LONDON (Reuters) – Online family network MyHeritage announced $15 million in venture capital funding from Index Ventures, an investor in Skype, and Accel Partners, an investor in Facebook.
MyHeritage.com is a fast-growing network based in Israel that helps its 25 million members find relatives, research family history and share family photos in 25 languages. Its genealogy services compete with Geni.com and Ancestry.com.
“Facebook has done an amazing job for how people manage their social life, LinkedIn has done an amazing job for how people manage their professional life,” said Index partner Saul Klein, who will join the board of MyHeritage.
“What we saw in MyHeritage was the potential to build a network for family.”
Both Facebook, the world’s most popular online social network, and LinkedIn are privately owned. Microsoft (MSFT.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) bought a 1.6 percent stake in Facebook in 2007 for $240 million.
MyHeritage aims to make revenues from e-commerce — based on its database of birthdays and anniversaries coupled with knowledge of how people are related — and advertising, as well as partnerships.
The money from Index and Accel will be used for growth and to start a London operation, said Chief Executive and founder Gilad Japhet.
Meanwhile, MyHeritage will continue to focus on expanding its network from the 260 million profiles it currently has of members and their relatives. “We are hoping to reach quickly between half a billion and 1 billion records,” he said.
“Today, we have about a 20 percent success rate in matching any record with another,” he said.
“Once we get to half a billion, we’ll be able to match any family that is adding itself to the other families.”
MyHeritage also announced a new photo-tagging service that uses face-recognition technology to group similar faces, meaning they can all be labeled together rather than one at a time.
The service can import photos from Yahoo’s (YHOO.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) Flickr, Google’s (GOOG.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) Picasa and Facebook, among other photo-sharing sites, and export the tags back to those sites.
(Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by Andy Bruce)