It’s the end for FriendsReunited. It is to close down.
It was one of the earliest social media websites.
The husband and wife Pankhurst duo started it up.
Classmates and Friends
They often talked about how they got the idea for it.
However, Classmates.com, which did exactly the same thing in the American market, was in existence well before FriendsReunited started.
FriendsReunited started up in 2000 – well before Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
It rapidly became one of the biggest websites in the UK.
They sold the website in 2005 for a fortune.
The Early days of Social Media
Despite social media becoming more popular, FriendsReunited stagnated and then declined.
In its day, FriendsReunited, MySpace and Bebo were the biggest social media websites in the UK.
However, because Classmates.com existed in America, FriendsReunited could not break into the USA.
Ofer to Take FriendsReunited Back Again
Said Steve Pankhurst, the co-founder, “Not long ago I was approached by the FriendsReunited owners, to see if I wanted to take it back and try some new projects with it.
“It was evident that putting the site back to be more like its original form was not a service people would get excited about using again.
“The site is still used by a handful of members however it has become clear that the site is no longer really used for the purpose it was built for. For the site to continue it needs a complete re write and this is just not viable”.
FriendsReunited to Close
So, it was decided to shut it down.
Said Steve, “it is with a heavy heart, that we have decided to close the service down. This will commence in the next month.
“We do recognise that people have a lot of old photos within their profiles on the site. We will therefore provide a link to allow you to login and download your photos. You will be receiveing an email in the coming months with further information on this.”
So, that’s a shame.
There’s a twist to this that affects us.
I heard about Classmates.com in 1999.
So, with a couple of fellow contractors, I decided that we should start up a reunion website for IT Contractors who meet and then lose contact after working together.
It grew rapidly in the contractor market in the UK. It was called NamesFacesPlaces.
Plans To Expamd to Other Markets and Countries
The plan was to expand it into other contractor markets like Accountancy.
It would have been a mix of FriendsReunited and LinkedIn.
It started up in 1999 – a full year ahead of FriendsReunited and years ahead of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
If I had just decided to use NamesFacesPlaces as an exact copy of Classmates.com, but in the UK, I would have had a year’s start on FriendsReunited.
Indeed, they may well never have existed if I had started first.
I expanded NamesFacesPlaces into an advice and news website for contractors as well as being a reconnect service.
Social Media Dead
So, what happened to NamesFacesPlaces?
Well, one reader, in one comment after an article, said in 2001 that social media (or whatever it was called then) was last year’s idea.
I thought, “I’d better get out of this, then and do something else”.
So, I decided to change the name to www.ITContractor.com, concentrate on the News and Advice part of it, and that was the end of that – despite it being very highly used by contractors.
I was in and out of social media before Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter had even started up.
I wonder what would have happened if:-
a) I had just replicated Classmates.com in the UK
b) I had kept NamesFacesPlaces and did expand into all the contracor and then the other non-contract professional markets and then expanded gerographically, which was the plan too.
We’ll never know.
I did actually join FriendsReunted and found it very useful, reconnecting with quite a few people from my past.
Seeing it shut down is the end of an era.