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Site unable to compete with rivals

Friends Reunited closes down after 15 years

Friends ReunitedOne of the original social networking sites is to close after the founders decided it is no longer economical to run.

Friends Reunited, which launched in 2000, has struggled to keep up with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and a host of others which followed in its wake. It has followed Bebo and MySpace as one of the fallen pioneers of the social networking age.

Steve Pankhurst and his wife Julie thought up the idea and it quickly proved popular among adults seeking out former school friends, work colleagues and old flames but was soon blamed for causing marital disputes and even break-ups.

In 2005 the site was sold to ITV for £120m, plus a £55m earn-out deal. But its value quickly slid and Dundee-based DC Thomson acquired it just four years later for £25m, folding it into its genealogy company Brightsolid run by entrepreneur Chris van der Kuyl.

Two years later Friends Reunited was said to be worth little more than £5m and in 2012 it was given back to Mr Pankhurst and Mr Porter to see if they could revitalise it.  It is understood that Thomson tried recently to buy it back.

However, most of the 10 million people on its register had not updated their details for a decade or so.

Mr Pankhurst said: “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. And I feel like I am the right person to do it.”

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