Doppelgänger Week on Facebook is nearly over, but the effects will be felt for a long time by Israeli genealogical success story MyHeritage. That’s because MyHeritage’s mobile app has a feature called MyCeleb that scans through its database of famous photos to find the celebrity that most looks like you (or whoever’s picture you upload). And this week has seen the site sign up a record number of new subscribers.
But first, what the heck is Doppelganger Week? I didn’t know myself until half way through when I noticed people were changing their Facebook profile photos willy-nilly, sometimes several times a day. It’s not clear exactly how it started, although there’s an apocryphal story about a guy named Bob Patel who was constantly told by workmates he looked like Tom Selleck.
However it began, the results are people posting pictures of other people posing as themselves. Once I figured it out, I had to join in.
When I was in my first year of college, my roommate’s mother told me I looked like Dustin Hoffman. Since my roommate was also named Brian, his mom took to calling me Dustin for the next two semesters.
“No way,” said my kids. Find another celeb. They told me to download MyHeritage to my iPhone.
Established in 2005, MyHeritage’s main business is as a site enabling people to post their family trees and make seemingly infinite family connections. The site has raised $49 million, including a new infusion of $25 million late last year. That enabled them to buy out competitor Geni. The company charges for some services and it’s estimated to earn over $20 million annually. The site has an astounding 72 million registered users, 1.5 billion profiles and 27 million family trees, according to an article on our parent site, Israel21c.
The MyCeleb feature on the MyHeritage app is more fun than functional. I used my phone’s camera to snap a shot. At first it said it had no matches. I didn’t give up and was rewarded with… Nelson Mandela. Now, I sort of understand: we both have fairly high foreheads, but I am not, to the best of my knowledge, African. MyHeritage’s second choice: Michael Richards, Cosmo Kramer on the “Seinfeld” TV show. Ironic given the latter’s infamous racist outburst that ended his comedy career some six years ago.
Maybe MyHeritage was just tired. After all, it’s been a busy week for the app: by the third day of Doppelganger Week, more than 338,000 photographs had been uploaded in attempts to identify suitable doubles and the app was being downloaded at an average rate of 6,200 times an hour, according to Haaretz. By the time the week ends, it is estimated that at least a half a million users will have joined the site.
I wonder what super successful Doppelganger MyHeritage will post on its site?