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“DC Thomson decided to pivot Friends Reunited into more of a memory/retro picture site.Setting up your profile is nothing special, it’s all pretty standard stuff.

The way founder Steve Pankhurst tells it, the site was very much the result of a light-bulb moment over the kitchen table.

“In 1999, Julie, my wife was pregnant with our first child,” he wrote in a blog.“She had just used the internet to track down her long lost grandfather that she had never seen.

“I could see it was a fantastic brand, for which users felt immense loyalty,” Murphy said later.

“But I also believed only a fraction of the brand’s potential had been monetised.”With the new man at the helm, Friends Reunited launched a dating service and Genes Reunited, which traces users’ ancestors, as well as expanding into CDs and books.

After that ploy failed, Murphy joined the business as part of a management buy-in, a process that involves newcomers taking a stake in the business in return for investment and expertise.

The founders are believed to have given up 40 per cent of the company’s shares at this point.

However, rather naively, we thought we could do everything and it became very stressful and completely 24/7.

Just keeping the site going was a challenge under the amount of traffic we were getting.” What they needed was a big hitter from the business world to take the company to the next level.

In a bid to recover market share Friends Reunited dropped the subscription fee it required for users to contact other members in March 2008 but by now it had other problems.

At the time of its sale to DC Thomson Friends Reunited was seen as much less cool than the fast-growing Facebook.

As Eden Zoller, principal analyst at new media research group Ovum, said at the time: “Its image has fallen by the wayside.

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