23    Nov 201112 comments

MyHeritage acquires FamilyLink.com and WorldVitalRecords.com!

It is with great pleasure that we announce our acquisition of FamilyLink.com, Inc., the Utah-based company that operates the Websites FamilyLink.com and WorldVitalRecords.com.

This is our seventh and largest acquisition so far and the two Websites are joining the MyHeritage family. The exciting news was released on Techcrunch and announced by us in a press release that you can read here. We will soon be sending a personal email to our users about it.

Websites WorldVitalRecords.com and FamilyLink.com. Click on the image to view full size.

Here is some information about this news and its importance to the users and the genealogy world:

What got MyHeritage interested in FamilyLink?

FamilyLink has been one of the major players in the family history space and we've been tracking it since 2006. As you can see in this much cited list of the most popular genealogy websites worldwide:
http://www.progenealogists.com/top50genealogy2011.htm
their two websites FamilyLink.com and WorldVitalRecords.com have been ranked as the #8 and #30 most popular websites in 2011. That's substantial.
MyHeritage.com itself is #2 on the list, and obviously growing in strength through this acquisition.

FamilyLink was particularly interesting for MyHeritage, because it has a major asset that we lacked: historical records. Billions of them. Historical records are the natural companion for family trees, which are our specialty.
Together users will enjoy automatic matches with this historical content. As an example, FamilyLink allowed you to manually search the world's largest collection of historical newspapers. But on MyHeritage.com, you won't have to search manually. Our users have already uploaded 21 million family trees, with almost one billion profiles, so we intend to automatically search, on behalf of each of our users, for relevant mentions of his/her ancestors in newspapers in the last 300 years. Then just show the best results we discovered. The same of course with all the historical content records. This is family history at its best. Effortless, Educating, Enjoyable and Easy to share with family.

What will happen with the FamilyLink employees?

All employees who were working on the FamilyLink genealogy business are continuing with MyHeritage. We are very happy with this, as they are a super talented team. They have many skills that we were looking for, such as expertise in obtaining and managing billions of historical records. As you can see from the photo below, the FamilyLink employees are also very happy to be joining the MyHeritage family. Paul Allen, the founder of FamilyLink.com, will not be continuing with MyHeritage. Paul Brockbank, the CEO of FamilyLink.com, will help us with the transition and later join the MyHeritage advisory board. We will keep the same office of FamilyLink and it will become the first MyHeritage office in the USA, in Provo, Utah.

Gilad Japhet (Founder and CEO) and Yuval Ben-Galim (EVP of R&D and Operations) popping the champagne

Celebrating a historical moment in family history

Who's on the new MyHeritage USA team?

USA team

We're proud to introduce our great new team. From left to right: Standing in top row: John, Justin, Paul H., Ricky, Richard, Spencer, David, Mark. Sitting in bottom row: Christine, Paul B., Lindsey, Tara. Plus Julie who missed the photo shoot!

Why is the first U.S. office going to be in Utah?

Utah is one of the best places to be in the family history world. Salt Lake City, with the Family History Library of the LDS, is considered by many to be the genealogy capital of the world.
There may be more interest and passion in genealogy in Utah, per capita, than anywhere else in the world. Israel, where the MyHeritage headquarters are located, also ranks very high in this regard.
The region of Salt Lake City, Provo and Orem has an abundance of talented engineers who also adore, and often practice, genealogy.   There is also a lot of expertise already developed by people who have worked in the past in genealogy companies and in FamilySearch.org, the genealogy website of the Mormon Church. This makes Utah a great place to hire talent for any genealogy company. So it makes a lot of sense for us to have our USA office here.

What is your goal for the company? For customers?

We would like to make MyHeritage the best choice for families all over the world to explore their history and share it. We would like to provide services not just about the past, but also about the present. Building family trees is a very important aspect of this, and historical records are also an essential ingredient. They add color and help understand the past. On top of this family history core, we are adding more services and value for families in layers, using our new Family Graph API. For example, look out for our automatically generated printed family calendars, coming up very soon! In addition, we want to continue and make the experience of using the service simpler and friendlier, and have it work across all devices including mobile phones and tablets. We're striving to make the service appealing for genealogists, but also to family members, including people with little or no interest in family history. We're building a safe online place to keep in touch with family, where privacy is still respected and guarded. Our website is global and operates in 38 languages. A large percentage of our staff is international and we have presence on the ground in multiple countries, with Facebook and Twitter accounts, and daily blogs, in many languages. So we see our service as a global one, and we plan to increase the historical record collections that FamilyLink had, to provide more global coverage. In the long term, naive as it may sound, we'd love for all families of the world to be enjoying our platform.

How much did MyHeritage pay to buy FamilyLink?

