Genealogy buffs rejoice as Mocavo indexes countless searches into a single, social site

Genealogy buffs rejoice as Mocavo indexes countless searches into a single, social site

“Dead people are neither fresh, nor popular.” According to ancestry search startup, that’s exactly the problem that we’re facing when it comes to the different methods of search people are using today to find family history. Fortunately, CEO Cliff Shaw and the Mocavo team have found a way to make things better.

Shaw is no stranger to the world of online genealogy. In fact, Mocavo is his fourth entry into the space, and his previous three have all been hugely successful. He started out in 1997 by building a site called GenForum. At 19 years old, he saw the site hit 60 million monthly pageviews after its first year, ranking it in the top 200 sites in the world.

The problem that Mocavo is solving, as Shaw sees it, is actually muti-faceted. The leading site,, has a proprietary database of information. Google, where most of us turn to find public information, doesn’t tend to index things that aren’t fresh and popular, thus the opening statement. Beyond those two behemoths, there are thousands of sites across the Internet that have great information, but it would take you literally billions of potential search queries to find them.

Shaw doesn’t want Mocavo to replace, though. In fact, he states that there is enough publicly-accessible data on the Internet to create an entirely new database of information but nobody has managed to put it into one place before.

Obviously, vertical search is the key to Mocavo’s success. Rather than branching out to find every piece of information on a given term, Mocavo focuses entirely on making sure that it is providing results that are relevant to the task of genealogy. Then, in using a vertical search method for public data, Mocavo is seating itself into the empty space left beside

“We won’t try to replace Ancestry, but we think that there’s plenty of room in the market for another player. These are two different sets of data and there are people who are passionate about finding genealogical information. These people want access to that data and they don’t really care what it takes to get there.”

In short, Mocavo feels that there’s plenty of room in the market for people who are willing to pay to get the results that they want from a single site rather than wasting time searching across the thousands.

There are a couple of big plays that should work very well for Mocavo and its users. First off, each Mocavo user has a profile page where they can interact with other users. They can browse different users, find those who have searched for the same people and then collaborate efforts to pull in data for each other, while helping Mocavo in the process.

In a market that is presently churning $1.5 billion annually, there’s room at the top for more than one. Mocavo is poised to take a seat that has been earned, rather than given. So, the next time that you “see dead people”, it will likely be on Mocavo’s site.

This post is part of our contributor series. The views expressed are the author's own and not necessarily shared by TNW.

Read next: StyleCaster CEO picks his 12 favorite accounts to follow on Twitter #FF