ITV Sells Friends Reunited To DC Thomson For £25m

UK Commercial broadcaster ITV sold the ever-shrinking social networking website Friends Reunited to Scottish publisher DC Thomson for £25 million, significantly more than previously thought.

Last week, we reported about rumours that the site was going to be flogged for as little as £15 million to Peter Dubens, through private equity entity Oakley Capital, which would mean that ITV would have slapped a massive 91 discount on its once cherished jewel.

Still, the sale to DC Thomson of a website that was purchased at £175 million four years ago for a fraction of its price can only bring back memories of exploding websites during the first dotcom bubble at the beginning of the Millennium.

The fate of a once bright and shiny social networking website appeared to be sealed when ITV launched a number of cross-media (or cross pollination) initiatives including TV shows that would "interact" with the site.

This didn't work and the fact that Friends Reunited actually cost money meant that users left the site in drove to populate other social networking websites like Facebook.

According to Comscore, the number of unique users on Friends Reunited dropped from 5 million one year after the site was purchased in 2007 to around 1.7 million in December 2008.

The site was originally launched in 2000 by Steve and Julie Pankhurst to get old school friends in touch again and still attracts around three million people a month according to the chief executive of Brightsolid.

Brightsolid, a subsidiary of DC Thomson, will be in charge of the website and there are already plans to integrate Friends Reunited with its existing genealogy business.