Wrapping Up a Fantastic 2019

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The end of 2019 marks the close of a memorable decade for us at MyHeritage — a decade of growth and innovation. We are proud of all that we’ve accomplished and can’t wait to reach new and exciting milestones in the coming decade.

Over the past 10 years, we’ve built up a treasure trove of global historical records, introduced MyHeritage DNA tests for genealogy and for health, signed up 69 million users, added 3.07 billion family tree profiles, acquired 7 companies, welcomed 406 employees, and so much more.

2019 was in itself a year of significant accomplishments. Here at MyHeritage, it was also a year of health. We have taken active steps to support our users in making choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life. By understanding your past through genetic genealogy and understanding your potential health risks, you can make informed decisions that may have a beneficial impact on your future and that of your family.

Here are some stats from the past year:

Recap of 2019’s highlights:

January

In January, we officially kicked off our activities leading up to the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest with amazing family history content. We partnered with a select group of Eurovision stars — past and present — to take them on a journey of family history discovery.

February

Friend of MyHeritage and author of Something Beautiful Happened, Yvette Corporon, visited the set of Fox and Friends in February and revealed to Griff Jenkins his MyHeritage DNA results live on air. Yvette provided Griff with his ethnic breakdown and fascinating genealogical research supported by historical documents found by the MyHeritage research team.

Our team showed up in full force at the largest genealogy event of the year — the RootsTech 2019 conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. MyHeritage was a Platinum sponsor of the conference. With a major MyHeritage announcement each day of the conference, excitement levels remained high throughout. Read our full recap here.

At RootsTech, we announced two exciting DNA features: AutoClusters and Theory of Family Relativity™.

AutoClusters is a new genetic genealogy tool that groups together DNA Matches that likely descend from common ancestors in a compelling visual chart. This easy-to-use tool helps you explore your DNA Matches more efficiently in groups rather than as scattered individuals, making it easier to gain insights about branches in your family tree.

The Theory of Family Relativity™ feature helps you make the most of your DNA Matches by combining genealogical information from billions of family tree profiles and historical records to offer theories on how you and your DNA Matches might be related. If you’ve taken a MyHeritage DNA test or uploaded your DNA results to MyHeritage, this revolutionary technology may offer new information on your family connections.

These were some of the top features we’ve released in the past few years, and our users were thrilled with them.

Another big announcement at RootsTech was the extension of our pro bono initiative DNA Quest. Launched in March 2018, DNA Quest is a pro bono project to reunite adoptees and their birth families through genetic testing. Following the success of the original initiative, we decided to extend DNA Quest and donate an additional 5,000 free MyHeritage DNA kits to eligible participants, with the goal of helping adoptees worldwide reunite with their biological families.

Founder and CEO Gilad Japhet announced that MyHeritage has completed its goal of digitizing all of Israel’s cemeteries. Israel is now the first country in the world to have almost all of its gravestones digitized and available online — for free.

March

At the end of the month, we released the MyHeritage Eurovision Look-alike app to discover which Eurovision star you most resemble.

April

In April, we announced the MyHeritage Eurovision Bus Tour. From April 5–21, MyHeritage traveled throughout Europe, encouraging fans to share the Eurovision fever and make exciting family history discoveries.

We hosted Netta Barzilai, winner of the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest, at the MyHeritage headquarters to reveal her family history and MyHeritage DNA results.

We invited 6 of the top pastry and chocolate artisans in France to explore how their roots have influenced their culinary creations. Learn more about the chefs and their family history discoveries on our Gourmet Origins site.

May

Yvette Corporon returned to the set of Fox and Friends in May to reveal the ethnic origins of the new co-host, Jedediah Bila. Jedediah uncovered fascinating insights about her heritage thanks to her MyHeritage DNA results, and heard some interesting tidbits from her colorful family history.

The world’s biggest live music event, the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest took place in May in Tel Aviv, Israel. As Presenting Partner, our team produced content focused on the rich heritage of the Eurovision Song Contest.

