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January 19, 2016updated 31 Aug 2016 9:57am

Friends Reunited, one of the first social network pioneers, set to close

News: The site is set to shut down after nearly 16 years of operation.

By CBR Staff Writer

UK social networking site Friends Reunited is set to close after nearly 16 years of operation.

Friends Reunited was launched in 2000 as a site for members to trace old friends they had lost touch with, such as old school, university or work colleagues.

The site was one of the first popular social networking sites in the UK, once boasting over 23 million users at its peak.

It currently has about 10 million registered users, with the majority of them out of date.

ITV snapped up the site for an initial outlay of £120m in 2005. The broadcaster also paid an additional performance-related fee of £55m.

However, ITV sold the site to Brightsolid in 2009 for £25m. The company relaunched Friends Reunited in March 2012 with a new emphasis on nostalgia and memories.

One of the site’s founders Steve Pankhurst said: "I knew it was near impossible to reboot something that was old and in decline. I had hoped that after putting it back to near its original form, that it would plateau off, which it did, and be self sufficient in terms of covering its cost.

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"But over the year, it became clear that most of the actual users coming to the site were using it purely as a message board. And I also realised, that of the 10m+ users registered, a lot had done so over a decade ago and hence their contact details were out of date.

Pankhurst noted that 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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