Social networking site goes for £25m
British broadcaster ITV has sold social networking site Friends Reunited for £25m, despite spending £170m acquiring it in 2005. The announcement was made as the company revealed a 12% slump in revenue and losses of £105m for the first half of the year.
Friends Reunited has been picked up by brightsolid, owned by privately-held publishing firm DC Thompson. The firm also owns The Beano and Dandy comics. Brightsolid currently owns a website called findmypast.com, which operate the 1901 and 1911 Census websites along with The National Archives.
Brightsolid is expected to link findmypast.com with Friends Reunited spin-off Genes Reunited, a site that enables people to trace their family history records and family tree.
“We see the acquisition of Friends Reunited Group as an exciting opportunity to provide new focus for and build on the iconic status of the Friends Reunited brands. Between them these brands attract over three million unique users per month,” said Chris van der Kuyl, CEO of brightsolid. “This also marks another step forward in the future strategy of brightsolid, widening its offering to the consumer marketplace, in particular by creating Britain’s leading genealogy business.”
Friends Reunited was launched in 2000 as a site for members to trace old friends they had lost touch with, such as old school, university or work colleagues. The site was one of the first popular social networking sites in the UK and membership quickly grew to 15 million. ITV snapped up the site for an initial outlay of £120m in 2005 and paid an additional performance-related fee of £55m earlier this year.
The site failed to keep up when other social networking sites emerged in the UK, most notably MySpace, Facebook and more recently Twitter, but it remained profitable, according to ITV. Along with its social networking and Genes Reunited sites, the Friends Reunited catalogue also includes a dating site.
In March this year ITV announced that it was looking to offload Friends Reunited as part of a company-wide cost cutting programme and disposal of non-core assets.