02 February 2010

MyHeritage acquires major European family network

MyHeritage.com announced today that it had acquired a major European family network, OSN (Verwandt.de).

Users of both sites will benefit from the companies' combined technologies and make it easier for families to keep in touch as they bridge gaps of geography, language and time.

According to the press release, MyHeritage now becomes the largest international site dedicated to families on the web. The acquisition means the company now has 13 million family trees, 47 million members and 530 million profiles, and operates in 35 languages.

Based in Hamburg, Germany, the OSN Group operates a network of 10 family sites, including Verwandt.de (Germany), Moikrewni.pl (Poland) and Dynastree.com (USA).

MyHeritage founder and CEO Gilad Japhet (photo right) said this integration of services into a single international platform is a big step towards the company's vision of connecting families around the world, and to support them in exploring family history, sharing memories and staying connected.

With this acquisition, the company builds on its markets in the US, UK, Canada, France and Australia, making inroads into European (Germany, Poland, the Netherlands) and Latin American markets.

The term "family graph" is used in the press release, referring to the millions of family trees and genealogical profiles:

"The increased scale of this privacy-enforced family graph provides instant value to families, making it even easier for them to find long-lost relatives and discover more about their unique family histories. This will help, for example, more North American members connect with their European relatives and ancestors."
While Facebook offers a social connection graph and LinkedIn offers a graph of professional connections graph, MyHeritage is building a family graph, past and present.

“By extending the scale and geographic reach of its family graph and offering a private place online for families across the world to securely share photos, important events and explore our family history, MyHeritage.com's service has the potential to become part of the fabric of our online lives.”

To help members manage online family connections, various tools and technologies are available, such as free downloadable genealogy software, Smart Matching™ technology that connects family trees across different languages, pronunciations and spellings; and advanced facial recognition technology to tag family photos.

New OSN technologies will be integrated into MyHeritage.com, beginning with the Family Crest Builder. This feature is fun. Even if your family doesn't have a crest handed down through the centuries, members can now create their own unique crest (and even use it as background on their trees. There are myriad graphic heraldry symbols, shield shapes, colors, banners and other plug-in elements to form the crest.

On February 1, the site also released a new version of the web tree viewer for easier navigation and better visual graphics.

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