In May we announced the launch of the MyHeritage Health  test, which offers new dimensions of genetic insight to enrich your life, enlighten you about your health, and help you make informed lifestyle choices. There is power in knowing your health risks, and benefits to sharing that information with family members so that they are also informed.

The new health test was launched with detailed health reports for 27 conditions. These include innovative polygenic reports for common conditions like heart disease, female breast cancer, and type 2 diabetes; genetic risk reports for 11 monogenic conditions including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and Crohn’s disease, and 13 carrier status reports for conditions including Tay-Sachs disease, cystic fibrosis, and sickle cell anemia.

We held a Mother’s Day competition asking users to send in their look-alike photos with the women in their families. The results poured in and the resemblances were uncanny.

June

In June, we began selling MyHeritage DNA kits in 30 different Costco stores across the U.K. and Iceland. The increased availability of MyHeritage DNA kits in the U.K. has contributed to even more DNA Matches for MyHeritage DNA users all over the world.

July

We refreshed the data for the Theory of Family Relativity™ to produce new and updated theories that explain how you and your DNA Matches may be related.

Television personality Dr. Phil welcomed MyHeritage back on his show to reveal to his wife, Robin McGraw, previously unknown details about her family history.

August

As part of a new partnership with the Backstreet Boys, each band member took a MyHeritage DNA test to learn more about his origins, and they eagerly awaited their results. This video follows AJ, Howie D., Nick, Kevin, and Brian as they receive their results.

A study that was conducted by MyHeritage in conjunction with statistician and demographer Dr. Daniel Staetsky uncovered that there are surprising numbers of people descended from Jewish ancestors in Hungary — far higher than previously estimated by demographers.

September

In September, we hosted MyHeritage LIVE 2019 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Our second annual user conference was one of the most memorable genealogy events of the year, bringing together MyHeritage staff, internationally renowned genealogy and DNA experts and speakers, and MyHeritage users from 30 countries around the world.

MyHeritage Live 2019 Amsterdam

Read our full recap of MyHeritage LIVE, and watch MyHeritage lectures from the conference online for free.

Check out some of the highlights from the conference in this video:

At MyHeritage LIVE, we premiered the film The Missing Piece, an original MyHeritage documentary. The Missing Piece is a powerful and inspiring film about hope and discovery. It tells the story of 2 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.

Another exciting announcement at MyHeritage LIVE was the launch of our new knowledge base, MyHeritage Education. This online hub is filled with resources to enhance your understanding of the MyHeritage platform and help you make the most of your family history research. The free site contains how-to videos, webinars, articles, and downloadable resources. The site is now available in 10 languages and new content is being added on a weekly basis. Read more about the knowledge base in this blog post.

This video will give you a run-through of the new website:

Also in September, MyHeritage announced that it acquired SNPedia and Promethease. This was our first consumer health acquisition and our 10th acquisition since MyHeritage’s founding.

Right before the Rugby World Cup, MyHeritage brought together Chris Robshaw, Jamie Heaslip, Serge Betsen, and Sean Fitzpatrick — four of rugby’s biggest legends — to uncover their ethnic origins and make some amazing family history discoveries.

MyHeritage returned to Dr. Phil’s set in September to present him with the results of his MyHeritage Health test and discuss his genetic risks. MyHeritage genetics consultant, Jessica Greenwood, MS, LGC, joined Dr. Phil on air to discuss his results.

October

MyHeritage’s Chief Science Officer, Dr. Yaniv Erlich, was featured on TEDMED, the global community dedicated to sharing impactful ideas and empowering leaders of change across health and medicine. Yaniv spoke about the potential of biomedical research and the many insights we can gain from genealogy research. These insights include longevity of individuals, migration patterns, and more.

Brazilian national icons, football players Emerson, Aldair, and Amoroso, took a DNA test with MyHeritage to learn about their unique origins and see if there’s more to their team spirit than meets the eye.

