Meet the Team: Maor and Maayan Cohen

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Visitors to the MyHeritage office often do a double take when they walk past the development offices. Only a few doors from each other sit twin brothers Maor and Maayan. They swear that they’re not identical twins but, looking at them, you would never guess it.

Maor was the first to interview at MyHeritage back in December 2011, but he joined the company after his brother, Maayan. Maor couldn’t immediately leave his position at a different company, but suggested Maayan as another candidate for the MyHeritage development team. “I told them that I have a very similar looking and talented brother who would be very interested,”

Maayan came for an interview at the rustic office of MyHeritage in the village of Bnei Atarot. “From the first time that I came to visit the MyHeritage offices, it felt like home.” Situated in a rural Templar home, the office was intimate and inviting. “I started working at MyHeritage, and it was clear to me that it was just a matter of time before I’d be able to convince Maor to come over to MyHeritage as well.”

“After he told me how incredible it was to work at MyHeritage, I was convinced,” says Maor. “It was only three months after Maayan started at MyHeritage that I was won over, and joined myself.”

This isn’t the first time that the twins have worked together. In fact, it’s the third company where they’ve worked side-by-side. Fresh out of university, they started their own company together. Afterward, they followed each other from company to company.

“There are days that go by that we don’t see each other at all,” says Maor. “But it’s a nice feeling to know that my brother is so close by, that there’s a family member that is always there to talk to… Even though, at MyHeritage, it really feels like everyone who works here is family.”

Maayan works as the web team leader at MyHeritage. His background is in design and user experience, in addition to development. He has been involved in the front end side of many of our beloved features such as SuperSearch, Record Matches, and the Extract Info feature. In the two years since Maayan began leading the web team, his team has worked on the Instant Discoveries pages, the new MyHeritage home page, the Discovery Hub and many other important features.

Maor is a senior member of the back end team and part of the infrastructure band. He has been involved in many projects that have significantly affected MyHeritage users such as adding record matching for Geni trees, showing what new information can be added to your family tree from records on MyHeritage, and the FamilyGraph API, allowing partners to integrate with MyHeritage genealogical data. The infrastructure that Maor built, which allows updating genealogical data via the API (add individuals, photos, events, etc.), was a critical step which allowed us to add editing capabilities to the MyHeritage mobile app.

“We really complement each other,” says Maor. “Our strengths really help each other out. I’ve always been more on the server side. I don’t have as much of a creative side. For that, I always turn to Maayan.”

The twins have always loved computers. They received their first computer at age 6 and never looked back. When they later learned to program, they couldn’t stop learning and improving their skills.

“It’s just too bad that our computer skills don’t run in the family,” jokes Maayan. “Otherwise, we’d bring over more family members to work at MyHeritage!”

Twins run in the Cohen family. Besides Maor and Maayan, there are four other sets of twins in their extended family. Also, Maor has twin daughters. “For us, It’s just like having a super-close brother,” says Maor. “We always got along, we hardly ever fought. We’ve always been such good friends, but still knew when and where to set boundaries, like having our own separate friends.”

Maayan agrees, “It’s so natural for us to be working together. Even as kids, when we could have our own rooms, we chose to share a room to be together.”

In terms of exploring their own family history, Maayan created his family tree on MyHeritage long before he joined the company. When he began working here, his tree was quite small. After two and a half years of working at MyHeritage, his niece asked for help with her family tree project. Maayan decided to look into their family history a little further. “We started to add a few details of people that we knew into the tree. And it was amazing. Almost immediately, the Smart Matches and Record Matches came pouring in,” says Maayan.

The tree really expanded, and it now includes nearly 2,400 people. They discovered some incredible things about their family.

For example, Maor’s wife’s family comes from Uzbekistan. They were sure that they wouldn’t be able to find information about her side. When Maor uncovered a matching family tree for her side, his father-in-law was ecstatic. They were automatically matched with a tree that included exact details, photos and that went back many years.

Another really exciting find was a new connection found for Maayan’s wife’s family. The family could trace themselves back to Shlomo Ganzfried, a rabbi and famous author in the early 19th-century. They were very proud of their lineage, but they didn’t know how to take their tree back further than that.

“I knew that with some sort of a celebrity in the family, we’d be sure to find more connections,” Maayan recalls. “I added everything that the family could tell me to the existing tree, and we ended up connecting their family back to Rashi. I’m not a genealogist, but MyHeritage makes it so easy.” The family was thrilled. They couldn’t believe that MyHeritage had managed to trace their family heritage to such illustrious connections.

In addition to the special work environment, the twins really appreciate the value that MyHeritage brings to people around the world. “MyHeritage is so different than other companies that I’ve worked at,” says Maor. “I really feel like we’re giving to people. Every change that we make in the code, we really see that it’s making an impact on people’s lives. I can’t help but remember the story of the user that came to visit the Family Tree Builder team with a bouquet of flowers to thank them.”

The Cohen Family, March 2016.

The whole family has been very supportive of Maor and Maayan working together at MyHeritage. Some family members were especially helpful in adding information to the family tree, supplying photos and documents. The brothers share MyHeritage news and blog posts with the family and they go out of their way to sit the whole family down to show them when MyHeritage is on the news.

“Our whole family has become part of the MyHeritage family.” Says Maor.

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  • John Nieurzyla


    June 7, 2016

    Thank you for developing the Heritage website, it is certainly needed, especially for Europe, especially eastern Europe.

  • Russell Moar


    June 7, 2016

    My name is Russell MOAR and I am interested in how Moar Cohen came to be named MOAR as a first name. I am of the belief that the surname is of Viking origin and came from the Orkney Islands of Scotland and I would be interested in the history of the name. My great Grand Father came from Stromness of the Orkney Island and his name was Alexander Moar.

  • Zehav


    June 7, 2016

    Nice!

  • Mary mgt Burke


    June 7, 2016

    Have ye any relations in ireland

  • Janice


    June 7, 2016

    Nice story! I like how Maor suggested his brother Maayan was “very similar looking” to him :-)! That’s for sure!

  • Rose atchley


    June 10, 2016

    Love Your family story and now I would like to see if you can find orphan train riders history from Italy