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  • 25 Feb 2021 10:32 PM | Anonymous

    I mentioned the unofficial word in yesterday's newsletter. Now here is the official press release:

    TEL AVIV, Israel & LEHI, Utah & SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.--MyHeritage, the leading global service for discovering your past and empowering your future, announced today that Francisco Partners, a leading global investment firm that specializes in partnering with technology businesses, has signed a definitive agreement to acquire the company. The financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

    Since 2003, MyHeritage has pioneered a new approach to discovering family history, making it easier and more accessible to millions of people around the world. Founder-led and fueled by a deep-seated passion for genealogy and a commitment to innovation, MyHeritage has built a successful, subscription-based global enterprise. Powered by unique and proprietary technologies, the MyHeritage platform is currently used by 62 million users worldwide and is available in 42 languages, which is a testament to the company's international reach and diverse user base. MyHeritage users have collectively created more than 58 million family trees.

    Making History

    MyHeritage has invested heavily in developing technologies designed to help users make breakthrough discoveries in their family history research. The company amassed an extensive database of 13 billion historical records, including exclusive collections from many countries. The platform's many features include world-class tools for colorizing and enhancing historical photos that are based on artificial intelligence.

    “When I founded the company from my home eighteen years ago, I had a clear vision that drove me, and continues to drive me today – to make family history discovery easier using technology and to unlock the fun in genealogy: the human pursuit that bonds people,” said Gilad Japhet, Founder and CEO of MyHeritage. “With the help of an excellent and dedicated team, years of hard work, and with constant technological innovation, we created new and exciting ways for people to learn about their origins. In Francisco Partners we see a true partner for our journey ahead, not only demonstrated by the trust they are placing in our company through this acquisition, but in their desire for us to remain true to our vision by continuing along our path and helping us do what we do best – putting our users first and giving them life-enriching, and sometimes life-changing, experiences. This move will enable us to reach new heights, invest more resources in creating greater value for our users and to reach a larger audience. We’re incredibly excited for this next chapter in our company’s evolution.”

    “By leveraging our operational expertise, market resources and strong industry networks, we believe Francisco Partners is uniquely positioned to help MyHeritage accelerate its vision for growth. We are deeply impressed by the incredible achievements and relentless determination of Gilad, a visionary leader in genealogy who has grown the company from a start-up to a profitable global market leader,” said Eran Gorev, Francisco Partners‘ President of Israel & Senior Operating Partner, who will join the MyHeritage board of directors upon the closing of the transaction. “We are looking forward to partnering with Gilad and the entire MyHeritage team to help drive market expansion for the company.”

    “With its unmatched presence across Europe combined with its development of unique, cutting-edge technologies, MyHeritage is an ideal investment for Francisco Partners. The company has proven itself to be an innovation powerhouse through its robust subscription business, unique positioning, advanced technology portfolio, and international focus that has enabled it to build a superior user experience,” said Matt Spetzler, Co-Head of Europe and Partner at Francisco Partners, who will also join the MyHeritage board upon closing. “Francisco Partners shares MyHeritage’s vision for growth as well as its intense commitment to ensuring the privacy of its users. The users’ personal data is an extremely important priority and we will work together with MyHeritage to expand its already strong privacy framework going forward.”

    Since its inception, MyHeritage has raised $49 million in 5 rounds of financing, the last of which took place in 2012, after which the company turned profitable. The company’s investors have included private investors Yuval Rakavy and Aviv Raiz, who invested in the company in 2005 and have continued to support it ever since, as well as Accel, Index Ventures and Bessemer Venture Partners. With their support, the company accelerated its growth and completed 11 strategic acquisitions.

    Some of the company's current investors will be re-investing into the company alongside Francisco Partners, including HP Beteiligungs GmbH, Yuval Rakavy, the company's founder and CEO Gilad Japhet, and independent investor Gigi Levy.

    Doing Good

    MyHeritage is a company that not only believes in doing well, but also in doing good, and seeks opportunities to use its tools and services to leave a profound positive impact on the world. Its pro bono initiatives include DNA Quest, a program that helps adoptees reunite with their biological families by providing thousands of free DNA tests to select applicants, and Tribal Quest, an initiative that helps to document the family histories and cultural heritage of remote tribes around the world. In addition, with the onset of the coronavirus in 2020, MyHeritage established a COVID-19 testing lab in Israel in an effort to save lives and help Israel fight the pandemic.