November

We enhanced the family tree List View, an important family tree view that’s especially convenient for working with large family trees. List View is now more useful than ever: you can access Smart Matches™, Record Matches, and DNA Matches directly in the list, easily search and sort individuals, and take advantage of many other helpful features.

December

In December, we shared experiences from our recent Tribal Quest expedition to the heart of the Amazon rainforest, where we captured the rich heritage and family stories of the Achuar tribe of Ecuador. This was the fourth Tribal Quest expedition, our global initiative to document the family histories of remote tribal people whose culture is at risk of extinction. Visit the stunning new section of our Tribal Quest website to learn more about the Achuar tribe.

Just a few weeks ago, we announced a major addition to the MyHeritage Health test — 9 new health reports, the first of many updates that we intend to release in the future. The 9 new reports include a polygenic risk score for evaluating genetic risk for high blood pressure, 3 reports that estimate genetic risk for developing a disease, and 5 carrier status reports that indicate if an individual is a carrier of a disease that may be passed from a couple to their children if both partners are carriers for the same condition. The addition of the new reports brings the total number of health reports to 36, consisting of 4 unique polygenic risk scores (including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and female breast cancer), 14 reports on personal genetic risk for developing health conditions, and 18 carrier status reports. Many of these reports are exclusive to MyHeritage.

Following the success of MyHeritage LIVE 2018 and 2019, in December we announced that MyHeritage LIVE, our annual user conference, will take place in Tel Aviv on October 25–26, 2020. We hope to see you all there!

A unique documentary was produced by I Am Migration in partnership with MyHeritage. The film celebrates diversity in the United States and the range of cultures that come together to make the United States a truly vibrant mosaic of people. The full documentary is available for free. We’ve also produced a Spanish version of the documentary, and there is a lot of other great content to see on the I Am Migration website.

The useful feature called Related Records, in historical record pages, was updated. This feature was previously called “The Record Detective”. This feature displays additional records that may belong to the same person featured in the current record. We now show Related Records in a convenient panel on the right-hand side of the record, instead of below it. We also re-calculated them, adding hundreds of millions of additional Related Records. This will open the door to many new and exciting discoveries.

Family Reunions

MyHeritage has emerged as the leading global service for DNA Matching to relatives around the world. Thanks to our extensive worldwide DNA database, we are better positioned than other services to facilitate reunions between family members scattered across the globe.

With new family reunions taking place every day, here are just a few that we want to highlight from 2019:

Faith Loftesness of Colorado was adopted as a baby at a hospital in 1957 in Albany, New York. She was 9 when she learned she was adopted. Then she began looking for her biological parents, wanting to know more about where she came from. Her 50-year search finally ended when she reunited with her biological mother, thanks to MyHeritage DNA.

In one of the most heartwarming reunions this year, Sandra Tirone reunited with her father just days before his death, after 44 years of searching. Sandra traveled with her children to meet her father, George, who was on his deathbed. George was introduced to his grandchildren who he never knew existed, before it was too late. Just 3 days after their emotional reunion, George passed away.

It looked like a complete dead-end for John Cummings and his biological father Rick, who searched for each other for many years. After receiving a MyHeritage DNA kit for Christmas last year, John got a match with a first cousin, who was able to connect him with his father. Not only had they lived an hour’s drive away from each other, at one point they even worked right across the street from one another!

A DNA upload to MyHeritage gave Tracy Shand from Melbourne, Australia a 14% match — a likely first cousin, or great-nephew. That led her to her reunion with her biological father.

Born in Germany just after World War I, Irma Karczewski was raised by her aunt. Irma didn’t know of any biological family that remained, and she searched for over six decades without success. Thanks to a MyHeritage DNA test taken by her granddaughter, she found her long-lost brother and was able to celebrate her 99th birthday surrounded by newfound family members.

Growing up, Kevin Williams always wished to have a father. It was a DNA upload to MyHeritage — and a helping hand from MyHeritage Founder and CEO Gilad Japhet — that finally cracked the case for him.