Financial specifics cannot be divulged, but we can confirm that this represents our largest acquisition to-date.

Why did the deal not include the We're Related application for Facebook?

The Facebook application called We're Related developed by FamilyLink was not part of the sale, it has been developed by a separate business unit and staff of the sellers, and it will continue to operate independently after the deal, and will not be affiliated with MyHeritage. Neither will be a few other smaller properties of FamilyLink such as an advertising network.

How exactly will this work? Will FamilyLink take the MyHeritage name?

We are retaining the brands FamilyLink.com and WorldVitalRecords.com but we have added "A MyHeritage company" below them.
To introduce the merger, we have announced that generous discounts will be given on each service, to the existing users of the other. The FamilyLink content will gradually be migrated to MyHeritage as well. Further down the road we anticipate that we will consolidate all the services and content into MyHeritage.

What do MyHeritage users get out of this, how is the integration going to work?

This merger gives MyHeritage complementary assets, to the benefit of existing and new users of MyHeritage. All the content on MyHeritage was, until now, user-contributed family trees and family photos, and all the content on FamilyLink consists of historical records. All the historical records will be gradually added to MyHeritage, adding a lot of value to the users, especially once Smart Matching is expanded to automatically find relevant historical records for users on the people in their family trees. By exploring the historical records, users will be able to shed light on the past and discover much more about their family history.

Will paying subscribers of MyHeritage get access to the FamilyLink data for free?

No, but paying subscribers of MyHeritage will receive higher discounts to FamilyLink subscriptions than anyone else. This is a great time to be a MyHeritage subscriber because of these excellent discounts, and users who are considering to become subscribers are encouraged to do so, as during an introductory period of a few weeks, it will be more affordable to get complementary subscriptions on both MyHeritage and FamilyLink than later on.

What type of historical records does FamilyLink have?

There are many thousands of data collections included on the site and they can be browsed here: http://familylink.com/contentsearch.aspx?placeheader=state They consist of newspapers, birth, marriage, death, census, military, immigration records, historical maps, yearbooks, and many more types of content.

How many historical records does FamilyLink have?

FamilyLink.com has several billion names included on its database within censuses & birth, marriage and death records. The latest count is more than 4 billion names. It also contains the web’s largest newspaper collection, with over 100 million newspapers dating from 1739 to the present day, 8,000 American high school, College and Military Yearbooks, as well as the world’s largest online index of Tombstone inscriptions and Tombstone photographs

What countries are the FamilyLink records relevant for?

The records on FamilyLink are mostly relevant to the USA, UK and Ireland, Canada and Australia. There is also content relevant to more than 50 additional countries, in smaller quantities. Since users who are not currently living in USA, UK and Ireland, Canada or Australia have ancestors who lived in those countries, FamilyLink records can be useful for almost all users worldwide.

Will MyHeritage be adding historical content from other countries?

Yes! This plays an important role in our plans for the future. This is especially the case in countries where MyHeritage is the family history market leader, such as most countries in Europe and South America, and many additional countries.

What's the difference between FamilyLink.com and MyHeritage.com?

FamilyLink.com is a historical content service with vast amounts of data and records on interest and value to those exploring their family roots. MyHeritage.com is an online family network site where people can build and share their family trees, find new relatives and use these links to explore their past. With the purchase of FamilyLink.com and WorldVitalRecords.com, MyHeritage will also start providing historical records.

So is this good news for the genealogy world?

You betcha. MyHeritage is already one of the world’s largest family history websites in terms of user contributed family trees, and in terms of the number of registered users. Through this acquisition, MyHeritage users can access the web’s largest archive of historical newspapers, as well as review and search millions of census and birth, marriage and death records. This is a major commercial and operational step in the evolution of the company and a springboard for continued growth. Users who have picked MyHeritage have made a good choice for the future and our expanded team will continue to work very hard to develop great products for you and constantly strive to make them better.

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Comments (12) Trackbacks (10)
  1. I am a Plenum Plus Member why am I and thousands of other members being asked to pay to have access to the records of your new acquisition ?
    Sounds to me like your are trying to fleece the loyal Customer Base you already have , your decision will effect my decision when it comes to renewing my Account !
  2. countrymer has a very good point. Shouldn't this new information become part of what we already pay for?
  3. Yes, this is ridicules to pay additional cost to access this data. Companies buy Companies all the time and is usually a benefit to the customer. Unfortunately I have time before my membership expires . . . I’ll have to see how all this rolls out, but in truth if this really is an EXTRA cost, I’ll be looking elsewhere too. There are just too many good Genealogy sites out there. I work for a large corporation; once you lose a customer it’s hard to get them back, especially if a contract is involved. As a business decision, I hope you change your mind on passing this cost onto your loyal customers.
  4. i agree with all the above comments. If a person is a premium user then this new data should be part of the package he is already paying for.
  5. I already pay a premium for My Heritage. I am certainly not going to pay any more to access this data. I should be looking for another genealogy. To much
  6. I really hope that Family Link will really re-consider expecting the My Heritage Premium payers to fork out more money for the added information due to the new acquisition with My heritage. If not, they might find themselves loosing a lot of loyal customers to the competition that are like hungry wolves out there.
  7. Dear countrymr, nathanjhunt, Darryl, michael, Helle, Lucia, Lyn,

    Thank you for your feedback. We understand your point of view.

