we will do everything we can to help.

Our company values decency, works hard to embrace diversity, and is very familiar with the difficulties that families all over the world have endured for centuries in their attempts to stay together and to improve the lives of the next generation. We are a company that lives history, so we’re familiar with the ugliness that we’re witnessing right now. We’ve seen how families were impacted by the quotas on Chinese immigration less than a hundred years ago, by the refusal to accept Jewish refugees fleeing the horror of Nazi Germany, and by the absurd detainment of Japanese Americans during that war. Today, it is broadly understood that these policies each left a black mark on our history and ran counter to the fundamental values of openness and inclusion that are our country’s strength.

New Leadership Team Members at Ancestry Announced

The following announcement was written by Ancestry.com:

Ancestry Bolsters Product, Tech and Marketing Leadership Teams with Industry Veterans

Nat Natarajan, from Intuit, Joins as Executive Vice President of Product and Technology

Vineet Mehra, from Johnson & Johnson, Joins as Executive Vice President and
Chief Marketing Officer

LEHI, Utah and SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 30, 2017 — Ancestry, the global leader in family history and consumer genomics, today announced two new appointments to its growing executive team. With more than three million having taken its AncestryDNA test and record sales during the fourth quarter of 2016, Ancestry remains the world’s largest consumer genomics provider and first choice for consumers looking to understand more about who they are and where they come from.

Social Media Users Play a Crucial Role in Driving Demand for Genealogy Products and Services

genealogy-products-and-services-markeIf you or your employer are in the genealogy business, you may be interested in a new report from Transparency Market Research: Genealogy Products and Services Market: Overview. In fact, you may find it to be interesting reading even if you are not in the genealogy business.

The report states:

“Thus, these DNA tests are providing a lucrative market to the genealogy products and services. There are many other driving factors for the growth of this market, which include continuous innovations in technology, rapidly increasing interest towards genealogy, and increasing usage of social networking sites worldwide. Recent technological advancements have equipped the genealogy consumers with most up-to-date tools for genealogical research, which will further help the growth of this market.

Save $39 on a Year of Dropbox Pro with One Terabyte of Storage, Plus a Free $25 Gift Card

dropbox_logoDropbox is a very popular cloud-based file storage service. I know that many genealogists use it. However, the company only offers 2 gigabytes of free file space, one of the lowest free offers in the file storage business. If you like Dropbox but would like more space, PC manufacturer Dell is offering a big sale on annual Dropbox Pro subscriptions that include one terabyte (1,000 gigabytes) of storage. Dropbox Pro is normally $99 a year but this discount drops the price to $59.99.

In addition to the $39 discount, you’ll get a bonus $25 Dell promo gift card (shows up in the cart). If you’ve been thinking about upgrading, this is an attractive opportunity.

Ancestry Appoints Catherine Ball as Chief Scientific Officer

The following announcement was written by Ancestry.com:

Recognized Leader in Field of Genomics Will Help Company Scale DNA Offering to Millions More

catherineballLEHI, Utah, Sept. 08, 2016 — Ancestry, the global leader in family history and consumer genomics, today announced the appointment of Catherine Ball, Ph.D. as Chief Scientific Officer. In addition to overseeing the science team, Dr. Ball leads the Company’s initiatives to develop innovative new technologies and analyze genetic data at a rapidly-increasing scale.

Dr. Ball joined Ancestry in 2011 as Vice President of Genomics and Bioinformatics, helping to establish the Company’s approach to genetic genealogy leading to the launch of AncestryDNA. She has built Ancestry’s science team into a key innovation engine, driving new scientific discoveries and powering the Company’s growth to become the largest consumer genomics provider globally. Today, AncestryDNA has the world’s largest consumer genomics database and has helped more than two million customers learn more about their ethnic origins and genetic relationships.

Ancestry Appoints Carla S. Newell as Chief Legal Officer

The following announcement was written by Ancestry:

Tech industry veteran to help company continue rapid growth and global expansion

LEHI, Utah, Aug. 09, 2016 — Ancestry, the global leader in family history and consumer genomics, today announced that Carla S. Newell is joining its senior leadership team as Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel. Newell will lead the global legal team, supporting privacy, security, and risk management initiatives as the company continues to expand globally while accelerating the growth of its high-demand consumer genomics offering. Newell is succeeding William Stern, who is departing from Ancestry to pursue new business opportunities.

