MyHeritage LIVE 2019 Recap

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We’ve just returned from an incredible MyHeritage LIVE conference in Amsterdam. What an experience! The excitement in the air was palpable as MyHeritage users from 30 countries around the world came together for a weekend of lectures and classes on the topics genealogy and DNA. There was also excellent entertainment lined up throughout the event. The smiles on everyone’s faces at the end of the conference said it all. 

Here’s a recap of the weekend’s events:

MyHeritage LIVE was held at the Hilton Amsterdam, a lovely canalside hotel, located near the center of the city.

Friday

Registration opened on Friday afternoon and the MyHeritage team was ready to greet the attendees. 

The MyHeritage Team at MyHeritage LIVE

Conference attendees were invited to choose a time slot for a canal tour departing from the hotel venue. 

Speakers and VIP guests were invited to a VIP dinner with MyHeritage Founder and CEO Gilad Japhet and members of the MyHeritage management team.

On Friday night, we premiered the film The Missing Piece, the MyHeritage original documentary. The Missing Piece is a powerful and inspiring film about hope and discovery. It tells the incredible story of two sisters, both abandoned as children, overcoming insurmountable odds to discover who they are and where they come from. It’s a moving testament to the meaningful discoveries being made every day through MyHeritage.

The two sisters saw their story on screen for the first time along with the conference attendees. 

Everyone was deeply moved. As Roberta Estes, Founder of DNAeXplain described, “There wasn’t a dry eye in the place.” 

Afterward, Christine and Kim answered questions on stage. 

Roi Mandel, Head researcher at MyHeritage with Kim and Christine.
MyHeritage Founder and CEO Gilad Japhet at the movie premiere

Saturday

To kick off the full day of lectures on Saturday, Gilad Japhet captivated the packed ballroom with his keynote speech. Gilad discussed recent achievements as well as upcoming features and projects. 

Gilad shared a preview of the new genetic groups that will be available in the coming months. The groups will show if you’re a member of a particular ethnic group from a geographic region, without percentages. Genetic groups will significantly impact users’ understanding of their ethnicity by adding a high level of granularity to their results. 

We will be fine-tuning the accuracy of the Ethnicity Estimate percentages to further enhance the MyHeritage DNA experience for our users.

Gilad announced that MyHeritage has acquired SNPedia and Promethease, through acquiring the company that owned and operated them, River Road Bio. This move expands MyHeritage’s intellectual property in medical genetics. You can read more in this blog post.

Gilad introduced MyHeritage Education: a new online hub filled with tons of resources to enhance your understanding of the MyHeritage platform and to help you make the most of your family history research. The free site contains how-to videos, webinars, articles, and downloadable resources and is available in five languages. More languages and content will be added on a regular basis. Read more about MyHeritage Education in this blog post

Another highlight by Gilad was free-text matching technology that reads the words from newspapers, books, and other sources, and automatically compares them to a user’s family tree to find relevant matches. MyHeritage is the only service that has this technology. It is currently available in English and Dutch, and 10 million matches have been identified and are available thus far. We hope to add more languages and newspaper collections across Europe over the coming months.

A recent family reunion story that is close to Gilad’s heart is that of a MyHeritage user named Kevin Williams. Growing up, Kevin always wished he had a father. It was a DNA upload to MyHeritage — and a helping hand from Gilad — that finally cracked the case for him. Kevin posted on a Facebook forum asking for help to find his family. He had a DNA Match to an estimated 1st cousin, but the person wasn’t responding to his messages. Gilad took it upon himself to locate the DNA Match. Thanks to Gilad’s intervention, Kevin was finally able to meet his father for the first time, as well as his half-brother, half-sister, and his grandparents. Read the full story here

Gilad discussed two pro bono projects that the MyHeritage team is working on. The first is DNA Quest which we recently ran for the second time this year, giving free DNA kits to 5,000 adoptees and those searching for relatives placed for adoption in the hope of reconnecting them with their biological families. 

Tribal Quest is another pro bono project that was initiated by a MyHeritage employee back in 2016, and aims to document and preserve valuable family history information of remote tribes around the world. A team of MyHeritage employees recently visited the Achuar tribe of Ecuador where they documented their personal stories, family history, and took photos. You’ll soon be able to find detailed stories from the expedition at www.tribalquest.org

Gilad discussed the MyHeritage Health+Ancestry test that was released this year and explained the power of knowing your health risks, as well as the benefits of sharing that information with family members so that they also know what to look out for. In the future, we plan to integrate health results with family trees to theorize which ancestor certain variants originate from.

Gilad highlighted the recent update to the Theory of Family Relativity™. The path view is unique to MyHeritage. 

Gilad announced a new partnership with the Dutch soccer team, Ajax As part of this partnership, in the coming weeks several team members will be testing their DNA with MyHeritage.

New historical records that MyHeritage users can see on SuperSearch™ include Netherlands Newspapers (4.8 million historical records), Dutch Vital Records (34.7 million historical records), France, Nord Civil Marriage Records (5.4 million historical records), 1940 Denmark Census (4 million historical records), and 1891, 1890, 1910 Norway Censuses (6.8 million historical records). 

