Monday, January 25, 2010

Five Fascinating Interviews

Do you want a "behind the scenes" look at the CEOs of five well known genealogy companies - their careers, their companies, their futures? The January 2010 issue of the online magazine Mormon Entrepreneur has lengthy interviews of:

* Paul Allen, Founder and CEO of

* Alan Eaton, Founder and CEO of OneGreatFamily

* Janet Hovorka, Founder and Development Director of Generation Maps

* John Vilburn, Founder and CEO of Ohana Software

* Russell Wilding, CEO of

The interviews were done for an LDS church publication, many of the questions pertain to LDS church issues, and the companies are involved with the church family history department in some way, but they do provide information and insight into each profiled company. The most interesting thoughts for me included:

* "Everything we do will be on including genealogy searches, all the databases that we’ve accumulated over the last 3 years, the 1.2 billion records, and all the family trees that are being built." - Paul Allen

* "OneGreatFamily was built to be the skeleton of the human family tree, and the technology is there ready for people to hang all kinds of meat on the bones, to fill out the stories, and we have stories in OneGreatFamily. " -- Alan Eaton

* "...I am passionate about having family history out where I can see it. We can do any style or any design that someone wants to do. We can do things from any type of file. We’re trying to make this the place to do genealogical printing. There really aren’t any other companies out there that can make any type of chart from any file." - Janet Hovorka

* "I’ve seen some companies that have started to address that portion of the market where you are not just finding out who your ancestors are, but really learning about their lives. That includes journals, histories, photos, and knowing about the way things were at the time your ancestors lived. " - John Vilburn

* "That’s what we’re trying to help tell—their stories. Not just an index. “There is no history—only biographies.” That’s what we are about. That is what is different about our company. That’s why we go after historical content, not just birth, death, and marriage records. We’re after pension files, newspapers, and all kinds of military records." - Russell Wilding

Please go to the Mormon Entrepreneur website and read all of the interviews. There were some statistics embedded in these interviews - the one that surprised me the most was that a survey indicates that only 1% to 3% of LDS church members "do family history work." Each of the interviewees stressed that they are committed to working with the LDS Church members and the larger genealogy community.

Another interesting statistic are the number of employees for each company --

* FamilyLink = 50
* OneGreatFamily = 30
* Generation Maps = 6
* Ohana Software = 9
* = 30

My thanks to Claire LeBeaux of OneGreatFamily for sharing the link to the magazine with me. The Ancestry Insider also linked to the magazine interviews last week.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Great post, Randy. Very interesting interviews - 'read every one and was impressed with each.

Thanks for your good work,


Rob Dunford, CEO/CMO