    Committing to Lead in Privacy

    MyHeritage takes a best-in-class approach to user privacy and does not sell or license personal data. Under MyHeritage’s partnership with Francisco Partners, this commitment will be further strengthened and users will benefit from enhancements to the company’s privacy framework. As a first step in this strategy, MyHeritage will shortly update its privacy policy to include the unequivocal prohibition for the company to license or sell genetic data to any 3rd party. These updates will be highly unique amongst the larger genealogy and genetic DNA industry and are a testament to the commitment both MyHeritage and Francisco Partners share to privacy and consumers.

    Goldfarb Seligman acted as legal advisor and J.P. Morgan acted as exclusive financial advisor to MyHeritage on the transaction. Meitar and Fried Frank advised Francisco Partners. The transaction is subject to customary regulatory review.

    About MyHeritage

    MyHeritage is the leading global discovery platform for exploring family history. With billions of historical records and family tree profiles, and with sophisticated matching technologies that work across all its assets, MyHeritage allows users to discover their past and empower their future. MyHeritage DNA is one of the world’s largest consumer DNA databases, with 4.8 million customers. MyHeritage is the most popular DNA test and family history service in Europe. Since 2020, MyHeritage has also been home to some of the world’s best AI technologies for enhancing and colorizing historical photos. www.myheritage.com

    About Francisco Partners

    Francisco Partners is a leading global investment firm that specializes in partnering with technology and technology-enabled businesses. Since its launch over 20 years ago, Francisco Partners has invested in more than 300 technology companies, making it one of the most active and longstanding investors in the technology industry. With more than $25 billion in assets under management, the firm invests in opportunities where its deep sectoral knowledge and operational expertise can help companies realize their full potential. For more information on Francisco Partners, please visit www.franciscopartners.com


  • 25 Feb 2021 10:19 PM | Anonymous

    A major new announcement was made at RootsTech Connect 2021 today. Here is the announcement:

      

     

    ROOTSTECH CONNECT 2021 NEWS

    VIVID-PIX BRINGS FAMILY HISTORY HOME
    AT ROOTSTECH CONNECT 2021
    WITH FREE EDUCATION & RESEARCH
     
    New Family History Series for Families, Family Historians & Librarians
     
    Vivid-Pix Partners with achi & Tellegacy to Provide Research
    to Assist Older Adults, Families, & Health Providers
     

    February 25, 2021, Salt Lake City, UT – Vivid-Pix www.vivid-pix.com, the leading provider of AI-powered image restoration software, announced today at RootsTech Connect, the world’s largest family history event, Vivid-Pix Education for family “Chief Memory Officers” (those who enjoy taking pictures and sharing family stories), family historians, and librarians. In addition, Vivid-Pix announced today that it is partnering with achi and Tellegacy to provide academic and business research to help older adults and families and assist health providers. 

    Family History/Genealogy is 2nd Most Popular Hobby in the U.S. 

    As published by Time, USA Today, and the NY Times, family history/genealogy is the second most popular hobby in America, especially for those over the age of 55. Integrating photos is an important component of this hobby, with photo popularity continuing to grow in the U.S. for all age groups. “Photo ubiquity is illustrated by how we communicate today in social media – a picture says a thousand words. Most online conversations revolve around photos – whether viewing last night’s dinner or yesteryear’s photos where we see older adults as children. Photos connect us across languages and other differences,” said Vivid-Pix CEO, Rick Voight.   

    Vivid-Pix Creates Education for Families, Family Historians, and Librarians 

    Have you ever wanted to tell your story and your family story? To harness photography’s impact on family history, Vivid-Pix has launched new education for families and family historians. In this six-part series, author / storyteller and genealogist Laura Hedgecock teaches us how to share stories in bite-sized videos, starting with the class Witness to History: Now and Then. Classes are available at: https://www.vivid-pix.com/education.html.