Above all, as Gilad expressed, “what unifies us is our passion for genealogy.” That’s what brought everyone together to Amsterdam, to advance their personal family history journey with the help of MyHeritage.  

Throughout the day, that’s precisely what MyHeritage users from around the world did. Lectures in both the DNA and genealogy tracks were full of genealogy enthusiasts, new and advanced, who wanted to learn more. 

Maya Lerner, VP of Product at MyHeritage
Daniel Horowitz, MyHeritage Genealogy Expert
Diahan Southard of “Your DNA Guide”
Ran Snir, Senior Product Manager
Cyndi Ingle of “CyndisList.com”
Lisa Alzo, Expert Genealogist
Blaine Bettinger, of “The Genetic Genealogist”
Yvette Hoitink, of “Dutch Genealogy”

Panel discussions inspired interesting conversations among participants and provided plenty of food for thought.

Panel on The Future of DNA Testing with Maya Lerner, Blaine Bettinger, Roberta Estes, and Dr. Yaniv Erlich

On Saturday night, we hosted a groovy, 1960s-themed shindig featuring a Beatles cover band. The night began with a performance by the group Folkdancegroup Oriënt who performed the traditional dances of their ancestors while donning traditional Dutch clothing.  

Next, Beatlemania, a U.K. Beatles tribute band took to the stage and the crowd couldn’t get enough of them! The dancing continued until late. 

Throughout the night we offered party-goers souvenirs from their trip to Holland — a Dutch costume photoshoot! They could dress up in traditional Dutch attire, clogs and all, and receive a print of the photo. 

Even MyHeritage team members got in on the action! 

MyHeritage team members Sagih Keinan and Ran Snir
Marianne Melcherts from MyHeritage with Roberta Estes

Sunday

Lectures continued on Sunday with a jam-packed schedule of sessions by top experts. 

James Tanner, of “Genealogy’s Star”
Mike Mansfield, Director of Content Operations at MyHeritage
Leah Larkin, of “The DNA Geek”
Mike Stangel, General Manager Geni.com
Panel on DNA Testing for Health with Geoff Rasmussen, Diahan Southard, Roberta Estes, and Dr. Yaniv Erlich

Throughout the conference, MyHeritage support staff were on hand to help users with any questions that they had.

Attendees also had the opportunity to purchase MyHeritage DNA kits as well as MyHeritage DNA Health+Ancestry kits on site. 

Conference attendees were eager for the fun to continue, and as the weekend came to a close, Aaron Godfrey, VP of Marketing at MyHeritage, took to the stage.

Aaron presented some of MyHeritage’s incredible marketing efforts around the world. In his words, “Our mission is to make family history fun and accessible,” and MyHeritage does just that through projects such as testing the DNA of French chefs and chocolatiers, a partnership with the beloved Backstreet Boys about their DNA testing experience. 

The day ended on a high as Aaron announced that MyHeritage LIVE will return in 2020, and will be held in Israel. 

Attendees walked away feeling like they spent a weekend among friends, and with countless takeaways from what they learned. We’re sure that they all have lots of genealogy homework to get started on when they get back home! 

You can read summaries by bloggers Roberta Estes (Day 1Day 2), Dick Eastman (Day 1, Day 2, Day 3) and Geoff Rasmussen.

Here is some of the great feedback that we’ve received so far:

We’ll soon be releasing the informative lectures online. Stay tuned for our video highlights — they’re coming soon.

Thank you to everyone who joined us! We hope that you’ll all join us at next year’s event! 

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  • Gershon Markowitz


    September 16, 2019

    Wasn’t able to attend the conference – Where can I view the lectures online?

    Thanks

    • Esther


      September 19, 2019

      Hi Gershon,

      We will be uploading them soon, and we’ll announce it on our blog (blog.myheritage.com), so stay tuned!

      Best,
      Esther / MyHeritage

  • Catherine Cook


    September 29, 2019

    About My Heritage conference 2019,
    As 2018 Live event, it was a great experience to attend My Heritage Live 2019.
    Excellent personnel from My Heritage.
    Very professional , very humble and kind who listened to the questions given to them. And did help. Very helpful.
    The sessions were excellent.
    In 2018 I went to different track sessions. This year I only went to ” DNA TRACK” on Saturday and Sunday.
    It was very informative.
    Though I thought the sessions 2018 was really excellent they were even more excellent this year. And the lecturers were extremly skilful and competent.
    For example Blaine Bettinger, he was like teachers I had when I went to medical school in Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden. Just spot on.
    All lecturers were excellent.
    I met a very nice woman, Dr Penny Walters, who sold her book; Ethical Dilemmas in Genealogy.
    It was very interesting to talk to her about ethical questions when you do research.
    I bought her book which is very good.
    Maybe ethical dilemmas could be of interest to have as session in the future.
    I got some excellent help from Ziv Sorrek who helped me with the tree with a few problems I had.
    My Heritage’s plattform is from my point of view the most user friendly and have sources that are endless.
    Looking forward to come to the next conference in Israel 2020.

    Best Regards

    Catherine M Cook