A Look Back at 2011

Posted December 30, 2011 by Amanda | 27 Comments

With the New Year upon us, we thought this would be the perfect time to reflect on some of the great things Geni has accomplished in the past year.

2011 in Retrospect

We spent the first couple of months of 2011 further enhancing and refining popular features. Enhancements to documents, sourcing and projects have really helped to make it easier to share and collaborate with other users. As the year progressed, we pursued features to further facilitate collaboration and highlight the advantages of our premium features. We made some significant changes to the way Geni works, and while they may not have been the most popular, we believe they will ensure Geni’s longevity and enable us to continue to build new features and enhancements that make Geni the best collaborative genealogy platform. As we move forward, we remain firmly committed to our goal of creating the canonical world family tree.

Let’s take a look back at some significant developments and milestones of 2011:

Profile Revisions (March 2)
Before the start of 2011, we introduced the ability to view and revert text revisions for profiles, surnames and projects. With this release, we further expanded this feature to allow the ability to view the revision history of a profile and revert to the previous values for each profile field displayed.

Public Editing for Pros (June 23)
To make it easier for users to contribute their knowledge to Geni’s world family tree, we opened up editing permissions of public profiles to Pro users without the need for collaboration. All changes were reversible by other users with edit permissions on the profile and profile field locking was made available to Curators to help maintain the accuracy of the profile’s information.

New Header (August 11)
We introduced a cleaner, simpler header to make navigating on Geni even easier. With these changes, users are able to go directly to their tree in just one click and all notifications are now found in one place.

More Enhancements to Geni Pro (August 11)
New enhanced permissions to Geni Pro were introduced to accelerate the growth and improve the quality of the world family tree. All Geni Pro users were given the ability to edit and merge public profiles. We saw a great increase in the number of merges as users were hard at work eliminating the number of duplicate profiles. With these changes, merging and search became a Pro only feature.

Note: In November, we limited the Pro permissions to edits and merges only on public profiles they are connected to. Pros are no longer able to edit and merge unconnected public profiles without collaboration.

Geni Public Access (August 18)
The Geni Public Access program was introduced to provide Geni users with the opportunity to experience Geni Pro for free at public libraries and genealogical societies that provide access to computers connected to the Internet. Users can experience all the features of Pro from our growing list of participating institutions.

Introducing Geni Plus (September 13)
A new subscription package was introduced that offered many of the benefits of Pro for a fraction of the cost.

Record Matches (September 29)
As part of our effort to create the best platform for genealogists to collaborate and build the world family tree, we partnered with Archives.com and GenealogyBank to help make researching your family history faster and easier. Since record matches are found automatically, users don’t have to spend extra time conducting separate searches from various genealogy databases.

In November, we added Find A Grave to our record matches. The free grave registration site holds millions of records containing photos, biographies and dates to help enrich the information on your relatives’ profiles. We hope to add more great record partners in the future.

Changes to Membership Tiers (November 2)
While Geni has always offered free Basic accounts, we made some significant changes to our Basic and Premium memberships. As your tree grows, you’ll want to take advantage of our Plus and Pro memberships to get the most out of your Geni experience. To help make the membership tiers easier to understand and provide a greater value to our users, a new number-based tree limit was introduced, while search was added as a Plus feature. Based on user feedback, Pro merging permissions were modified. This enabled users to continue working on the world family tree, while accommodating those who wished to build their own tree.

Geni’s World Family Tree Reaches 60 million Profiles (November 11)
This year, Geni’s world family tree reached a new milestone – over 60 million connected profiles and counting. Over 10 million profiles were connected in the past year, bringing us closer to achieving our goal of creating the world’s largest and most comprehensive family tree. We’re thrilled to continue to see the growth of the tree through the hard work of millions of collaborating genealogists.

Geni Celebrity Quiz on Facebook (December 23)
We were super excited to announce this Facebook game. We introduced the Geni Celebrity Quiz on Facebook as a fun, interactive game to test your knowledge of celebrity trivia and discover how some of Hollywood’s top celebrities, both past and present, are related. To top it off, you can even challenge your friends to see who can get the top score!

What’s to Come

As we enter 2012, we are thrilled at the prospect of enhancing our collaboration tools and introducing more exciting features to the site. One such feature we’re eager to enhance is projects. Since introducing projects, thousands of inventive projects have been created and they’ve served as the perfect place to unite individuals who share common interests. It’s been pretty impressive to see what’s been accomplished so far. In the coming year, we have some big plans to make projects even better and we think you are all going to love it!