    Vivid-Pix is also providing education for librarians. The American Library Association (ALA) estimates that there are 116,867 libraries in the United States. Very few universities offer a genealogy course path for librarians pursuing a Master of Library Science. Working with experts in the field, Vivid-Pix has created a twelve-part Genealogy Librarian Education Series at:  https://www.vivid-pix.com/librarian with classes and special panel discussions, including:

    ·        Introduction to Genealogical Research and the Role of the Genealogy Librarian”: taught by Drew Smith, MA LIS, USF Libraries.

    ·        The Genealogical Reference Interview, Orientation to Library Resources & Services: taught by Sue Kaufman, MLIS, Sr. Manager, Houston Public Library – Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research.

    ·        Working with Local Genealogical and Historical Societies”: panel discussion hosted by Cherie Bush, Deputy Chief Genealogical Officer for FamilySearch Intl.

    ·        Marketing the Genealogy Library: panel discussion hosted by Allison DePrey Singleton, MA, MLS, Sr. Librarian, Genealogy Center, Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, Indiana.  

    The CDC estimates that 20% of people age 55 years or older experience some type of mental health concern. The most common conditions include anxiety, severe cognitive impairment, and mood disorders (such as depression or bipolar disorder) - see:  https://www.cdc.gov/aging/pdf/mental_health.pdf .Research has shown that loneliness and social isolation can result in long-term negative health outcomes. Studies also illustrate the health benefits of using photos to reduce loneliness, stress, and anxiety, as well as the recollective benefits for those that suffer from early-onset of dementia, dementia, and Alzheimer’s.

    achi, Tellegacy & Vivid-Pix (ATV) Launch Academic and Business Research to Assist Aging Population 

    Vivid-Pix is also announcing ATV, a partnership with achi and Tellegacy to study and improve older adult population health. Dr. Jeremy Holloway, Assistant Professor and Director of Geriatrics Education at University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences, will lead the primary research utilizing student caregiver/senior engagement. Rick Voight, MBA, CEO, Vivid-Pix, will lead the effort on business research and Hayley Studer, CPA, FHFMA, will lead financial modeling to study how to reduce cost and improve older adult health. The inter-generational Tellegacy program helps keep older adults connected. ATV activities will integrate photos into loneliness, isolation, and reminiscence therapy research. Read research info at: “Photo Reminiscing Can Reduce Stress & Depression During Coronavirus

    Vivid-Pix at RootsTech Connect and Beyond 

    Vivid-Pix is a bronze sponsor and exhibitor of RootsTech Connect, which is being held virtually from Feb. 25-27, 2021. In addition to RootsTech Connect, Vivid-Pix is also the title sponsor of NGS Conference’s SLAM (Societies, Libraries, Archives, Museums) and Focus on Societies (genealogical societies, historical societies, and family organizations), two pillars of the five-day National Genealogical Society (NGS) virtual conference, held May 17-21, 2021. NGS and RootsTech Connect are the backbone of the genealogy community and an important source of information and knowledge for budding family historians and experts alike.  

    Vivid-Pix also recently announced the acquisition of Reunions magazine, a leading publication for reunion planning and celebration for the past 30 years. This resource provides family, class, and military reunions ideas, features, and education to connect in person and online. For more information on Vivid-Pix, see the website: www.vivid-pix.com

    About Tellegacy 

    Tellegacy is an intergenerational program created to combat loneliness and social isolation among older adults, keeping them connected and engaged through weekly phone or virtual visits with university students. As research shows, loneliness and social isolation can result in long-term negative health outcomes. Tellegacy founder, Jeremy Holloway, PhD, is determined to change that narrative with his flexible, relationship-oriented, mindfulness, goal-setting and guided imagery curriculum. In partnership with Hayley Studer, founder of achi, a holistic care management company that lowers overall expenses by actively engaging people and connecting them to organizations to address the social determinants of health, the infrastructure for which Tellegacy was built. To learn more about the Tellegacy program and how it can save lives, visit www.achi.solutions/tellegacy.
     

  • 25 Feb 2021 10:12 PM | Anonymous

    This is something you need to see in order to appreciate it. I don't have enough words to properly describe it but watching a video will provide all the basic information within seconds.

