It’s not often that childhood experiences demonstrate the value that a cutting-edge SaaS business can bring to its customers. But I clearly remember seeing my own family tree for the first time - meticulously hand-drawn by my grandmother on a large roll of paper. Painstaking research over many years led her to libraries, records offices and graveyards. Numerous speculative letters to researchers occasionally turned up results many months, or sometimes even years later.
Piecing together scraps of interlinking information to recreate and validate the connections between long-forgotten ancestors was arduous work with only occasional moments of excitement. But this dedication illustrates the depth of human desire we have to understand our personal family history.
Nowadays, thanks to MyHeritage, uncovering a similarly detailed family tree takes a fraction of the time. Founder Gilad Japhet and the team have built the world’s best toolkit for researching, recreating and preserving the connectedness amongst our families. Today’s platform synthesises connections from digitised records, accounting for similarities in surname (Smith, Smythe, Schmidt, Smit could all be distortions of the same word, for example). Putting that together with similar birth, death and marriage dates, as well as commonalities in our unique DNA profiles, enables the automated generation of hypotheses for potential relationships. Then, as more customers join the platform and further links are uncovered, each tree is deepened, refined and enriched. This is especially true as more recent technologies, such as colour restoration, bring old monochrome and blurry or faded photos back to life.
Born of a 1982 school project, Gilad’s excitement for family history led him to start MyHeritage in 2003. We were the first VC to back the company, at the Series B round in 2006. From that beginning, during our follow-on investments in each round and the company reaching profitability, it’s always been clear that Gilad’s unwavering passion was about so much more than just building a great business.
The whole company is driven by the core values of innovation, compassion and a desire to have a positive impact on the world. This was particularly evident when MyHeritage used its scientific knowledge and technological capabilities in the spring of last year to build and run Israel’s largest coronavirus test lab in a matter of weeks. This was nothing short of "commando speed”.
In his updates to the board, Gilad usually includes a summary of how the company has recently made the world a better place, often through pro bono projects. Assisting adoptees searching for their birth families through genetic testing. Or documenting and digitizing the family histories of people with limited written histories of their own. Many of these stories are deeply emotional.
Today’s acquisition of MyHeritage marks the end of a chapter. Gilad - it’s been an honour to be part of your journey, and to have you and the MyHeritage team as part of the Accel family. We wish you and your team every success as you write the next stage of your history.
- Martin and the Accel team