In a blast from the past, Friends Reunited announced today that it will be shutting down after nearly sixteen years of operation. Launched in the UK back in 2000, Friends Reunited predated modern social networks including Facebook and Twitter which commenced operations later that decade.
Originally founded by Steve and Julie Pankhurst along with Jason Porter, the website was sold to ITV in 2005 for £175 million. The site was later sold on to DC Thompson in 2009 for a comparatively small £25 million who later approached Steve Pankhurst and Jason Porter to resume operations of the site on their behalf later in 2011.
However, by that time, it was too late to turn around the ailing social network.
In a post on Medium, Mr Pankhurst noted that:
"I knew it was near impossible to re boot 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 costs. 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realised, that of the 10m+ users registered, a lot had done so over a decade ago and hence their contact details were out of date.
Later in his post, Pankhurst lamented Facebook and how personal photos are lost in a "mass of vacuous information". However, he seized the opportunity to talk up his next project as a solution to this problem.
To be launched over the next year, Liife was described by Pankhurst as a "great way to store the life of a child through pictures and memories". The idea was inspired by a small unpublished website he built for himself called LifeChart to privately document and store moments in his life.
Friends Reunited will remain operational for another month before going offline permanently.