There is a common misconception that MyHeritage is owned by Ancestry. These two rivals are not connected, and MyHeritage is an independent company. So, who actually owns MyHeritage?
This article will give the short answer, and also explores the major investors and influencers in MyHeritage.
Who Owns MyHeritage?
MyHeritage was purchased in 2021 by U.S. tech investment firm Francisco Partners. Gilad Japhet founded MyHeritage in Israel in 2003 and raised early investment through five fund-raising rounds. Some investors, including Japhet, reinvested in the company after the buyout.
MyHeritage continues to operate as a private company. Gilad Japhet remains on the Board of Directors and is joined by senior partners from Francisco. Some early investors continue as members of the Board, including:
- German investment group P Beteiligungs
- Yuval Rakavy of BRM Capital
- Private investor Gigi Levy
About Francisco Partners, Owners Of MyHeritage
Francisco Partners was founded in San Francisco in 1999 as a private equity firm. They focus on buying technology companies with growth potential.
Francisco Partners first entered the burgeoning Israeli tech sector in 2016. They appointed Evan Gorev, the former Alvarion CEO, as their senior Israeli partner. Gorev has since joined the MyHeritage Board of Directors.
In 2019, they raised approximately $10 billion across three funds to fuel their portfolio. As of 2021, they have over $25 billion in assets under management.
Although the company has several investments in health technology, they don’t have anything that I consider to be directly comparable to MyHeritage. However, they invested in several online educational platforms in 2021, which have the kind of customer-facing presence as the genealogy firm.
Interestingly, two massive investment groups took a minority passive stake in Francisco Partners in 2018. Goldman Sachs was one of the investors, and Blackstone was the other. Yes, the same Blackstone who purchased Ancestry in 2020. But it’s a tangential connection!
Early investors in MyHeritage
Let’s take a look at the investment history of MyHeritage before the buy-out by Francisco Partners.
Founder Gilad Japhet initially found it difficult to raise investment in his new genealogy company. The problem was the timing. Japhet was looking for funding after the crash of the dot com bubble.
According to TechCrunch, MyHeritage raised about $9 million in funding back in 2005.
Half the funds came from Accel, an American venture capital firm that specializes in early start-up companies. In that same year, Accel invested in Facebook at its early Series A stage.
The other half was contributed by two Israeli angel investors, Yuval Rakavy and Aviv Raiz. Rakavy has a well-earned reputation as a technology guru. Aviv Raiz joined the MyHeritage board of directors.
Another investment round
Accel was part of another investment round in 2008. They were joined by Index Ventures, a London-based investment firm. Index Ventures were one of the original investors in Skype.
MyHeritage reported that the two companies brought about $15 million to the table.
A partner from each company also took a seat on the MyHeritage board of directors.
Major events in 2012
In 2012, MyHeritage raised $25 million. The investment company Bessmer Venture Partners, led this funding round. Their partner Adam Fisher also joined the board of directors.
But that wasn’t all that happened in 2012. MyHeritage purchased one of its major competitors, Geni.com. You can find a few details in this article section on who owns Geni.com.
David Sacks, the founder of Geni, took a seat on the MyHeritage board of directors.
Gilad Japhet, Founder Of MyHeritage
Let’s take a quick look at the founder’s history. How and why did MyHeritage get started?
Gilad Japhet studied computer science in his native Israel before heading off to work in Silicon Valley. He had discovered a deep interest in genealogy in his teenage years and continued to work on his family tree.
But Japhet was disappointed with the available genealogy software. So like a true techie, he wrote his own. This was software to run on a desktop computer. Then Japhet decided to make the software available to download from the internet.
He founded his genealogy company in 2002. It was actually called Inbaltech, which was a play on the name of his daughter. He would later change the company name and brand to MyHeritage.
Will MyHeritage Go Public?
In 2021, 23andMe merged with Richard Branson’s acquisition company to go public without a traditional IPO. Ancestry has previously listed on the NASDAQ in 2009, before going back into private ownership.
The acquisition of MyHeritage has ensured an exit and handsome payout for many of the company’s early investors. However, MyHeritage is still operating as a private limited company. There is no indication that going public is in their future plans.
Here’s a few pointers that might be relevant.
When Gilad Japhet was in Silicon Valley, he was working as head of product development with a company called BackWeb Technologies. Japhet was a key part of the team that took this company public on the NASDAQ. So, he’s got some experience!
However, Japhet gave an interview to a Jerusalem newspaper after the buyout by Francisco Partners. In this quote, he’s referring to 23andMe when me metions a SPAC. That is how the 23andMe went public.
MyHeritage is my life’s work, and I didn’t want to take it public with a SPAC [special purpose acquisition company], like everyone else is doing now, or sell it to a competitor that might take it apart.Gilad Japhet, interview with The Jerusalem Post 2021
So, does this mean that MyHeritage will never go public? Well, there’s another comment in that interview which is notable. I’ve bolded the part that jumped out at me.
Among the conditions I had for selling were that I would continue to run the company, and that we would continue growing, reward our employees and shareholders, and aim for another exit further down the road.Gilad Japhet, interview with The Jerusalem Post 2021
So, the MyHeritage corporate journey is still ongoing.
Where Is MyHeritage Located?
The headquarters of MyHeritage is in Or Yehuda, a city in the district of Tel Aviv, Israel. MyHeritage also has offices in countries including the US, UK, and Ukraine.
The company was founded by an Israeli software engineer, Gilad Japhet. Like so many startups, it first operated out of his family home in a village near Tel Aviv. As the company took on employees, Japhet ran it from a farmhouse in the village.
I’ve already mentioned that 2012 was a big year for the company. They raised $25 million in investment and also purchased Geni.com. And another important event happened!
The company moved from the village farmhouse to offices in a district of Tel Aviv. If you want to see some pictures, check out their blog.
Where Is The MyHeritage DNA Lab?
Although the global headquarters of MyHeritage is in Israel, it does not process DNA tests in its home country.
MyHeritage uses Gene By Gene’s DNA laboratory in Houston, Texas to process DNA tests.
If you’re not familiar with Gene By Gene, they are the company that owns Family Tree DNA. So the same outfit processes the DNA kits of two competing companies.
That doesn’t mean that you would get the same results if you tested with both MyHeritage and Family Tree DNA. The two genealogy companies use different algorithms to process the results.
Does Ancestry own MyHeritage?
If you’ve read this far, then you already know the answer. But this question crops up on genealogy forums. This may be because Ancestry has a history of buying other genealogy companies. You can see their acquisitions in an Ancestry corporate timeline here.
MyHeritage is not owned by Ancestry. MyHeritage is an independent private company headquartered in Israel.
MyHeritage does have a relationship with FamilySearch, another giant genealogy organization. There is an integration agreement between these two services. Record and family tree searches on MyHeritage can use FamilySearch as a source.
Ownership Of Other DNA Companies
GEDmatch accepts DNA results from these other testing companies, and we’ve got an article on who owns GEDmatch.