I spoke today at the Salt Lake Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists. The meeting was held in the Family History Center. I started by asking how many wanted me to talk about the history of Ancestry.com, (after all, these people spend all their time researching the past) and how many wanted me to talk about our vision for the future of genealogy at World Vital Records.
FamilyLink.com, the social network for genealogists, is testing our new family tree software with GEDCOM upload functionality. The site and the tree are still in beta, but the feedback we are getting is encouraging. FamilyLink members are now uploading their trees and sharing them with others. Just yesterday we had 39,000 ancestor names uploaded. Geni.com got 5 million profiles in 5 months. At 39,000 in one day, we are running at the same pace.
I saw history in the making today. For some reason, I was lucky enough to be in San Francisco for the Facebook f8 Platform launch event. This announcement was at least an 8.0 on the Richter scale. It was a whopper.
If you search for "family link" or "familylink" on Google, the first hit is not www.familylink.com. Today, on the query "familylink", hits #5, 7, 8, 9, and 10 all refer to FamilyLink.com, but they are from blogs and press releases. Google is not yet ranking FamilyLink.com as the most relevant result for these queries.
I have been in NY and Chicago this week, and haven't found the time to blog about this yet, but our wonderful sleepless team at World Vital Records has quietly opened up FamilyLink.com to the public. We are hoping for a few thousand early users, experienced genealogists primarily, to set up personal profiles, tell us what cities they do research in (and where they live), create some ancestor pages, and most of all, give us lots of feedback about the site features and design.
Normally I get my news for Live Friday from 100+ RSS feeds, but this week I found that a deep dive into Business 2.0 (my favorite internet publication--it took the place of Industry Standard which went away years ago) gave us much more interesting topics that the kinds of PR and brand new announcements that hit the blogosphere. Business 2.0 tends to cover companies that are getting real traction, so you can avoid wasting time on all the hype that is out there. I think I'll use Business 2.0 a lot more in the future when planning Provo Labs Academy events.
For many years I have wanted Ancestry.com to go international, since the world population is more than 20 times larger than the U.S. population. I felt that a Rootsweb-type model could be done in virtually every country of the world, followed at sime time, by an Ancestry-type subscription model. The one (a user generated content model) would lead to the other (a premium database model.) Note: I left the company in February 2002 and have no inside information about the company or its plans.
The Salt Lake Tribune published this interesting article two days ago:
Utah-based Ancestry.com, with 900,000 subscribers the reigning king of commercial Internet genealogy services, welcomes Geni.com and a spate of other online family history newcomers to its world. "For years, we were the only ones driving growth in this category," said Tim Sullivan, CEO of Generations, which owns Ancestry.com, MyFamily.com and related sites. "So when we see Geni or any number of new genealogy upstarts, we're thrilled," Sullivan said.
World Vital Records most popular international search page is our German Genealogy Search page. According to Overture, there were 1045 searches on the Yahoo Network last month for "german genealogy" and 292 for "germany genealogy."