    In short, You should see a new feature that converts still photographs into Deep Nostalgia™, a groundbreaking new photo feature on MyHeritage that allows you to animate the faces of your loved ones in still photos. This new addition to MyHeritage's suite of photo tools produces a realistic depiction of how a person from an old photo could have moved and looked if they were captured on video.

    You can see examples of this new technology in the MyHeritage Blog at: https://blog.myheritage.com/2021/02/new-animate-the-faces-in-your-family-photos/.

    Convinced? To animate your own photos that haven’t been uploaded to MyHeritage yet, you can upload and animate them at myheritage.com/deep-nostalgia.


  • 25 Feb 2021 9:55 PM | Anonymous

    GEDCOM 7.0 is being announced this week at the RootsTech virtual conference. If you did not attend the virtual conference, you can still read all about release candidate 1 (7.0.0-rc1) at https://gedcom.io/specifications/GEDCOM7rc.html.

    GEDCOM 7 includes some important changes, but perhaps most important of all, GEDCOM-related activity was dormant at FamilySearch for a long, long time but now it is active again. That is great news for the genealogy community.


  • 24 Feb 2021 3:31 PM | Anonymous

    TechCrunch is a website that often publishes news stories about online services. Today, TechCrunch published the following:

    "Genealogy tracking online is a big business, and today comes some M&A [Merger & Acquisition] news for one of the bigger names in the field. TechCrunch has learned and confirmed that Israel’s MyHeritage.com — a profitable site that lets people test DNA and track their family lineage and has some 62 million users — is getting acquired by Francisco Partners, for a price that a source close to the deal tells us is $600 million.

    "A spokesperson for MyHeritage confirmed the deal to TechCrunch over the phone but not the price. Francisco Partners has not responded to our request for comment but we’ll update this post as we learn more.

    "From what we understand the deal will be announced officially very soon. Update: we [TechCrunch] now have received a press release, so I guess that makes it 'official.'"

    The article goes on to to detail the rise and profitability of MyHeritage.com at some length. TechCrunch also states, "In addition to its 62 million active users of its site — which is available in 42 languages — it also has a database of some 13 billion historical records. Users have built and expanded on some 58 million family trees on its platform. It’s also run nearly 5 million DNA tests for its users.

    Finally, the article states:

    "'By leveraging our operational expertise, market resources and strong industry networks, we believe Francisco Partners is uniquely positioned to help MyHeritage accelerate its vision for growth. We are deeply impressed by the incredible achievements and relentless determination of Gilad, a visionary leader in genealogy who has grown the company from a start-up to a profitable global market leader,' said Eran Gorev, Francisco Partners‘ President of Israel & Senior Operating Partner, in a statement. 'We are looking forward to partnering with Gilad and the entire MyHeritage team to help drive market expansion for the company.'

    "Gorev is joining the board along with Francisco’s Europe head Matt Spetzler with this deal.

    “'Francisco Partners shares MyHeritage’s vision for growth as well as its intense commitment to ensuring the privacy of its users. The users’ personal data is an extremely important priority and we will work together with MyHeritage to expand its already strong privacy framework going forward,' said Spetzler."

    You can read the full TechCrunch article at: https://techcrunch.com/2021/02/24/francisco-partners-is-acquiring-myheritage-sources-say-for-600m/

    Comment by Dick Eastman:

    This newsletter has been sponsored by MyHeritage for the past several years and I have learned to respect the business methods of MyHeritage. I have been very impressed with the fact that the company CEO, Gilad Japhet, became a serious genealogist when he was a teenager, unlike the CEOs of most other genealogy-related companies. That fact shows in his business philosophies and actions.

    I had no "inside information" about an acquisition but must say that I am not surprised. I have always assumed that most web-based businesses in the genealogy world have always had a business plan that states something similar to: "Either become wildly profitable and become acquired by someone else or else remain unprofitable and hope that someone else will purchase whatever is left of the company."

    It looks like MyHeritage has successfully achieved the first part of that plan: becoming very profitable.


  • 24 Feb 2021 10:17 AM | Anonymous

    It is rare that any legislative body proposes to REDUCE the embargo periods for public domain records. However, a proposed bill in the state of Georgia may do exactly that.