Prior to joining Ancestry, Newell spent more than a decade as Operating General Partner at Technology Crossover Ventures (TCV), a leading growth equity investor, where she led legal, investor relations and fundraising for the firm and its multi-billion dollar funds. Among TCV’s portfolio companies are many of the world’s most successful and recognizable consumer technology brands, including Expedia, Facebook, Fandango, Netflix, Spotify, and Zillow. Most recently she has served as an adviser and board member for a number of early stage technology companies and funds.

Ancestry.com LLC Reports Second Quarter 2016 Financial Results

The following is an excerpt from Ancestry.com LLC’s Second Quarter 2016 Financial Results, as reported this afternoon:

Second Quarter Revenues of $211.4 million, Up 25% Year-Over-Year

AncestryDNA Database Now Includes More Than 2 Million Samples

LEHI, Utah, July 20, 2016 — Ancestry.com LLC (the “Company”), the leader in family history and consumer genomics, reported financial results today for the second quarter ended June 30, 2016.

“Ancestry’s performance continued to accelerate in the second quarter,” said Tim Sullivan, Chief Executive Officer of Ancestry. “The combined value proposition of our market-leading family history and DNA offerings has helped deliver over $750 million in revenue in the last four quarters. We are excited about the opportunities ahead and remain focused on execution and investing in the long-term growth of the company.”

Second Quarter 2016 Financial Highlights

Jay Verkler Appointed Interim CEO At Findmypast

This is a major business news story: The former CEO of FamilySearch, Jay Verkler, will take over from Annelies van den Belt as interim CEO of Findmypast. The announcement states he has agreed to serve as interim CEO for six months. My assumption is that the board of directors of Findmypast will be using that time to find a permanent replacement.

The following announcement was written by the folks at Findmypast:

Jay Verkler

Jay Verkler

London, Tuesday, July 5th 2016

Jay Verkler, former CEO of FamilySearch, has been appointed as interim CEO of Findmypast. He takes over from Annelies van den Belt who has stepped down after three years.

In a decade as CEO of FamilySearch, Jay pioneered the digital transformation of the world’s largest genealogical organisation. He oversaw the shift from vast paper and microfilm record stores to accessible digital archives. He broadened the audience for family history by developing partnerships with genealogy and technology companies, societies and archives across the world. Since leaving FamilySearch, he has been a consultant on strategy, product and technology for many organisations.

Changes to Evernote’s Pricing Plans

evernote-logoI have written several times about the use of Evernote in genealogy research. Indeed, it is one of my favorite programs. I use Evernote more often than I use a genealogy program although I have to also add that I use Evernote for all sorts of things, not just for genealogy purposes. (See https://goo.gl/RXq5Ez for a list of my past articles about Evernote.)

One entry in the Evernote Blog caught my eye today: Changes to Evernote’s Pricing Plans. A quick read resulted in a sigh of relief. Evernote Basic, which I believe is the version used by most genealogists, remains unchanged at free of charge. Whew! However, not everything is the same. The free Basic plan now limits you to two devices per account, like a computer and a phone, two computers, or a phone and a tablet. You’re also still limited to just 60 megabytes of uploads a month.

Ancestry.com Opens its New Headquarters in Lehi, Utah

Ancestry.com’s headquarters have been in Provo, Utah for the past thirty years. Yesterday, the company opened its new headquarters building in nearby Lehi, Utah. CEO Tim Sullivan says the new location in Lehi at the Point of the Mountain will help the company attract top talent from both Salt Lake and Utah Counties.

AncestryHQ

DPLA and FamilySearch Partner to Expand Access to Digitized Historic Books Online

I have written before about DPLA (the Digital Public Library of America). You can read my earlier article at https://goo.gl/wenjWG. Now FamilySearch has announced a new partnership with DPLA. The following announcement was written by the folks at FamilySearch:

DPLA-FamilySearchIn concert with the American Library Association national conference in Orlando, Florida, this week, the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) and FamilySearch International, the largest genealogy organization in the world, have signed an agreement that will expand access to FamilySearch.org’s growing free digital historical book collection to DPLA’s broad audience of users including genealogists, researchers, family historians, students, and more.

Family history/genealogy continues to be a popular and growing hobby. And FamilySearch is a leader in the use of technology to digitally preserve the world’s historic records and books of genealogical relevance for easy search and access online. With this new partnership, DPLA will incorporate metadata from FamilySearch.org’s online digital book collection that will make more than 200,000 family history books discoverable through DPLA’s search portal later this year. From DPLA, users will be able to access the free, fully viewable digital books on FamilySearch.org.