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Geni – the most viral application in history?


I’ve been playing with Geni for a few weeks and it’s amazing. Forget about all those social networking apps and mySpace clones, this is the single most sticky, viral and pervasive application I’ve yet come across on the Web. Period. It’s nothing more than a family tree app, but it’s designed to be so easy to use and so simple to share, that it sucks you in before you realise. You see every time you add a family member and their email address, it automatically emails them to ask them to add their group to the tree. I started with 5 immediate family and within weeks it’s shot up to over 200 people spread across the world.

There are a number of great things about the application (like the sharing of photos, the automatic birthday reminders and the description of how someone is related to you – so that’s what a first cousin twice removed is? – etc) but suffice to say that many people will just enjoy the photos and links on the main tree page. I suspect that the company is stretching resources to keep up with demand because the site gets slow as molasses at times, but this is one application that could really rock the Web big time once it really takes off. Check it out for yourself.

 Geni lets you create a family tree through our fun simple interface. You can expand your tree by adding relatives’ email addresses. They will be invited to join your tree and can add other relatives. Your tree will continue to grow as relatives invite other relatives. Each family member has a profile which can be viewed by clicking their name in the tree. This helps family members learn more about each other and stay in touch. Family members can also share photos and work together to build profiles for common ancestors. Geni is private. Only the people in your family tree can see your tree and your profile.


  • Wow, it really is easy and quite addictively interesting.
    Now if I can just get the email addresses of those I know in heaven!

  • Matt, I believe that plug-in is in development. :-)

  • Nice, but I can’t help thinking: do I really want that obscure cousin of a cousin of a brother of a step father of a cousin twice removed knowing my mother’s maiden name ?

  • Hey Mike, how can you say that? It’s family. :-)

  • Thanks for the nice write up about our site. We have even more new features and enhancements that we’ll be rolling out during the next year so stay tuned.

  • Now you’re scaring me even more Joanne. :-)

  • Excellent. I’m over 40 (and some) so by definition MySpace, YouTube, etc make no sense to me at all, and I get lost just trying to log in.

    Plus this is the age when you start thinking about family and legacy stuff. Plus, of course, any rich uncles with dodgy tickers. Or cute ninth cousins to hook the kids up with if one fancies keeping it the family Ancient Egyptian-styly.

    My only concern is the possible data harvetsing by the unscrupulous. How many times have I seen a security question, as noted: ‘Mother’s maiden name’? Kinda hands it on a plate.

    I know there’s stuff only ‘family’ can see, and all is probably on Google or the public domain to a determined miscreant, but some caution may be in order.

    I added a lot and still am only on 60%, so a little prune may be in order before emailing the dynasty.

    But as a user-friendly interface I have to agree it is truly very good.

    As I always get asked about my – equally free – site, I wonder what the business model is? I know what it takes to bulid and run these things!

  • Good points Peter, not sure about the business model. I suspect they’re in a race for eyeballs right now and then they’ll start adding in contextual advertising of some sort. It’ll be a rich harvest with all that knowledge, eh? I seem to remember a Paypal founder being one of the launch investors, so if that’s true they’re not short of dosh really.

    I like your site. Nice idea. :-)

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