Thank you to everyone for your passion for Geni and we look forward to another exciting year in 2012!

Happy New Year!


Post written by Amanda

Amanda is the Social Media Coordinator at Geni. If you need any assistance, she will be happy to help!

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  • Nicholas

    I can safely say that Geni won’t be the best “free” app of the year for 2012. Also, I predict the slowdown of grown in Geni due to a ridiculous pricing scheme based on lockouts. Its a fallacy to say that the membership structure provides a “greater value to our users” when numbers are falling. 

    • Landau

      I don’t even think Geni can really be called a free app anymore. The free version is now restricted to building a very minimalist family tree, or reading the family tree produced by others.

  • Synnest

    The biggest change in 2011: Geni has successfully shut off most of its users.

    • Ilya


  • Shanthi

    In 2012, Geni needs to find a business model that is pro-customer. Asking to pay for adding members to the family tree, after nearly 4 years of being a Geni user, sucks.
    In 2011, Geni has successfully disappointed its users.
    The tree cannot be seen on iPAD anyways, we are locked out from adding more family members, many of us are thinking of migrating to more customer friendly applications, even if it means Some compromise.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Adam-Adamski/100002041141967 Adam Adamski

    The worst geni.com year so
    far! I hope in 2012 geni.com will be restored for users, and the person
    responsible for the mistakes the second half of 2011 lost “job”… If
    not i hope geni.com will be bought by myheritage or ancestry.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Adam-Adamski/100002041141967 Adam Adamski

    The worst geni.com year so
    far! I hope in 2012 geni.com will be restored for users, and the person
    responsible for the mistakes the second half of 2011 lost “job”… If
    not i hope geni.com will be bought by myheritage or ancestry.

  • gs

    I’m looking for a way for my extended family to store contact info and pictures. I thought Geni would be a great option. However, the free plan is limited, which would be ok if the paid plans were reasonably priced. Your pricing plans are over priced. $60/year for plus? $96 for pro? There’s no way I’m going to suggest that to my relatives. I think you would get a lot more paying customers and make more money overall if your annual price was more like $25 plus and $40 pro. Think about it, really. Meanwhile, I’m going to find another website.

  • Markjoffe

    Intead of patting yourself on the back and listing all the “great things” you have accomplished maybe a little reflection on all the negative feedback that Geni has received in the past year would be called for;  I dont know many successful enterprises who alienate their clients and disregard their feedback ! Someone has really screwed up this year and should seriously rethink , or make way for someone else who can regain customer confidence and satisfaction.

  • http://www.markschwartz.co.il/ Mark Schwartz

    As a Pro who thinks your software is probably the most sophisticated and suits my needs, I beg you to consider getting more banners than the three that I have already seen, Archives, ancestry.com and Genealogy Bank.  Maybe you have more, but they don’t apply to the records I have chosen.  Consider other related companies who might like to have a banner as well. Changing your policies the way you have has created a great deal of animosity and disappointment among your many users.  I think the people have spoken and you need to listen to us. I will not badmouth you and I want to work with you. Think about how Facebook and Google put ads and banners.  It is not rocket science.  Best regards, Mark

  • Landau

    Geni has indeed taught me lots of things in 2011:  a) do not put all your genealogical eggs in one basket.  b)  maybe my private family tree documents were not so bad after all.  c) I never really all that alert to the  meaning of ‘bait and switch’, ‘monetization’ and ‘crippleware’ in terms of public websites — now I have had some firsthand education. 

  • Landau

    Geni has indeed taught me lots of things in 2011:  a) do not put all your genealogical eggs in one basket.  b)  maybe my private family tree documents were not so bad after all.  c) I never really all that alert to the  meaning of ‘bait and switch’, ‘monetization’ and ‘crippleware’ in terms of public websites — now I have had some firsthand education. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/muammar.ishak Muammar Ishak

    Had discussed with some of my relative and they are currently have no interest in Geni anymore.. Even just for a free member. They are not even allowed to add their own son/daughter, or their spouse when the limit reach.. at least give permission to add for their own family(parents/children/spouses) without any limit..