Siblings Henrik and Maria were both adopted from South Korea by Swedish families — and found each other in early 2018 thanks to MyHeritage DNA. They believed that their happy ending couldn’t get any better, until their MyHeritage DNA results revealed another half-sister living in the United States!

Jenna Behrmann grew up knowing nothing about her biological family or any other siblings. She always yearned to know more about where she came from. DNA Quest finally led Jenna to her biological mother, Sue, and 3 half-siblings. It turned out that Jenna had been living a mere 45-minute drive from her birth mother!

Diane Riminiscenza applied for DNA Quest in March 2018 to learn more about her roots, and to be able to pass on her heritage to her children and grandchildren. Through the pro bono project she uncovered three siblings, and was able to spend Christmas with them for the first time this year.

 

Webinars

In 2019, we placed emphasis on producing informative in-depth MyHeritage webinars given by experts in genealogy and DNA testing and covering a variety of topics. Webinars allow MyHeritage users to learn at their own pace and from the comfort of their own homes.

Here are some of our most popular webinars from 2019:

Gain a deeper understanding of MyHeritage products and features in the webinars section of our knowledge base.

 

Historical Records

We reached an important milestone — there are now over 10.5 billion records from 22,000 unique global collections on MyHeritage SuperSearch™!

In 2019 alone, we published 1.5 billion records from 80 important collections. Here are some of the important new collections that we added this year:

France, Nord Civil Marriages, 1792–1937

Two collections from Germany: Hesse Birth Index, 1874–1911 and Hesse Marriage Index, 1849–1931

Norway Census Records, 1801, 1865, 1891, 1900, 1910

1940 Denmark Census

Netherlands Newspapers, 1659-1899

U.S. Newspaper collections from Florida, Texas, Kansas, and Wisconsin

Australia Electoral Rolls, 1893–1949

Quebec Marriage Returns, 1926–1997

 

Conferences

 In 2019, we attended genealogy conferences around the world in Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Holland, the U.K., the U.S., and more.

We hope to see you soon at a conference near you!

MyHeritage Team

This year we moved our Tel Aviv office to a new location and hired 131 new employees. Our employees’ families also grew — we celebrated 8 MyHeritage weddings and added 30 new babies to our family trees!

Employees enjoyed lectures throughout the year on various subjects such as breast cancer awareness, information security, producing the Eurovision Song Contest and more.

We held two Hackathons, one in January and one in December, where employees spent the days dedicated to new initiatives and teamwork. It’s a great opportunity for employees to develop new and creative ideas in a fun and exciting atmosphere.

Over the year, each team took breaks from their work to tour the country and have some fun. One highlight was the company trip to Eilat. Everyone had a great time hanging out on the beach, eating great food, and relaxing. Here are some pictures from their adventures out of the office.

In addition to our pro bono initiatives, we run company-wide volunteer programs where our employees have the chance to give back to the community. MyHeritage team members regularly visit a local high school and mentor disadvantaged youth. Employees have also volunteered to help the elderly on home renovations and creating gardens in kindergartens, among other initiatives.

Conclusion

As the decade comes to a close, we’re happy to look back at how far we’ve come over the past 10 years. Our talented team hasn’t stopped growing.

Here are pictures of our team at the company headquarters through the years:

2011
2013
2014
2015
2018
2019

We want to thank our users, and everyone who has been a part of our journey over the past 10 years and beyond. We’ve seen how important community and people are to growth and success, and we’re looking forward to working for you and with you in the coming years.

Wishing you and your families a Happy New Year!

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  • Ken Hayes


    January 1, 2020

    A PRODUCT IMPROVEMENT SUGGESTION:

    When looking at your DNA matches, it is very helpful and time saving for the “Comments” box to show a couple of lines from the comments in the box (like Ancestry does). Otherwise, you have to open each comment box to see what is there, very time consuming.

    I like how you put so much information showing the common names in family trees with dna matches, etc. Again, this saves time of searching the tree for commonalities. Keep it going!

    Thank you.