    The following is an announcement from the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS)) Public Records Access Monitoring Committee mailing list:

    There is a bill currently in the Georgia House, HB 92, that proposes to lower the embargo periods for birth records to 100 years and death, marriage, divorce and annulment dates for vital records to 75 years respectively. The records would then be transferred to the State Archives from the State Registrar. The bill may be read at: https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/58923.

    Currently, the embargo periods are 125 years for birth records and 100 years from date of death, application for marriage, divorce, or annulment.

    Jan Meisels Allen
    Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

  • 24 Feb 2021 9:55 AM | Anonymous

    Tennessee State Librarian and Archivist Chuck Sherill recently stated that the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new State Library and Archives Building for the facility in Nashville will take place April 12.

    Work began in 2005 on the $123.8 million project and a groundbreaking took place in late 2017. The new building is located just outside downtown on the Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park.


  • 24 Feb 2021 9:39 AM | Anonymous

    The Clallam County Genealogical Society’s Research Center at 403 E. Eighth St., Port Angeles, Washington, will open for limited use — by both members and the public — beginning Tuesday, March 2.

    The center will be open from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Tuesday through Friday.

    A limited number of individuals will be allowed in the center per COVID-19 rules; masks, physical separation, hand sanitizer and wipe-down of desks and computer terminals between users are required.

    Call the center first to make sure space is available, at 360-417-5000.

    The Clallam County Genealogical Society’s web site may be found at: https://clallamcogs.org/

  • 23 Feb 2021 1:03 PM | Anonymous

    Constructed in 1790, Evergreen remains one of the most intact plantation sites in the South. The grounds include 37 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), including 22 slave cabins. It’s among a handful of remaining plantation homes interspersed along River Road in southeast Louisiana.

    While Evergreen Plantation has been open to tour groups since 1997, the site was already steering its efforts to focus on education and research. This was before the pandemic slowed the usual flow of visitors to the historic site.

    “It’s the difference between a tourism site and a museum. I felt strongly that it was important to remember the lives of real people and pay tribute to them in a way that doesn’t exploit them again,” Shannon said.

    A picture of Victorine, a privately owned domestic slave of Lezin Becnel and his wife Josephine. It is likely that her mother Maria was Josephine’s personal slave, attending to her needs, helping her dress and bathe, and cleaning the house. Victorine was baptized at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church on May 31, 1835, when she was nine months old. The identity of Victorine’s father remains unknown, but as she was described as a mulatresse, half African and half European, her father must have been white.

    In addition to the Ancestor Project, Evergreen also established a free online database with information about the lives of more than 400 enslaved individuals who lived and worked at the plantation. While the Ancestor Project is more personal, the digital database is an online tool tailored to teachers, students, genealogists, and visitors. The database launched just as the first COVID-19 cases were confirmed in the New Orleans-area last March.

    You can learn more, a lot more, in an article by Maria Clark, published in the Tennessean website at: http://bit.ly/3urzmDt.

    The Evergreen Plantation website, including a Slavery Database, may be found at https://www.evergreenplantation.org/.


  • 23 Feb 2021 12:31 PM | Anonymous

    The searchable database of cemetery records in eastern Massachusetts will include one million names by end of 2021. Here is the announcement:

    February 23, 2021—Boston, Massachusetts—Researchers can now search hundreds of thousands of records containing detailed information about people buried in eastern Massachusetts Catholic cemeteries through a new online database, thanks to a partnership between American Ancestors/New England Historic Genealogical Society, the Archive Department of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston (RCAB), and The Catholic Cemetery Association of the Archdiocese of Boston, Inc. (CCA). The Catholic Cemetery database—which will include an estimated one million names by December 2021—is available with a member subscription on AmericanAncestors.org.

    The database—which spans the years 1833 through 1940—contains records of burials from 20 cemeteries throughout eastern Massachusetts. Family members of the deceased, family historians and researchers can now easily locate and view detailed information about lot sales and interments, including burial dates and locations, and names of lot owners. Since many of the deceased may not have purchased a grave marker or their marker may have eroded with time, this collection is of essential value for anyone researching deceased people buried in eastern Massachusetts. Digitization of this information is not only a boon for researchers, it also helps to preserve the original, and often fragile, paper-based records kept by the Archdiocese.

