It's the holiday season, which means family, family and more family.  

So what better way to keep track of all those nieces, nephews and second cousins once removed then with, Los Angeles based Geni.  

For those that haven't heard of Geni, basically its a place where you can map your family tree web 2.0 style.  Meaning that its essentially one big social network where when I can add my mom, dad, siblings and whatever, which then will email them an invite so they too will add others, to complete the family tree.  Obviously this is viral at its best.  

Geni, has been around since the beginning of this year and has been growing at a predictably strong rate (well over 5 million 10 million profiles).  They announced at the beginning of this week via their blog that they are starting to allow your family tree to be viewable publicly.  I definitely think this is a good move, because it starts allowing you to show connections outside of Geni (via other social networks like facebook, myspace or whatever).  Geni so far has done a good job with privacy, so until they start making big mistakes like Facebook, I think most people will like having the ability to make their family tree visible.

So far the only major thing that is concerning is the valuation Geni received.  It was well covered in the technosphere that with Geni's 10M in funding from Charles River Ventures, Geni ended up being valued at 100 Million.  BizOrigin sums up the concerns pretty well and the only thing I'd add is that I really hope that the kind of expectations levels that people will have on Geni doesn't kill it.  Sure Geni COULD map the entire worlds relations, and it COULD become worth its 1 Billion in gold, but it also can still be pretty cool without achieving that level, and I hope they are allowed other options then 1B or bust.

Regardless of the numbers though, Geni is just cool to use.  It's not going to replace Facebook for heavy social network users, but it just may well be the first social app that baby boomers and older types will latch on to.  It does have competitors (established ones like myheritage and ancestry plus up and commers like itsourtree), but I actually think that Geni is the best of the bunch.  At any rate, if nothing else, Geni will be a cool thing to show my gramps when I see him for Christmas. 


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