Friends Reunited, one of the original social network sites, has finally given up the ghost, after admitting most of its members had not updated their profiles for years and it was time to call it a day.
Launched in the year 2000 – four years before Facebook – by husband and wife team Steve and Julia Pankhurst along with Jason Porter, and at its height it had 15 million users.
The company was bought by broadcaster ITV for £175m ($250m) in 2005. However, after years of neglect, its value plummeted and the site was flogged off to comic publisher DC Thompson for only £25m in 2009.
Pankhurst – one of the original founders – offered it back to him in 2014. Pankhurst and business partner Jason Porter took it on for a trial period to see if they could breathe new life into the business. At the time, Pankhurst told The Sunday Times that he was under no illusions about the scale of the task ahead. He added: “It’s going to be tough, but I am really excited. I have dabbled with a few things over the years but nothing really got off the ground.”
In email announcing the decision to scrap the site he said it is still used by “a handful of members” but that it is “no longer used for the purpose it was built for”.
“It became clear that most of the actual users coming to the site were using it purely as a messageboard,” wrote Pankhurst. “And I also realised that of the more than 10m users registered, a lot had done so over a decade ago and hence their contact details were out of date.
“But importantly – it hasn’t covered its costs and like any business this can’t continue indefinitely. Therefore, whilst it’s sad, I believe it’s time to move on and put Friends Reunited to bed.”
Pankhurst is now planning to launch a new service called Liife, designed for people to plot key moments in their lives, but only to share them with those who were involved rather than a wider audience.
Friends Reunited in new relaunch