RootsTech 2014

Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Sunday, February 9, 2014

MyHeritage -- The Vision to Become the Leading Genealogy Company #RootsTech 2014

Record acquisition and technology innovation can go hand in hand to produce great genealogy products and the large leading online genealogy database companies are no exception. All four of the leading genealogy companies are rapidly developing both technology and record acquisition, but after my study and discussions at RootsTech 2014, MyHeritage.com is clearly leading the way with breakthrough technology. With a phenomenal growth rate and new product enhancements appearing regularly, it is clear to me that they have become the leader in many areas.

I certainly do not want to diminish the accomplishments of FamilySearch.org, Ancestry.com or findmypast.com, but none of them seem to have the vision, objectives and pure energy of MyHeritage.com. Do not think that this opinion is in any way influenced by my past association with the company. If anything, it is the other way around. I recognize the importance of the significant developments this company has made in the past two or three years and I am interested because that is where the innovation is coming from. Nowhere was this more evident than in a luncheon meeting at RootsTech 2014 hosted by MyHeritage.com and presented primarily by Mike Mallin, MyHeritage's Chief Product Officer. This was one of the best presentations I have heard at a conference.

Compared to the other three large online genealogy companies, MyHeritage.com is a relatively recent start-up. FamilySearch has its origins back in 1894 with the formation of the Genealogical Society of Utah. See Genealogical Society of UtahAncestry.com began with the formation of Infobase back in 1990 which first went online in 1995. See Wikipedia: Ancestry.com. Findmypast was originally formed in 1965 as a small group of professional and probate genealogists called 'Title Research." See Wikipedia: findmypast. While MyHeritage.com began in 2003 when CEO Gilad Japhet and a team of genealogy enthusiasts founded MyHeritage in Japhet's living room in the moshav of Bnei Atarot, just outside Tel Aviv, Israel. See Wikipedia: MyHeritage. It is remarkable what MyHeritage has been able to accomplish in such a short time.

Mike Mallin's presentation was partially biographical. Interestingly, his story about how he became an employee of MyHeritage is similar to several of those I have heard previously. His main product announcements for the Conference were:
  • Enhancements to the mobile versions of MyHeritage
  • Family Tree Builder 8.0
  • An upcoming Mac version of Family Tree Builder
But MyHeritage.com has been announcing new record acquisitions during the weeks leading up to to RootsTech including a huge Scandinavian collection and 815 million recent U.S. records. They have also spent the last year perfecting their premier search products, SuperSearch, Record Match, and Record Detective.

Summarizing from Mike, MyHeritage's silent guiding principles are:
  • Our family trees each owned by single person and enjoyed by extended family, with extensive privacy controls, but interconnected
  • Every MyHeritage user benefits from universe of 27 million trees because of our matching technologies and discoveries it allows us to help users make
  • Discoveries keep things dynamic. The past is a living puzzle.
The hallmark of the technology developed by MyHeritage is its accuracy. If you allow the program to search your family tree for links to other family trees or source records, they have achieved a 97% accuracy rate. If you do your own search, using limited information the results are not nearly so accurate. In my case, I currently had 6502 Record Matches from 54 historical collections, waiting for me to process. When  you add to this the program's recently added ability to extract information from these discovered source records and attach them to individuals in the user's family tree, you have something none of the either companies can claim with such accuracy.

All this is not to say that the other large genealogy companies cannot copy or even surpass MyHeritage in the future, It is today's reality and has been for the past year, that the major innovations most valuable to genealogists are being developed by MyHritage now and it looks like they will continue to lead in the future.

Now, I don't care to get into a discussion about who has the "best" of anything. So far, it is very likely that MyHeritage.com is not nearly as well known as either of the other two family tree companies in English. But MyHeritage is presently available in 40 different languages. Looking forward, MyHeritage, according to Mike Mallin will be moving forward and that during 2014 several areas will be announces that they are working on the following areas:
  • Adding more data so they can help their users make more amazing discoveries 
  • Continue to procure and index valuable historical records
  • Continue reaching beyond the United States to Europe and other regions
  • Enhanced presentation of discoveries to users across web, smartphone and tablet
  • Maximized value for user from set of possible discoveries
  • They will continue to develop true relationship with user from his very first experience and through his entire life with MyHeritage
If you carefully study this list, as I have, you will realize that they are aiming at exactly those things where added improvements to MyHeritage will allow them to continue to grow as they already have. For all of the three other companies, access to FamilySearch Historical Record Collections will make them more international. MyHeritage already has the customer base best able to take advantage of adding records in a large number of non-English speaking countries. 

I will continue with this analysis later. I realize that most people are looking for concrete examples of "new products or services," however, I think that taking the pulse of a large corporation through their goals and policy statements are much more indicative of things to come. Whatever happens we will benefit from the developments either directly or as other companies copy the technology and adapt it to their own use. 

1 comment:

  1. The best thing MH has going for it is Geni. Nothing else comes close.

    ReplyDelete