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Geni: Addictive, Yes, BUT $100 Million Valuation?

Posted on Tuesday, Mar 6th 2007

George Zachary just invested $10 Million in Geni at a $100 Million valuation. Geni has already received a lot of coverage, so instead of reiterating its basics, let me just point you to a few: Venturebeat, NextNet, Techcrunch .

It’s certainly not first to market. Acc. to Venturebeat, “Geni is the latest in a long list of genealogy sites. One of the biggest is The Generations Network, which last week changed its name from That company owns and There are also,, and Some of these, like, have built impressive record databases. If you type in an ancestor, they’ll search census, birth, death and immigration records.”

I played with it a bit, and found it quite a time-sink, and very addictive. I would like to come back to it, especially because, we’ve had a lot of deaths in our family in the last 3 years. Capturing some family history, stories, family-tree information has certainly been on my mind.

I happen to come from a very old, and very large family in Calcutta, and frankly, as I took a first crack at filling out the Geni tree, I could not even recollect the names of a number of my family members. The most telling one was that I could not remember the name of a grand uncle who lived in the house I grew up in. I could remember what I called him by, but not his real name. The same was true for so many others from our clan.

It was quite scary!

Anyway, it’s a good service, and quite user-friendly. I have sent invites to a number of my cousins. We’ll see if they engage in collaborating on filling the gaps in our geni tree.


George, what’s the $100 Million dollar valuation all about?

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Hi Sramana,

It’s a company with global breakout potential that’s showing a clear ramp to getting there.

Back when Skype and Facebook were funded, people were surprised by the valuations in both companies. And we are seeing signs that Geni is on a similar ramp.

Thanks for the attention to me and Geni

George Zachary Tuesday, March 6, 2007 at 11:45 PM PT


Guess there is then a Freemium element, and they are going to charge for the photo / video storage beyond a certain initial threshold. Established business models in the photosharing world, I guess.

Sramana Mitra Tuesday, March 6, 2007 at 11:57 PM PT

i went and set up a tree on Geni when i heard about it but what i am wondering is when there are other similar websites out there what makes geni so special? its one things to start using skype to do your VOIP because Yahoo is not as good but another to move your family trees from other websites to Geni!!

Rahul Dighe Wednesday, March 7, 2007 at 1:41 PM PT

You raise a good question. Switching cost is high for all these kinds of services, which keeps me firmly entrenched in Kodakgallery for now. But I may not be typical, and people with a lot more time in their hands may switch much more easily than I.

Sramana Mitra Wednesday, March 7, 2007 at 5:01 PM PT

I think this is one of the apps you get very very excited about in the first 2-3 days of using it, but then fades out after a few weeks. The important thing for a social networking app is “stickiness”. I don’t think this will be sticky like myspace, facebook etc.

My thought on my blog

Arun Jacob Sunday, March 11, 2007 at 8:26 AM PT

So far, that’s been my experience too. I filed away the intention of sitting down with my parents during their next visit to fill the gaps in my own knowledge of my ancestors. But most certainly, I am not spending time on it right now, on a regular and continous basis.

Sramana Mitra Sunday, March 11, 2007 at 2:35 PM PT

Hi Sramana,

I started using Geni, about a month back and added my family of 5 to the plant.Today the tree has 149 people, from different parts of India and the US.People whom I did not even know, and are somehow related to me.Its can actually be quite fun,if you start interacting.
Geni does make communities,but rather limited.It needs to provide options for people to interact, share etc.To grow,it should provide community X options to collaborate with Y, with some common thread in between (common person).This is one important step, I think, Geni should take up.

Pawan Sahay Tuesday, March 13, 2007 at 7:21 PM PT


I have added 135 people myself so far. We are a large family, and it’s been fun asking around for the missing links, and I am sure, by the time we’re done, this is going to become 500+

I will report back on the rest of the experience as we go along, but it is not something I will be doing everyday. Just once in a while.


Sramana Mitra Tuesday, March 13, 2007 at 8:29 PM PT is such a great idea! I just did a blog post about over on Highbrid Nation if you want to check it out. I look forward to building my tree and maybe meeting some new family members along the way. I think the site has a great future.

Evorgleb Tuesday, March 13, 2007 at 11:55 PM PT

[…] Zachary of Charles River Ventures recently commented on the valuation of Geni […]

Thoughts on Geni’s Valuation of $100M Monday, March 19, 2007 at 12:54 AM PT

Hi Sramana,

Thanks for your reply.
You definitely have a good knowledge of your family.Adding 135 people by yourself is a difficult task, which must have involved pestering your folks for more information.
I agree with you that the enthusiasm to come back to Geni everyday is slowly diminishing. They must do something, and fast.
I am a great admirer of your thoughts on startegy, India and the web 2.0 revolution.

Pawan Sahay Tuesday, March 27, 2007 at 6:49 AM PT

Thanks, Pawan. I got lots of help from parents, cousins, aunts, … to get to 135. And that still doesn’t cover major chunks. By the time we’re done, the number would reach more like 500.

And thank you for reading and enjoying the blog. It takes so much work to keep it up, it’s nice to know that people enjoy it.

Sramana Mitra Tuesday, March 27, 2007 at 12:46 PM PT

I will be frank with you Sramana.

I come to office, open my outlook, check my emails,open google reader, click for your blog and go through all the news you have posted.What I enjoy is the analysis and views you provide for markets (which is btw quite varied), and which reflects your knowledge and interest in different topics.
Keep up the good work and knowledge sharing.

Pawan Sahay Thursday, April 12, 2007 at 6:06 AM PT

[…] the other hand, sites like Geni attempt to capture photosharing in the context of geneology, where family photos are the essence. […]

Sramana Mitra on Strategy » Blog Archive » Web 3.0 and Flickr Tuesday, May 22, 2007 at 7:31 AM PT

[…] the other hand, sites like Geni attempt to capture photosharing in the context of genealogy, where family photos are the essence. […]

Flickr: Strong On Content & Community, But Commerce Needs Work : Forecast-Blog Thursday, May 24, 2007 at 4:14 AM PT


my name is savita mitra and i was looking online was some information on my family history. My dad and his family come over from India to canada, where i live, when he was a kid so he hasn’t been much help but i do know my grandfather lived in Calcutta and still has a lot of family there, and also comes from an old family. i see from your blog that you are intrested in family history so i’m wondering if we are part of the same family. Feel free to email me, i’d be very intrested to know if you are,



Savita Mitra Monday, June 23, 2008 at 11:46 PM PT

I doubt it, Savita. Every other Bengali has a “Mitra” last name in Calcutta. I have a pretty good idea about where most of my family is.

Sramana Mitra Tuesday, June 24, 2008 at 9:04 AM PT