    The Catholic Cemetery Association database currently features information from nine cemeteries: Holy Cross (Malden), Calvary (Waltham), Sacred Heart (Andover), St. George (Framingham), St. James (Haverhill), St. Joseph (Haverhill), St. Jean Baptiste (Lynn), St. Mary (Beverly), and St. Mary (Malden). Records for eleven more cemeteries will be added throughout 2021.

    In addition to the searchable database, American Ancestors and its partners are providing maps of each cemetery to help researchers locate burial plots. Where possible, maps include sections, ranges and—in some cases—narrative description of how headstones are arranged by row and lot number. Also included are points of interest such as entrances, exits, flag poles, monuments, offices and spigots. Special sections for burials of infants, priests and members of religious orders are also noted. Links to the cemetery maps can be found in the database description. Additional maps will be added throughout 2021.

    “American Ancestors is proud to offer this new cemetery records database alongside our current project with the Archdiocese – the digitization of sacramental records from 1789 to 1920,” said D. Brenton Simons, President and CEO of American Ancestors/New England Historic Genealogical Society. “After the positive feedback we received for our sacramental records collection, this was the next logical step, and we are grateful to the CCA for agreeing to make these records available through our website, AmericanAncestors.org.”

    Thomas Lester, Director of the Archive and Library at the Archdiocese of Boston commented, “American Ancestors has been a valued partner in helping the Archdiocese make these records available to a wider audience than ever before. We hope that the ability to find a record and use the maps to locate the final resting place of family members, whether they be long-deceased ancestors or a close relation, will bring peace and comfort to many.”

    “We look forward to continuing our focus on the management of the original records and maintaining our cemetery grounds throughout the archdiocese, making sure they are a place where visitors can peacefully pray, mourn and reflect upon the lives of the deceased,” remarked Rob Visconti, Executive Director of the CCA.

    According to Molly Rogers, Database Manager for Digital Projects for American Ancestors, the project is expected to be completed by the end of 2021, and when finished will include all of the CCA records through 1940 and maps of each cemetery.

    Future releases include records from: St. Francis de Sales (Charlestown), St. Paul (Arlington), North Cambridge Catholic (Cambridge), St. Joseph (Lynn), St. Mary (Lynn), Holy Cross (Malden) (additional volumes), Immaculate Conception (Marlborough), St. Mary (Salem), St. Patrick (Stoneham), Catholic Mount Auburn (Watertown), St. Patrick (Watertown), and Calvary (Winchester).

    The Catholic records databases, including the cemetery and sacramental records collections, are made possible through the work of American Ancestors volunteers and philanthropic support. In 2017, American Ancestors launched the Historic Catholic Records Fund to support the project.

    About American Ancestors and New England Historic Genealogical Society

    American Ancestors, also known as New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS), with its national headquarters located in Boston’s Back Bay, is the oldest and largest genealogical society in America. It serves more than 300,000 members and millions of online users engaged in family history nationally and around the world. It is home to a world-class research library and archive, and an expert staff. American Ancestors offers an award-winning genealogical research website at AmericanAncestors.org with more than 1.4 billion names and maintains a publishing division which produces original genealogical research, scholarship, and educational materials, including Mayflower Descendant, a quarterly journal of Pilgrim genealogy and history.

    About the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston

    The Archdiocese of Boston is the fourth largest archdiocese in the United States and is the spiritual home for more than 1.8 million Catholics. Since July 2003, Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley, OFM Cap., has led the Archdiocese through unprecedented events with a focus on healing and rebuilding the local Church.

    Centered in one of the world’s great cities—Boston—and spread across 144 communities in eastern Massachusetts, the Archdiocese of Boston is an ethnically diverse and spiritually enriching faith community consisting of 260 parishes, well performing Catholic schools that are educating more than 30,000 students annually, and a social service outreach that is helping to assist more than 200,000 individuals each year. Mass is celebrated in more than twenty different languages each week.


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