If you run a family-centric site, I bet you can not forget China, although none of those family-centric sites has rocked Chinese market yet. We got in touch with Bob Samii, Marketing Director of Genoom.com which is reported as the 3rd largest social networking site (with 3.5millions user profiles) focusing on connecting families.

Genoom is created by David Díaz Daré, now CEO of the company. The project started in March 2007 and its beta version was first launched in July. In Genoom, users can add family trees, personal information, photos, videos, and related documents about ancestors and living relatives alike, limiting access to uploaded information through invitations and custom group privacy settings.

Available in 16 different languages, Genoom recently also added Chinese language support. We talked to Bob who kindly shared his understanding of the product and the business:

The key features of Genoom

– Multilingual: now translated in 17 languages with a big focus on Spanish-speaking countries;

– Fast-loading AJAX platform and most others are Flash-based;

– Facebook application which allows users to access and build their family trees within FaceBook accounts.

– the first site support GEDCOM.

Keep the idea simple: Discover and stay in touch with your family

“Some of other sites are more focused on the research and genealogy discovery aspect, e.g. Ancestry.com has a DNA test service, but our intention is to create more of a family-oriented communication tool.  Just like Facebook is for your friends, LinkedIn is for your business contacts, Genoom is for staying in touch with your family within a private, secure network.” Bob said, “There still isn’t any clear winner, as you noted, but we believe that family-based social networking is poised to be a massive market.”

Chinese market has Big potential, but how-to?

Localizing Genoom in Chinese is more than just the translation and it is important to understand and know the peculiarities of the Chinese culture. Bob told me they had hired a person from China to join the team who will be responsible in supporting their efforts in China. It is a good move, but it also reminds me two things, Geni used to set up an office in Shanghai but closed it after a year; Kindo which is now merged with MyHeritage has also hired a Chinese staff based in London. So which can be the first truly grabs Chinese users?

The revenue: ads and charge for services

the primary income source can split between advertising and charge for services. The advertising can be combined with paying accounts, which will offer additional services to the user. “In the next phase, we foresee utilizing other income ways, such as commercialization of objects related to the family.” Bob mentioned.

David Diaz Daré said, “By adding Chinese language support to the Genoom network, we’re able to connect a large population to family members both locally and globally, unlike other family networking sites. Our goal is to make Genoom as internationally accessible as possible, to connect even distant family in ways previously not available due to geography and language barriers.” The insight is absolutely brilliant, but eventually waking up the family tree market is still not an easy-to-do and note that the competition is already tough.

Gang Lu

Dr. Gang Lu - Founder of TechNode. He's a Blogger, a Geek, a PhD and a Speaker, with passion in Tech, Internet and R'N'R.

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7 Comments

  1. The idea of keeping family and friends close is great, family social network can this become true. There are already many websites targeting families, but to add real value to family network is a challenge objective. Like MyHeritage which owns 26 million users and 260 million profiles, has already shift focus on improving communication and interaction between family members – such as face recognition technology used in photo tagging, sending virtual presents and etc. until last week, Myheritage launched another 9 languages and push the total number to 34 – more than all other competitors! Family social network has just entered its initial phase and there is a long way to go before becoming a part of family's life, I believe it is the future of gold.

  2. The idea of keeping family and friends close is great, family social network can this become true. There are already many websites targeting families, but to add real value to family network is a challenge objective. Like MyHeritage which owns 26 million users and 260 million profiles, has already shift focus on improving communication and interaction between family members – such as face recognition technology used in photo tagging, sending virtual presents and etc. until last week, Myheritage launched another 9 languages and push the total number to 34 – more than all other competitors! Family social network has just entered its initial phase and there is a long way to go before becoming a part of family's life, I believe it is the future of gold.

  3. Genoom's going to have a difficult time targeting CN market. There's no doubt that the idea is fantastic and it's supposed to have great potential to grow for Chinese. However, just like many other western social websites, the 2 major challenges would be: 1) being cloned within 1 month and the copy-cat is going to be even more popular than you (there's no better example like Facebook); 2) 75% of the netizen are aged under 25. The mentality of this generation is totally different to their parent's generatioin. The Family-centric morale is now changing with the fast growth of China's economy. The youngsters spend a great deal of time on net to connect with their schoolmates and netfriends but not their family members. Lastly, Genoom has to think about the internet technology of the country too. The fact is there are still huge number of computer doesn't support a flash-based website in China. Just my 2 cents.

  4. Genoom's going to have a difficult time targeting CN market. There's no doubt that the idea is fantastic and it's supposed to have great potential to grow for Chinese. However, just like many other western social websites, the 2 major challenges would be: 1) being cloned within 1 month and the copy-cat is going to be even more popular than you (there's no better example like Facebook); 2) 75% of the netizen are aged under 25. The mentality of this generation is totally different to their parent's generatioin. The Family-centric morale is now changing with the fast growth of China's economy. The youngsters spend a great deal of time on net to connect with their schoolmates and netfriends but not their family members. Lastly, Genoom has to think about the internet technology of the country too. The fact is there are still huge number of computer doesn't support a flash-based website in China. Just my 2 cents.

  5. Gaining traction in any new market is always tough, but it's a challenge we look forward to. It's true that the majority of youngsters spend time online to connect with friends and schoolmates, but that's because most users don't want to communicate with their family in the same environment. The beauty of sites like Genoom is that it provides a separate, private environment, just for family members to interact.

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