    It is not possible for us to offer the historical data for free to existing MyHeritage subscribers. Why not? Because a lot of the historical data comes from partners that require royalties on its use by customers. For example, views of UK census records require fixed royalties to the official UK archives. We cannot give all our subscribers this data for free, else the content partners will not get paid, which is not possible. We also cannot subsidize these content partners by paying them, so that our subscribers could get free data. This would lead us to incur additional, significant costs, on top of everything we have paid to do this acquisition.

    We plan to stick around and be able to provide you a reliable platform for your family heritage, for many years to come, and be a destination that you can count on, while so many other companies are falling apart.

    For an introductory period, for those interested in the historical data, we are making it possible for PremiumPlus members to purchase access to the historical data for 75% less than it normally costs, and Premium members receive a 60% discount. These discounts are very substantial, and they reward those users who are loyal subscribers on MyHeritage. Details are being sent to our users by email. Although we don't profit from these low price points, it still allows us to pay out the content partners and cover the additional costs associated with this service and its staff. We are also providing discounts to loyal customers of FamilyLink and WorldVitalRecords, on the services provided by MyHeritage, that they have never enjoyed in the past. Nobody is being forced to pay for the historical records, and the regular subscription prices aren't increased. So we are not forcing an extra expense on our users. Consider it as adding another product to our portfolio. The historical records are an exciting new perspective added for our users, that was never available before since our products went live in 2005.

    In the future once the historical records are rolled into MyHeritage, we'll do our best to offer a bundled subscription that is as attractive and competitive in the marketplace as possible. We will also apply our Smart Matching technology to locate relevant records automatically for users who have their family trees with us, which adds value.

    When a new service is added that incurs significant extra cost to us, we cannot give it free. When that is not the case, our policy has always been to give it to our subscribers for free. For example, every time a new version of Family Tree Builder is available, upgrading to it from former versions is free, and premium subscribers automatically enjoy all its new premium features. Unlike all other companies in the genealogy market, where upgrading to a new version of genealogy software costs money. We are aware that some of you will still not be satisfied with this answer, but we have tried to describe the constraints under which we are operating. Fortunately, large numbers of users have taken advantage of our 60% to 75% discounts for Premium and PremiumPlus users and will be enjoying the extra value of the historical records. For the rest, we'll do our best to offer a good bundled subscription deal in the future once the historical records are integrated into MyHeritage.

    Sincerely,
    MyHeritage team
  8. I'm rather confused about this too. When viewing the 75% discount it says there is an expiration of December 7, 2011. That doesn't seem like enough time. Also, the page only mentions WorldVitalRecords. Would I still have to pay separately for access to FamilyLink? Are they just the same website with different prices? What happens after December 7?
  9. Dear Robert,

    The 75% discount is offered until December 7, 2011. It pertains to one year access to WorldVitalRecords. We may extend this until the end of the year to give users more time.
    This is the introductory period mentioned. Access to the historical records will be for one year once you take it up. Sorry for the confusion between the discount offer period and the data access period.
    The WorldVitalRecords data will include all the FamilyLink data so you won't need it separately. Hope this clarifies it for you.

    Sincerely,
    MyHeritage team
  10. Thanks for the reply :)
  11. I've been very busy with work and only just found this out. I'll have to compare your prices to using a UK based site such as FindMyPast for access to the information. This amy also affect my long term decission to contuniue my Premium membership.
  12. Hi Malcolm

    FamilyLink.com and WorldVitalRecords.com have a database and historical content of more than 3 billion historical records. They are mostly relevant to UK and Ireland, Canada, USA and Australia (not only USA). There is also content relevant to more than 50 additional countries in smaller quantities. The content consists of newspapers, birth, marriage, death, census, military, immigration records, historical maps, yearbooks, and many other types of content. Together with the hundreds of millions of individuals in family trees on MyHeritage.com your research will effectively cover the world. I think that's pretty comprehensive coverage. And since MyHeritage members get such amazing discounts on World Vital Records subscriptions it's a great deal too.

    Hope this clarifies. Please contact us to support@myheritage.com for further comments or questions.

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