rootstech 2022

It is just 3 days until rootstech 2022, a completely free, virtual genealogy conference, sponsored by FamilySearch.org You can sign up at www.FamilySearch.org/rootstech/ and enjoy a vast array of lectures and discussions on the topic of family history with a strong emphasis on DNA testing.

In late 2020 / early 2021, Ancestry, MyHeritage and FamilyTreeDNA, three of the largest players in the field of DNA testing for family history, were all sold or merged with other companies. I am interested to see if these ownership changes will stifle development on their sites or if perhaps new funding will facilitate wonderful new features. Rootstech is where we are likely to hear about new features being released or planned for the near future.

Ancestry has long resisted providing any sort of triangulation of DNA matches (A shares DNA with B and C, but do A, B, and C all share the same DNA with each other), citing privacy concerns, but perhaps the new owners (Blackstone Group) will take the company down this path, that the other major players have been on for several years? At the time of acquisition, Blackstone stated that they want to help Ancestry to “expand its product offerings” and “drive ongoing technology innovation”. Ancestry has around 4 million subscribers to their online records, and over 20 million people have taken Ancestry DNA tests, so it should be obvious how important DNA testing is to their customer base. Perhaps they will introduce an autoclustering tool for DNA matches? Over the past year or so, Ancestry has introduced new features that facilitate linking your DNA matches to your tree and identifying whether DNA matches are maternal / paternal and their relationship to you. Will these features be used to improve the Thrulines feature that suggests how you are related to your DNA matches?

23andMe, the second largest player in the autosomal DNA testing field, did not participate in rootstech in 2020 or 2021, and I don’t see them listed as a major sponsor this year. This speaks strongly to their focus on DNA testing for health information rather than for family history. So I don’t expect any major announcements from 23andMe.

MyHeritage has grown very quickly to hold a strong third position in terms of DNA test database size, and has been innovative in the past with photo enhancement tools, autoclustering of DNA matches, etc. Hopefully the new owners will continue to fund development and push out useful new features to their customers.

FamilyTreeDNA is a major player in Y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA testing, but their autosomal DNA database is not large enough to be the first place to look for DNA relatives. Perhaps the merger with myGene will change that?

I had great hopes for LivingDNA when they started up several years ago, but at this point they do not even offer a DNA Shared Match list. Will they finally bring some features to market, or perhaps they will be the subject of an acquisition announcement?

You know where I will be from March 3rd to 5th, enjoying the best genealogical conference of the year, from the comfort of my own home. Perhaps I will see you there?

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