Friends Reunited no more: Pioneering social media site to close

But "every negative needs a positive", says co-founder, so welcome to the all-new Liife, an app for recording the key moments in your life.
Written by Colin Barker, Contributor

The pioneering social media site, Friends Reunited, is calling it a day. After 15 years of helping to rekindle old friendships -- whether it be of old friends, old colleagues, or even just old acquaintances -- it is finally closing its doors.

In a message to the sites members, co-founder Steve Pankhurst said that despite several re-launches, Friends Reunited "hasn't covered its costs and like any business this can't continue indefinitely [so] whilst it's sad, I believe it's time to move on and put Friends Reunited to bed".


Friends Reunited: As it looked at its birth in 2000.

Photo: Friends Reunited

"And I feel like I am the right person to do it," he said.

It was Pankhurst's wife, Julie, who first got the idea for the site back in 1999. She had used the internet to "track down a long lost grandfather she had never seen".

When she wanted to track down some old school friends, she thought it would be good if there was an application that would help her do that -- and so Friends Reunited was born.

From its inception, the site proved to be incredibly successful, growing rapidly until a few years after its launch it was a multimillion-dollar company being courted by other companies anxious to cash in on the internet's runaway success.

One of those was the UK's ITV, which in 2005 bought the site for £120m and then sold it just four years later for £25m to DC Thompson company, Brightsolid.

Although when ITV bought the company Parkhurst severed links with it, two years ago he was asked to have one last go at reviving it. Through its lifetime, Friends Reunited had built up a loyal customer base and it was re-launched in 2012, but really it was the launch of Facebook that marked the beginning of the end for it. Friends Reunited had its moments of controversy, not least when the press in the UK claimed it encouraged infidelity: "'If you value marriage do not visit Friends Reunited', one 2005 headline screamed -- claims which the site's creators rejected.

Now it is coming to an end, but Parkhurst, ever the optimist, has already mapped out its next stage, called Liife. He is keen to make sure that people understand that it is not an attempt to try the same thing again.

"I know it is near impossible to reboot something that was old and in decline," he recently wrote.

"Liife will be a version of my original LifeChart idea," he wrote. "The idea being to plot your life through a series of key moments  --  these could be anything from holidays, parties, marriage, kids, gigs, sporting events etc."

The key is the moments could be past moments or moments that are happening now. "We are trying to make a site that helps people share pictures and memories with ONLY the people who shared them with you," he said.

Read more about Friends Reunited and other social networks:

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