Build an App for MyHeritage and Win $10,000

MyHeritage, Israel’s best hope of having a big Web 2.0 winner, keeps marching along, leaving Geni further in the dust and proving a surging challenger for already-public

The company has nearly 60 million registered users, who have uploaded 20 million family trees, 800 million profiles and 125 million photos on the site. All of that inventory is helping fulfill the early promise of sites like MyHeritage and Geni: Discovering who you are related to. MyHeritage is enabling more than 20 million new “Smart Matches” a month.

Today it’s announcing its Family Graph API to enable more developers to build family-oriented apps on top of this unique set of connections. MyHeritage is hoping to jumpstart some developer love by launching a competition for the best family app, with a $10,000 prize. The competition starts September 1. Some obvious ideas are event planning and Tshirts for family reunions or family-only photo sharing apps.

You may wonder why MyHeritage is only now getting around to launching an API, given that most social media companies have had API-fever for years. MyHeritage has always come at its business  from more of a genealogy-nerd point of view than a Silicon Valley Web developer point of view. Indeed, several acquisitions the company has made in recent years were done to get more of that sexy Web 2.0 DNA into the company.

But late or not, it seems to have played the balance right. The gorgeously designed Geni didn’t take off as fast as investors hoped, while the far less social– which relies more heavily on official data and still doesn’t have an API– has lacked some of MyHeritage’s viral qualities.

As we’ve written before, a huge advantage for MyHeritage is its global focus, something it may not have cultivated if it had been born in the Silicon Valley in-crowd. is far more US focused and most people’s deep family trees span languages and boarders. Not only does MyHeritage have a big global audience, it’s available in 38 languages. Some of this has been organic, but the company has been aggressively acquiring leading genealogy sites along the way as well.

Don’t expect this to be the last announcement the company makes this year.