Friends Reunited, one of the internet's first social network site set up in 1999 is set to close down after struggling to compete with other social networks like Facebook. The website's founder, Steve Pankhurst wrote in a blog post that it was time to move on.
"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. I feel like I am the right person to do it," said Pankhurst, who launched the site 17 years ago with business partner Jason Porter.
Pankhurst explained that although the platform was still used by a "handful of members" it was "no longer used for the purpose it was built for."
Despite the relaunch of Friends Reunited in 2012, the entrepreneurs realised that the social media 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," Pankhurst said.
"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realised that of the 10m+ users registered, a lot had done so over a decade ago and hence their contact details were out of date.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 are 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."
Pankhurst continued: "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."
Pankhurst and Porter sold Friends Reunited to ITV Plc for around £175m in 2005. The website was then sold in 2009 for £25m to DC Thompson. Two years later, the company valued the website at £5.2m and gave the site back to Pankhurst and Porter to see if they could relaunch it.
The closing of the site and seen some sentimental posting on Twitter. Some were sad to see it go while others were surprised the website was still around. Another person recalled how Friends Reunited caused a number of broken marriages and "at least one attempted murder."
The site will remain live for another month to allow users to download photographs they may have stored on the service. Pankhurst plans to launch a new social media site called Liife. The new site will allow users to plot key life events on a chart.
In a post, Pankhurst admitted that the idea was not unique but he hoped the greater element of privacy specific to the service would prove to be popular. The users only share the new site with those who were involved in their specific key life events rather than a wider audience.