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Meet Christophe Becker, Geneanet’s New President

Posted by Jean-Yves on Jun 6, 2023

Hello Christophe, after the departure of Jacques Le Marois, you have been appointed President of Geneanet. Can you introduce yourself?

I am 54 years old, married, father of 3 college-age children, and passionate about genealogy for over 30 years. After gaining professional experience in the field of consulting and sales in information technology, I joined Geneanet at the beginning of 2003 to take over the management after a meeting with Jacques Le Marois. At that time, there were only three of us!

For more than 20 years, I participated in the development of the site, doing a bit of everything at the beginning of the adventure, except the technical side (I am a business school graduate). As the site grew, as new talents joined us, I focused on the internal organization of the company and on our growth strategy alongside Jacques.

In short, I am not a newbie in the Geneanet adventure ;-)

So you are a genealogist… Can you tell us more about your roots?

My 4 grandparents are from Paris, but their ancestors came from many regions of France. My paternal grandfather’s grandfather left his native Lorraine just before the 1870 war and quickly opted for French nationality instead of German; his ancestors were shoemakers from Moselle.

On my paternal grandmother’s side, but also on my maternal grandfather’s side, my roots are deep in the heart of Burgundy, in the Mâconnais (that’s probably where my predilection for Burgundy wines comes from…) and the Chalonnais.

On my maternal grandmother’s side, my roots are on the Aubrac plateaus and in the Lot valley in Aveyron and I must admit that I have a special tenderness for my Rouergat ancestors.

I also have ties to Savoie, Corrèze, Champagne, the southwest of Ile-de-France, Beauce, Sarthe, Touraine, Mayenne, not to mention a few ancestors in Switzerland or Yorkshire in Great Britain. A very land-based genealogy in fact since none of my known ancestors lived near the coast…

Have you had any surprises in your research?

Like many French genealogists, I’ve been able to partially confirm the famous saying by Jean de la Bruyère: “We are all descended from a king and a hanged man.” I still have to find the hanged man…

I’ve always been amused to find ancestors in common with well-known people such as Claudie Haigneré, the first French and European woman in space, or an even closer relative, the composer Francis Poulenc.

As for surprises, I’ve discovered that my English branch came from a small village in Yorkshire, Thirsk, where the TV series Downton Abbey takes place!

Do you have interests or hobbies beyond genealogy?

I love to travel and I also do a lot of photography… The two go together very well. And like every genealogist, I attach great importance to my family!

What is the key strength of Geneanet today?

I believe that Geneanet is unique for 2 main reasons: the many talents that make up its team and the particularly loyal and committed community that supports it.

At Geneanet, we are a team of about thirty people, the vast majority of whom are passionate about genealogy. We are lucky enough to combine our passion with our professional activity. Geneanet’s employees are therefore the first users of the site and understand and anticipate the needs of our millions of visitors.

Our second asset, of which we are particularly proud, is the community of genealogists who contribute so actively to the development of Geneanet, whether by sharing their trees, by contributing all types of archival collections that they have digitized not only in France, but increasingly throughout Europe and even on the other side of the Atlantic, or by participating in our many collaborative indexing projects that allow us to share more and more data available nowhere else, beyond vital records, with everyone for free.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank our community for its active participation in the Geneanet project, both through its financial support via the Premium subscription and through its contributory participation in the data shared on the site.

When Jacques Le Marois called you to the management of Geneanet in January 2003, you found yourself quite alone, as he himself was not yet operational in the company and all the volunteers had left the ship. How did you live this moment, which was quite a challenge? Could you have imagined what Geneanet has become today?

In January 2003, Geneanet only had 2 employees who managed the daily operations. But the users were there and continued to add to their trees and the traffic was growing continuously. I was already a Geneanet user myself and was a regular visitor to the Genealogical Library in the rue de Turbigo in Paris. I was touched by Jacques’ confidence and I tried to manage Geneanet not like a start-up but like a small business. This meant worrying about expenses and revenues and not waiting for better days like in many start-ups… The Privilege Club (ancestor of the current Premium offer) already existed and a few thousand users were subscribed to it.

