Hillel's Tech Corner: Connecting the past to the future

SO WHAT does MyHeritage actually do?

MyHeritage (photo credit: Courtesy)
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Tell me where you came from and I will tell you where you are going.” Sounds like some sort of religious proverb, but it could also easily be the tagline of an Israeli company you might have heard of: MyHeritage.
MyHeritage was founded in 2003 by CEO Gilad Japhet, AND has over 430 employees between its offices in Israel, the US and Europe. Before I tell you what this company does, it is important to mention that MyHeritage, despite it not being your typical tech company, is backed by some of the most impressive and successful tech investors in the world who have put close to $50 million into the company. These include Bessemer Venture Partners, Accel Partners, and Index Ventures.
MyHeritage began in Gilad’s living room in Bnei Atarot, a village founded by the Templers. Then for several years the company’s headquarters were located in a Templer family estate and farmhouse in the same village. That setting is where the company grew from two to 70 employees.
MyHeritage recently made the news after acquiring the US genetic data services company River Road Bio and its two subsidiaries SNPedia and Promethease, which was the company’s tenth acquisition to date. So MyHeritage has raised a lot of money from some of the world’s top investors, and has scaled to the point that they are now acquiring many other companies in the space.
From a marketing perspective, the company has had much success in utilizing its family history and DNA products in partnerships with celebrities and high-profile individuals. These include tie-ins with the Backstreet Boys to help them understand their DNA ethnicities and connect with matches, to working with the popular Dr. Phil show and uncovering new details about his family history. This year saw MyHeritage become the presenting partner of the Eurovision Song Contest, the most-watched non-sporting event in the world. The company worked with singers, past and present, to uncover their Eurovision heritage as part of a “One Big Family” project.
SO WHAT does MyHeritage actually do? MyHeritage is a global platform for discovering your family history, uncovering your ethnic origins, finding new relatives, and gaining health insights.
How successful is MyHeritage? Their service has created over 46 million family trees and hosts over 10 billion historical records with three billion people in family trees.
MyHeritage enables users to create family trees in 42 languages. Additionally, users can search through historical documents such as census, immigration, marriage and burial records, and newspaper articles.
Today, the company has over 100 million users across over 150 countries and now has approximately 1.7 million profiles added to the site daily.
In 2016 the company launched a genetic testing service that provides both DNA matching and ethnicity estimates, and its database already has DNA samples from over three million people. MyHeritage then took this one stage further, launching their MyHeritage DNA Health+Ancestry test in May 2019, which offers new dimensions of genetic insight to enrich your life, enlighten you about your health, and help you make informed lifestyle choices.
The technology behind the MyHeritage offering includes comprehensive search and matching capabilities including people from different family trees, as well as people and historical records, advanced and affordable DNA tests, and a chromosome browser that offers a graphical representation of your chromosomes, which allows you to map shared DNA segments with up to seven other DNA matches.
As far as the actual product, there are a few offerings that allow you to make personal discoveries. There is the web platform that offers users personal family sites with a family tree, photo storage and tagging, and advanced genealogy features including global names translation and a consistency checker.
Then there is the mobile app, which is free to use and syncs with the online tree and then offers new features such as a photo and document scanner as well as a barcode scanner to activate DNA kits.
In addition, there is the actual DNA test kit, which, with a simple and painless cheek swab, no blood or sweat, gives the user an ethnic breakdown with percentages from the 42 supported ethnicities in less than a month, or their health analysis In addition to the business aspect of MyHeritage, the company does quite a bit of pro bono work, including restitution of looted assets from World War II, documenting family histories and cultures of remote tribes, and of course helping to reunite adopted individuals with their biological families.
A quick Google search for MyHeritage will reveal some truly heart-warming stories of families being reunited thanks to this company’s platform.
On a personal note, I have been following this company for years and have several friends who work there.
If any company illustrates the concept of “Doing well by doing good,’’ it is MyHeritage. The company has achieved incredible success and has done so by making millions of people’s lives more meaningful by connecting them with their deep roots.