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MyHeritage to be acquired by Francisco Partners

It seems like it’s the season for it — changes in the genealogy world.

Just as a million people around the world signed in for RootsTech Connect 2021 and began playing with new MyHeritage technology to animate images,1 and not quite two months after Family Tree DNA was acquired by Australia-based genomics company myDNA,2 the news came of the planned acquisition of MyHeritage by California-based Francisco Partners.

MyHeritage of course is one of the major genealogy companies and a big player in the DNA world today. It’s well on its way to becoming the platform of choice for serious users of DNA for genealogy since it combines essentially all the tools a researcher could want: matching, a chromosome browser, links to family trees and computer-aided tree-matching called (corrected🙂 Theory of Family Relativity.

MyHeritage acquisition

In a news release, the two companies said:

MyHeritage, the leading global service for discovering your past and empowering your future, announced today that Francisco Partners, a leading global investment firm that specializes in partnering with technology businesses, has signed a definitive agreement to acquire the company. The financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

“When I founded the company from my home eighteen years ago, I had a clear vision that drove me, and continues to drive me today – to make family history discovery easier using technology and to unlock the fun in genealogy: the human pursuit that bonds people,” said Gilad Japhet, Founder and CEO of MyHeritage. “With the help of an excellent and dedicated team, years of hard work, and with constant technological innovation, we created new and exciting ways for people to learn about their origins. In Francisco Partners we see a true partner for our journey ahead, not only demonstrated by the trust they are placing in our company through this acquisition, but in their desire for us to remain true to our vision by continuing along our path and helping us do what we do best – putting our users first and giving them life-enriching, and sometimes life-changing, experiences. This move will enable us to reach new heights, invest more resources in creating greater value for our users and to reach a larger audience. We’re incredibly excited for this next chapter in our company’s evolution.” “By leveraging our operational expertise, market resources and strong industry networks, we believe Francisco Partners is uniquely positioned to help MyHeritage accelerate its vision for growth. We are deeply impressed by the incredible achievements and relentless determination of Gilad, a visionary leader in genealogy who has grown the company from a start-up to a profitable global market leader,” said Eran Gorev, Francisco Partners‘ President of Israel & Senior Operating Partner, who will join the MyHeritage board of directors upon the closing of the transaction. “We are looking forward to partnering with Gilad and the entire MyHeritage team to help drive market expansion for the company.”

“With its unmatched presence across Europe combined with its development of unique, cutting-edge technologies, MyHeritage is an ideal investment for Francisco Partners. The company has proven itself to be an innovation powerhouse through its robust subscription business, unique positioning, advanced technology portfolio, and international focus that has enabled it to build a superior user experience,” said Matt Spetzler, Co-Head of Europe and Partner at Francisco Partners, who will also join the MyHeritage board upon closing. “Francisco Partners shares MyHeritage’s vision for growth as well as its intense commitment to ensuring the privacy of its users. The users’ personal data is an extremely important priority and we will work together with MyHeritage to expand its already strong privacy framework going forward.”3

The big question, of course, in acquisitions like this is: what does this mean for the privacy of DNA testers? MyHeritage has the strongest privacy protections for users in its terms of service, including a provision that “using the DNA Services for law enforcement purposes, forensic examinations, criminal investigations, ‘cold case’ investigations, identification of unknown deceased people, location of relatives of deceased people using cadaver DNA, and/or all similar purposes, is strictly prohibited, unless a court order is obtained. It is our policy to resist law enforcement inquiries to protect the privacy of our customers.”4

And the uncompromising answer to that question came first in the press release itself: “MyHeritage takes a best-in-class approach to user privacy and does not sell or license personal data. Under MyHeritage’s partnership with Francisco Partners, this commitment will be further strengthened and users will benefit from enhancements to the company’s privacy framework. As a first step in this strategy, MyHeritage will shortly update its privacy policy to include the unequivocal prohibition for the company to license or sell genetic data to any 3rd party. These updates will be highly unique amongst the larger genealogy and genetic DNA industry and are a testament to the commitment both MyHeritage and Francisco Partners share to privacy and consumers.”5

That was then followed up in a response from Gilad Japhet to The Legal Genealogist‘s question about law enforcement use: “there will be no change in MyHeritage’s fierce commitment to PREVENT law enforcement use of its database. MyHeritage will even go further now and pledge to never sell or license genetic data to any 3rd party, in any shape or form. The changes in the privacy policy in that regard are being formulated and published soon. … (O)ur direction is to have a privacy policy which is most favorable for the users among all genealogy and DNA testing companies.”6

So there you have it.

Change, yes.

But changes in privacy protections? Only to enhance them, and not to diminish them at all.

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “Another acquisition,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 28 Feb 2021).

H/T to Cheryl Chasin for the correction…


  1. See Judy G. Russell, “Technology that is cool…,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 26 Feb 2021 ( : accessed 28 Feb 2021).
  2. See ibid., “DNA winds of change,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 10 Jan 2021.
  3. See “MyHeritage to be Acquired by Leading Private Equity Firm Francisco Partners,” BusinessWire, posted 24 Feb 2021 ( : accessed 28 Feb 2021).
  4. “DNA Services,” MyHeritage – Terms and Conditions, updated 18 Apr 2020 ( : accessed 28 Feb 2021).
  5. MyHeritage to be Acquired by Leading Private Equity Firm Francisco Partners.”
  6. Email, Gilad Japhet to Judy G. Russell, 26 Feb 2021.
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