My first decision was to go and find Jérôme Galichon, the technical pillar of our site, so that he could come back to work with me. Between the two of us, and with the help of a few interns, we put together a small team and started developing the site again. As the number of Premium subscribers increased, we were able to recruit new talent, a real interest in genealogy having always been the first selection criterion. We wanted to make a genealogy site by genealogists.

Of course, we never imagined what Geneanet would become, which is why we are so proud of how far we have come.

What are your most memorable moments from your 20 years at Geneanet, the most difficult and the most enjoyable?

I have a lot of memories at Geneanet… Each new version of the site has been an important moment since we had to accompany our members, presenting new features and convincing them to accept the changes that can sometimes be confusing… But a website must evolve and take advantage of the latest technological innovations to remain competitive…

The most difficult moments were undoubtedly the deaths of some of our employees, some of them young. A company like Geneanet is a bit like a big family where we get attached to each other and departures due to unforeseen circumstances are moments of suffering to go through.

One of the most joyful moments was the celebration of Geneanet’s 20th anniversary which allowed us to reflect on all our accomplishments and to celebrate the event with the small world of French genealogy.

I think what’s unique about Geneanet, if we compare it to other major genealogy sites, is our network of very active volunteers. On this subject, a major innovation came out in France and Europe a few years ago, “les Rencontres Geneanet”. Can you tell us about this unique aspect of our site, how do you see it evolving?

Indeed, among the members of Geneanet, a very large number contribute selflessly, with community spirit,to enrich our databases from their own research. Of course, since the beginning of Geneanet, any data that is contributed by our volunteers remains freely accessible to all other members of the site, and that won’t change.

Often, we were asked to come and present Geneanet all over France, either during genealogy conferences or simply for informal meetings. Unfortunately, our small staff does not allow us to travel as much as we would like and that is why we had the idea to launch Les Rencontres Geneanet. These meetings are organized all over France, and in some other European countries, by users of the site who are our ambassadors to other users, both beginners and experienced.

There are rich exchanges about their shared passion for genealogy and how they use Geneanet.

Geneanet is now part of the Ancestry group, the world’s leading online genealogy and family history site. How is the relationship with Ancestry going? What does this relationship bring to Geneanet?

Quite frankly, the relationship with Ancestry is going very well and I really enjoy working with a global team and the different perspectives and experiences that brings.

Ancestry has understood and respects the specificity of Geneanet. In this day and age, a company project where the values of collaboration and sharing are put forward is precious and Ancestry is providing us with the means necessary to preserve it.

I believe the most exciting part of the relationship for our Geneanet users is the data we have been able to add; more than 500 million new records so far. We will continue to add more data and collections which will continue to fuel more and more discoveries for us all.

Our trees are also now indexed on Ancestry and this has allowed many new users to discover Geneanet and join our community.

How do you see the future of Geneanet, are we changing course or are we continuing as before?

I’m very confident about the future of Geneanet within the Ancestry group. With new resources, we definitely want to continue to grow Geneanety and make it a “Geneanet for everyone”. Everyone should be interested in coming to our site, whether it be for their passion for genealogy or simply out of curiosity about their name or family history.

To make this happen, we must continue to modernize our site while simplifying it. Some features that are not used enough or that do not meet the needs of our users can be transformed or regrouped as it has been the case in the past.

Geneanet is like a grand old mansion that needs to be maintained, but which has all modern conveniences due to the constant innovation of our teams and the loyalty of our members.


I am a 93 year old geneanet and ancestry user who has found the high cost of ancestry not conducive to continuing but so far geneaet provides most of what I nead for researching my family. Thanks

I have 7 images that are of Boulogne Protestant Cemetery that is a list of names before the cemetery was put to different use. It was sent by the Mayor to the British Consul in early 19th cent.

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