Friends Reunited to close after 17 years

Social network site Friends Reunited is to close, according to the site’s original founders.

After launching the site in 1999, Steve Pankhurst and business partner Jason Porter sold the site to ITV Plc for roughly £170m in 2005.

But the service struggled to compete with other emerging social networks such as Facebook and ITV disposed of the site for £25m in 2009 to online genealogy group Brightsolid.

Two years later it was declared Friends Reunited was worth around £5.2m and the site was given back to Mr Pankhurst and Mr Porter to see if they could revitalise it.

But despite a re-launch in 2012 it became clear to the entrepreneurs that the site would never be able to regain its former glory.

“It became clear that most of the actual users coming to the site were using it purely as a message board,” Mr Pankhurst wrote in a blog post.

“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realised that of the 10m+ users registered, a lot had done so over a decade ago and hence their contact details were out of date.

“So even if you were coming to the site to find someone and wanted to contact them, how frustrating it must be to see them listed there and try to contact and then get no response.

“It felt like if you were trying to track an old friend down then we, Facebook and numerous other sites had sort of done that.”

Mr Pankhurst continued: “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.”