  • http://www.facebook.com/josephsblake Joe Blake

    Geni has done an excellent job at alienating key members of their community (premium and free members) as well as implement the bait-and-switch tactic.  Nice job, a$$hats!

  • Tim

    Geni seemed like a good idea a few years ago, but now, with all the anti-customer changes that occurred in 2011, if I ever do come up with $400 to spend on genealogy, chances are I will spend the money elsewhere.

    • Ilya

      Yes. And may be I can found pay 400$ for Geni, but for comfort work with geni all my realtivs need pay  400$.  

  • http://www.sartinlaw.com/ Probate lawyer

    All the enhancement and changes made over the last year are perfect. They have been made as per requirement of time. And they made Geni more user friendly. 

  • Ryan

    I think 2011 will be remembered as the year that Geni pissed off the bulk of its users by taking their hard work and research and restricting their access to build, merge, and collaborate by adding an unsustainable price structure. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=635711555 Timothy Ignatius Xavier Rutnic

    Charging free users to add more people to their trees, especially after they’ve already contributed so much, is cruel. Haven’t you gotten the clue that ads are what makes most popular websites their money? All these changes have done is sucker punch the people that made Geni all that it was. Look at all the banks, phone companies and others who reversed their decisions once they LISTENED to their customers. I can only hope that sometime soon Geni will see the huge error it made and give its users what they want. If not, this will be a terrible year for them.

  • Milo

    Horrendous strategic decisions on 2011. I can’t believe that your company did not see what happened to Netflix on 2011. I have exported my GEDCOM tree and I’m assessing my options in 2012. I hope you guys reassess your business model in 2012 otherwise there won’t be any business thereafter.

  • james

    1. gedcom import option removed 2. no feature for gedcom updates 3. poor pricing structure = remove credit card from account and do not renew.

  • Anonymous

    Wow, what a joke… Hey Geni, in 2012 how about resolving to roll-back your absurd pricing/membership scheme to they way it used to be in 2010 eh? What’s it going to take for you guys to get a clue? Then you can focus on actually improving your product, rather than trying to develop new schemes to make a quick buck. Try building a non-flash tree interface, and perhaps throw in a mobile app… But, alas…it’s quickly become too-little, too-late… Oh well, at this rate I’ll be surprised if Geni sees 2013.

  • Undecided Ex User

    I had an intention to invest my time and contribute to the biggest free family tree. And now what?..
    I would understand symbolic fee (just to validate users and be sure that they are entering data responsibly), like 5$/year. Or asking for paid membership, if user wants to add photos etc. But not for base data.

    BTW, should I delete all the profiles I’ve created, before moving to other location?

  • John Wilhelm

    As a long-time user with thousands of tree profiles, I am EXTREMELY DISSAPPOINTED by the new pricing policy and tree limits!  I have recently contacted extended family and I cannot invite them to the tree and Geni has lost those potential users – what kind of business plan is that?  Thanks for nothing Geni!  I will be another patron who is looking for a way to take down their tree to another place. 

  • G Bronsonfox

    I am glad to read these. Have been a Pro user and as I reassessed whether to re-join, I found the new limitations on the Basic acct so extreme that I would find the site useless unless I stay Pro. And I tried using my Pro “customer service”,  which took 4 days to respond to my 3 questions–and none were answered adequately. Most importantly, the cust service responder did not explain the 2011 changes, so I had to go find those myself. 

    Its a great site, but seems to have an executive that does not understand the marketplace for geneology users.

  • david gunnells

    I joined in 2009 and added 1200+ profiles. I haven’t had much time the past 8 months to add and/or make updates. I get on and see that my tree is bigger than the “basic” limit of 100 (“when did this come about?”, I’m thinking) and that I cannot add above a certain ancestor level (“why not?” is my next though). 

    Did you hire the fools at Netflix who took their customers through the ringer?

    Whatever fiduciary needs you have cannot explain such a strange set fundamental changes to those who’ve been happily adding profiles of their own family genealogy to this site. 

    If facebook, which has active users in the 10s of millions, can survive as a free service, you are doing something wrong. 

    This should say it all:

    20 comments on this “look back” at 2011 and *all of them are negative*.


  • http://www.prestigecollisiondfw.com/ collision repair service

    Geni is already satisfactory with it’s all the features. The so called project feature will be great. I am proud to be a member of geni.