Business News

Ancestry Reportedly is Preparing for a Second IPO as DNA-Test Industry Booms

Ancestry.com LLC is readying an initial public offering (IPO), according to people familiar with the matter, preparing to take advantage of growing consumer interest in DNA tests and investors’ appetite for new health and technology stocks.

It would not be Ancestry’s first time in the stock market. The company, which also hosts online repositories of family trees and historical documents, first went public in 2009, trading under the ticker ACOM after raising $100 million.

It was taken private again in 2012 in a $1.6 billion buyout led by private equity firm Permira Advisers.

Press Release: Bode Forensic Genealogy Service (FGS)

The following announcement was written by the Bode Forensic Genealogy Service:

Bode Technology’s Forensic Genealogy Service, an offering to law enforcement investigators and crime laboratories, combines advanced DNA testing and genealogy to develop ancestral relationships between samples and deliver leads.

The FGS program is a logical expansion of its service offerings to support the law enforcement community. By incorporating Bode’s accredited forensic laboratory, accredited clinical testing laboratories, and board certified and experienced genealogists, Bode has developed a high-quality, turn-key solution for our clients from sample submission through confirmation testing.

F+W Media, Citing Debt, Decline, And Mismanagement, Files For Bankruptcy Protection

F+W Media is a publisher of many popular magazines, books, digital products, videos and other content. Within the genealogy community, the company is best known as the producer of Family Tree Magazine, Family Tree University and the Family Tree website. Sadly, F+W Media filed for bankruptcy protection a few days ago.

Facing near-term liquidity issues with only about $2.5 million in cash available and $105.2 million in outstanding debt, F+W Media filed for protection under Chapter 11 of the federal bankruptcy code, citing in various documents a perfect storm of secular industry decline, poor investments, and even mismanagement.

NOTE: Family Tree Magazine published by F+W Media in the U.S. should not be confused with a magazine of the same name published in England by Warners Group Publications Plc. (See https://www.family-tree.co.uk/ for the “other” Family Tree Magazine.) The two magazines may share a name but nothing else. They are owned and published by totally different companies.

23andMe is Looking to Expand to Millions More Users with a New Genetic DNA Report on Diabetes

One in three people is at risk for diabetes. So 23andMe set out to develop the first direct-to-consumer genetic test to assess whether its users have a higher likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes, which is the most common form of the disease. The company has been around for more than a decade, but said its new diabetes report is the first of its kind.

The company is upgrading its $99 and up at-home DNA test to include a report on diabetes, with an explanation on both the genetic and lifestyle factors that influence who’s likely to get the disease in their lifetimes.

MyHeritage Extends DNA Quest Initiative to Help More Adoptees Reunite with Their Birth Families

The following announcement was written by MyHeritage:

MyHeritage pledges 5,000 additional free DNA kits for global distribution to eligible participants, following the success of the first phase of its pro bono initiative

TEL AVIV, Israel & LEHI, Utah–MyHeritage, the leading global service for family history and DNA testing, announced today that it is extending DNA Quest, its pro bono initiative to reunite adoptees with their birth families through at-home DNA testing. The first phase of DNA Quest was launched in March 2018 and offered 15,000 free DNA kits to adoptees and those seeking to reunite with family members who were placed for adoption. This resulted in many successful reunions. Due to the large number of applicants, a waiting list of several thousand people was established after registration closed in May 2018. The next phase of DNA Quest announced today re-opens applications on the project website (www.dnaquest.org) and will offer an additional 5,000 free DNA kits to eligible applicants from all countries. Preference is given to applicants who are unable to afford genetic testing.

MyHeritage helps people find their relatives using its DNA Matching technology. The MyHeritage DNA database is one of the fastest-growing in the industry and currently numbers 2.5 million people, including people who tested on MyHeritage and others who uploaded the results of their DNA test for free from other providers. Numerous participants have already reconnected with long-lost family and others have obtained vital clues to assist them in their search. New discoveries continue to emerge, offering participants newfound hope of reuniting with their long-lost loved ones. The search for biological family, especially for birth parents, is time sensitive, as each year older relatives pass away.

London FamilySearch Centre at The National Archives will Close Permanently on Saturday, 23 March 2019

Advances in technology and rising expenses of doing things “the old way” apparently have caught up with FamilySearch, just like it has everywhere else. For the past few years, FamilySearch has maintained the London FamilySearch Centre (including volunteers who helped patrons with the many microfilms and computers in the Centre) at The National Archives in London, England. Now that Centre is being closed.

The following is the announcement from FamilySearch:

Advances in technology mean that FamilySearch can now provide its free services to
visitors at The National Archives more flexibly. Many records can now be accessed at
home, in one of our local Family History Centres, or in a FamilySearch Affiliate Library.

The National Archives has agreed to become a FamilySearch Affiliate Library, meaning
that access to all digitised records on FamilySearch will continue on PCs located in the
reading rooms. Visitors will need a FREE FamilySearch account to access records and
self-help guides will be available. You will notice little difference, other than that our
volunteer workers will no longer be present to provide 1 to 1 assistance.

