One of the first truly popular social networks, Friends Reunited, will close in the near future. In a blog post charting the history of the site, co-founder Steve Pankhurst said that due to the site no longer covering its costs, and much of the stored data being years out of date, he, “believes it’s time to put FriendsReunited to bed.”
Pankhurst and fellow founder Jason Porter started the site back in 2000, and designed it to help people reconnect with old school friends. It exploded in popularity and in 2005, it was purchased by UK broadcaster ITV for $250m, before being sold again in 2009 to DC Thomson — yes, the comic book company — for a fraction of that price, just $35m.
However, despite redesigns, new features, and alterations to the site’s core principals, it never recaptured the popularity it attracted in the early 2000s. Social networking online had changed, and Friends Reunited was going the same way as Friendster and MySpace. Interestingly, DC Thomson gave Pankhurst the chance to try one last time with Friends Reunited, and in 2013, made a deal to return the site and see if he could do something with it.
Pankhurst was realistic in his expectations, and hoped that by bringing back the original features, the site would cover its costs and live on. After a year, the site was only functioning as a message board for a few visitors, and the more than 10 million registered users had signed up at least a decade before, meaning contact details were inevitably out of date. It was then the decision was made to shutter the site.
On Twitter, the news of Friends Reunited’s closure saw the site trend in the UK — where the site was initially most popular — but many of the tweets centered around surprise it was still going at all. Even the news the site was closing passed most by for a week before being spotted.
Despite the death of Friends Reunited, the team behind the site already have another project ready to go. Called Liife, it’s a tool for capturing key moments in your life, then sharing them with specific groups of people. It will launch soon, and anyone interested can sign-up for early access here.