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And, unusually for an internet business of the era, it was profitable.
But just two years later the wheels had well and truly fallen off the bandwagon.
In 2007, it grew by just 1.2 per cent year-on-year.
“Myself and my business partner, Jason [Porter], both of us being [web] developers at the time, were looking for ideas to branch out on our own.
We saw the internet as the future.”But one investor who ran the rule over the business when it was later put up for sale says the reality was rather less romantic: “The founders went to America to look at which sites were performing well there with the idea of repeating that success over here.” The website that impressed them most, he says, was classmates.com, a site that helped users find classmates from school and college or their workplaces and the military.
Whatever the truth of the matter, Friends uk was launched in 2000 and users started registering at the rate of one to five a day.
“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.