Available digital records include:

Findmypast Announces Acquisition of RootsFinder, Inc. and the RootsFinder Family Tree Product

The following announcement was written by Findmypast:

  • RootsFinder accelerates Findmypast’s development of the Findmypast Tree.
  • Acquisition marks the latest step in Findmypast’s drive to innovate and enhance user discoveries.
  • RootsFinder founder, Dallan Quass, joins the Findmypast team to assist with future integration work and tree development

Leading family history website, Findmypast, has acquired RootsFinder Inc. and their critically acclaimed RootsFinder family tree product, including new features to help customers analyze their DNA results.

The acquisition reflects Findmypast’s drive to innovate and enhance their customer experience by providing users with new ways to curate, share and explore their family history discoveries. 

Bode Technology Announces Forensic Genealogy Service to Law Enforcement Agencies and Crime Laboratories

This won’t help any of us find our ancestors. However, it is interesting to see what other organizations are doing with DNA databases:

LORTON, VA. FEBRUARY 11, 2019 – Bode Technology (Bode), a leading provider of forensic DNA analysis products and services, announced a new forensic genealogy service offering to law enforcement investigators and crime laboratories. Bode’s Forensic Genealogy Service (FGS) combines advanced DNA testing and genealogy to develop ancestral relationships between samples and deliver leads to our clients.

For more than 20 years, Bode has provided forensic DNA testing services for clients across the world to identify perpetrators of crimes, identify the missing and exonerate the innocent. The results are entered into the national DNA database and investigative leads are developed from the matches within the database, however not all samples result in matches.

New Library Director at the Godfrey

The following announcement was written by the Godfrey Memorial Library in Middletown, Connecticut:

January 9, 2019 – The Godfrey Memorial Library is pleased to announce that Carol Ansel has been appointed Library Director as of January 1, 2019.

Carol has been the Reference Librarian at the Library since July 2018. She has over 35 years of experience in various libraries in Connecticut and is a Board member of the Connecticut Library Consortium.

Brightsolid Announces a new CEO and a new CTO

BrightSolid, the parent company of Findmypast, has announced the appointment of two new executives. Elaine Maddison will fill the role of CEO while Bryan Lambe will join the DC Thomson-owned company as CTO.

Bryan Lambe and Elaine Maddison

Former Findmypast CEO, Elaine Van Der Berg, Moves to Amazon Web Services

Elaine Van Der Berg is well-known in the genealogy community as the former CEO of Findmypast. Her friends and acquaintances will be interested to know that she has a new position at Amazon Web Services in Edinburgh, Scotland. Her new role involves assisting European public sector clients.

Elaine has had an international career with Dell, and other technology companies, before returning to Scotland to work as managing director of G2G3, part of Capita, and then at Brightsolid.

Findmypast Partners With Living DNA to Launch the Most Detailed Ancestry Discovery Experience

The following announcement was written by Findmypast:

  • Findmypast, in collaboration with Living DNA, has launched the most advanced biogeographical ancestry discovery experience on the market
  • This British brand partnership uses cutting-edge science to reveal users’ unique British and Irish heritage across 21 regions and is the first to connect DNA to Findmypast’s archive of more than 9 billion historical records
  • Findmypast and Living DNA’s combined service allows users to pinpoint exactly where in the UK their family roots come from and then use the findings to explore their family history in extensive archives
  • Those who have already taken DNA tests can upload their tests here and make discoveries that only Findmypast DNA can provide

Leading British and Irish family history website, Findmypast, has launched their partnership with leading British DNA testing firm, Living DNA, to create a new biogeographical ancestry experience to help family historians explore their worldwide and British and Irish roots.

Available from today, the partnership combines science and history to allow people to explore their past in more depth than ever before possible. It uses Living DNA’s unique test employing cutting-edge science to provide a unique breakdown of 80 global regions, including 21 across Britain and Ireland. Exclusive to Living DNA, this method delivers a level of detail currently unmatched by any other DNA test available on the market.

Valerie Elkins & DearMYRTLE announce a Joint Venture

The following announcement was written by Valerie Elkins and Pat Richley-Erickson:

Valerie & Myrt’s Excellent Genealogy Adventures debuts today

Colorado Springs, CO, Oct 19, 2018 — In anticipation THE Genealogy Show in Birmingham, England, US-based professional researcher and presenter Valerie Elkins joins blogger and webinar host Pat Richley-Erickson, “Myrt” of DearMYRTLE.com, to announce a new partnership.

“Why not make this trip to the UK, a most excellent genealogy adventure? Every genealogist hopes to travel to ancestral homelands. Throw in a genealogy conference and that’s a family historian’s dream come true,” says Valerie.

Historic Hotels of America® Partners with New England Historic Genealogical Society and American Ancestors to Offer Historic Benefits to Clientele

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

Members of NEHGS Will Receive Discounts on Accommodations at Historic Hotels of America Hotels, Resorts & Inns

Historic Hotels of America Clientele Will Be Offered Discounted Membership to NEHGS,  America’s Founding Genealogical Organization

WASHINGTON, D.C. and BOSTON, MASS.—October 17, 2018—Historic Hotels of America®, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, is partnering with American Ancestors and New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS), the country’s oldest and largest genealogical organization, to provide advantages for patrons of both organizations. Benefits of this collaboration include discounts to NEHGS members on accommodations at participating Historic Hotels of America, and offers of discounted membership in NEHGS to Historic Hotels of America guests.

