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Friends Reunited was the most popular kid in the class after it kicked off social networking in Britain at the turn of the century.
Unfortunately, as it approaches its tenth birthday the site has been losing friends and alienating people, prompting rumours this week that its parent company, ITV, might sell after just three years of ownership.
It has fallen from 2.3 million visitors in January 2008 to 1.8 million, according to com Score.
Estimates of Friends Reunited’s value have fallen as low as £20m, the same as JP Morgan analysts predicted its earnings for the year.
At the time, Mr Murphy said: “When ITV approached us we immediately clicked; they share our values, they are a national institution that is trusted and well loved and, by joining with them, Friends Reunited will become the UK’s eighth most visited site.” The Pankhursts and Mr Porter left when the group was bought by ITV, then under the stewardship of Charles Allen, and they pocketed a cool £30m each from the sale. They bought it at the peak of Friends’ performance, and since then it has declined, while others have done the social networking thing better,” one industry expert said.
The relationship failed to be as successful as either had hoped. The group has been hit by severe competition in the past few years.
The site enjoyed a dominant position in the first half of the decade but reacted slowly to the emergence of younger and hipper rivals.
It was hamstrung by its revenue model and is accused of not providing enough applications and services to attract new members and keep the existing ones happy.