Geni allows you to build your family tree online. It is free and easy to use and was built to create “a family tree of the world.” Users in the tree are able to email others and invite them to join their tree. Family members are able to share information and photos and build the tree with details of their ancestors together with other members. Each member can store a profile which is visible only to other members of the same tree. The information is all kept private and not sold to third parties, so users do not receive any spam.
Geni was founded in the beginning of 2007 by David Sacks, CEO and Alan Braverman, CTO. Sacks was previously the co-founder of PayPal before it was acquired by eBay for $1.5 billion. He then produced the movie Thank You for Not Smoking which won critical acclaim. VentureVoice features his track record in detail in this article. The company is based in Los Angeles.
In March 2007, during a $10 million second round of financing from Charles River Ventures, geni was valued at $100 million. This 10x increase in valuation was when the company was just seven weeks old. Previously, the company had raised $1.5 million in its first round led by Founders Fund. I had questioned this valuation, but said that Geni was addictive at the time. Well, that was over a year back, and I had only started playing with the application. Since then, I don’t think I have gone back to it even once. I guess it wasn’t all that addictive!
Its main competitors are Ancestry, Genealogy, Myfamily and Onegreatfamily, all sites which provide similar services. Some charge a fee and also provide services like allowing users to search immigration, census and military records. In 2007, Geni won the ‘Webware 100 Winner’ by CNet because of its simple user interface. In an article in The New York Times Geni is described as a ‘Facebook for families’. By June 2008, Geni has added 20 million people to its family trees.
But like me, users don’t come back as often, and that makes its original hypothesis of an ad-supported business model questionable. Geni does have a reasonable traffic volume, however, and according to Quantcast, they get 189k users a month and 872k visits. It is disappointing, however, that $11.5 million amounted to a traffic volume of less than 200k users.
This year, there should be a lot of web 2.0 acquisitions and consolidation. Geni is likely to find a home in that process, albeit for a small exit amount. One company that is doing a web 2.0 roll-up, and may be a potential acquirer, is United Online.
This segment is a part in the series : Deal Radar 2008