With more than 300 hotels, resorts, and inns, Historic Hotels of America’s collection of prestigious hotels will give NEHGS members the opportunity to enhance their travel with stays in some of the world’s most historically-significant hotels with special rates. Hotels in the Historic Hotels of America are selected based upon historic relevance, preserving authenticity, sense of place, and architectural integrity. NEHGS members will receive up to 30% off the lowest available rate at participating historic hotels when making a reservation through HistoricHotels.org. Through December 31, 2018, hotel patrons with a reservation will also receive a complimentary one-year family membership in the National Trust for Historic Preservation when booking through HistoricHotels.org.

Findmypast Announces Two Key Leadership Appointments

The following announcement was written by Findmypast:

  • Findmypast, part of the DC Thomson group, appoints Mark Brooker and Sam Otter to leadership positions
  • Brooker joins the Findmypast board as Director
  • Otter, an experienced digital and ecommerce leader, appointed as Findmypast’s new Chief Revenue Officer.

London, October 16th 2018

Leading British & Irish family history company, Findmypast, today announced it has strengthened its leadership team with two key appointments. Mark Brooker joins the board as Non-Executive Director, while digital and ecommerce leader, Sam Otter, has been appointed Chief Revenue Officer.

Commenting on both appointments, Tamsin Todd, CEO of Findmypast, said: “I’m delighted to welcome Sam and Mark to Findmypast. They bring a wealth of knowledge about growing consumer technology businesses in Europe and the US, and their experience will help Findmypast continue to scale.”

MyHeritage becomes Presenting Partner of Eurovision 2019

The following announcement was written by MyHeritage:

September 26, 2018 – We’re delighted to share exciting news! MyHeritage, has been announced today by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) as Presenting Partner of the Eurovision Song Contest 2019! As the event’s main sponsor, MyHeritage has been granted extensive global association and event, media, and digital rights for the upcoming song contest.

The Eurovision Song Contest is a famous international song competition held annually since the 1950’s, primarily among the member countries of the European Broadcasting Union. It is the world’s biggest live music event, a hugely popular television event that has been watched live by an average of close to 200 million people in the past 3 years. The contest is hosted by the previous year’s winning country — as Israel won the 2018 competition, Eurovision 2019 will be held in Tel Aviv.

MyHeritage now Supports 23andMe version 5 and Living DNA Uploads

Here is another industry first from MyHeritage. If you are using MyHeritage’s FREE DNA matching service or are thinking of using the FREE service soon by using DNA results obtained from another testing company, you will be interested in this news. According to an announcement from MyHeritage:

“We now support the upload of 23andMe v5 and Living DNA data files, in addition to supporting data uploads from all major DNA testing services, including Ancestry, 23andMe (prior to V5) and Family Tree DNA (Family Finder).

MyHeritage Partners with British Retailer WHSmith to Distribute DNA Kits

The following announcement was written by MyHeritage:

Tel Aviv, Israel & London, United Kingdom, September 7, 2018 — MyHeritage, Europe’s leading service for DNA testing and family history, announced today the launch of a retail partnership with WHSmith. This marks the first partnership of its kind for MyHeritage in the UK, and the first time that MyHeritage DNA tests will be available for purchase in retail stores in Europe.

Under the new partnership WHSmith distributes a unique product named MyHeritage Family History Discovery Kit, which bundles MyHeritage’s popular at-home DNA test with 3 months of access to MyHeritage’s suite of premium online genealogy services. This allows consumers to receive detailed ethnicity reports and connect with their relatives around the world through the power of DNA testing, and to utilize MyHeritage’s 9-billion-strong collection of historical records and family tree tools to embark on a journey to uncover their family history.

MyHeritage DNA Opens a European Distribution Center

One recent press release caught my eye and may interest European readers of this newsletter: MyHeritage Ltd. has opened a new distribution center for its DNA testing kits in Tilburg, a city in the south of the Netherlands, the company announced Sunday. The new center will ship and collect kits to and from most countries in Europe. Customers in Norway and Switzerland will be serviced through the company’s U.S. offices.

The move is part of a wider plan to accelerate MyHeritage’s growth in Europe, Ran Michnowski, vice president of operations for the company said in a statement.

The full announcement may be found at: http://bit.ly/2OvxS6z.

Ancestry.com is closing its Utah Call Center and will Outsource All Calls to Another Company

Ancestry.com has announced the company will close its Orem, Utah, call center, lay off all the call center employees, and transfer all future calls to an outside customer contact business. The change is expected to take place in the fourth quarter of 2018.

The change will affect less than 100 local employees, according to an Ancestry.com spokesperson. Most of the individuals will be able to move into other roles at Ancestry, or with the new call center partner which is also located in Utah. The positions will all remain in the United States.

Details may be found in an article by Karissa Neely in the Daily Herald web site at: https://tinyurl.com/ycocyuem.