Former Ancestry.com execs to launch new genealogy startup YouWho (exclusive)

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Utah is best known for its mountains, Mormon population, and genealogy and family heritage companies. Ancestry.com is the best known of the bunch, and a U.K. private equity fund, Permira, snapped it up for a cool $1.6 billion last year.

At the VCIR conference in Park City, Utah, former Ancestry.com executives unveiled their stealthy new venture, called YouWho.

YouWho’s team is digging up old family photos and documents and linking them to family members and direct descendants of the people in those photographs.

The tagline is YouWho will “show you who you are.” The company has already secured $5 million in seed funding from Silicon Valley-based venture firm Lightspeed Venture Partners and is looking to raise additional capital.


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Imagine an old prom photo from the 1950s. Dozens of people are likely descendants of the girl in that photo, with her bouffant hair and dress, and would kill to own it. These relatives might not even be aware of the photo’s existence.

YouWho is hoping to be a marketplace of sorts for people to purchase artifacts like these. The company can sell content at premium prices to people who feel an emotional connection to it.

Cofounder Andre Brummer said in an interview (the first with the press — YouWho has stayed very quiet) that he expects people will upload content to the website and tag it. To make this process simple, the site is integrated with Facebook via the open API.

Brummer is also procuring old photographs and memorabilia that is stored up in attics and in thrift stores. YouWho won’t own the content, but will license it from the original owner.

By pulling metadata from the photo and using facial recognition technology, YouWho’s team of engineers will attempt to link the photo to people who are connected to it in some way.

YouWho has a highly ambitious goal and a tough road ahead, given that it will need sufficient content to drive consumers to the site. However, Brummer claims that the company already has 200 million pieces of content stored in the back-end.

Brummer’s cofounder, Tom Stockham, is the former chief executive of Ancestry.com. For more information on YouWho, check out the video below.


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