Beano publisher to relaunch Friends Reunited

by Oct 17, 2011 No Comments

DC Thomson is planning to relaunch the social networking site Friends Reunited.

The company’s online subsidiary brightsolid, run by the computer games pioneer Chris van der Kuyl, is working on a revamp to be unveiled early next year.

Friends Reunited was founded in 2000 by a husband and wife team curious about the fortunes of old school chums. By 2005, it had more than 15m members and was sold to ITV for £120m.

But it lost ground to other social networking sites, particularly Facebook, and last year Dundee based brightsolid bought it from ITV for £25m.

“People have the perception that, like Myspace, it’s done; its goose is cooked,” said van der Kuyl. “But with not a lot of fresh content and a rather staid user experience, it still has around three million monthly active users in the UK.” As well as providing technology services to businesses and organisations, the company has an online publishing division.

It includes findmypast.com, the first website to put the complete birth, marriage and death indexes for England and Wales online, and ancestorsonboard.com which traces the flow of people travelling around the world between 1890 and 1960. The deal with ITV also included the site Genes Reunited.

“We are about people and places on the internet and what’s important to you on the internet,” said van der Kuyl.

The entrepreneur, who was brought into the company by merchant banker Sir Angus Grossart four years ago, said the aim was not to compete directly with Facebook. But he believes there is potential for “easy to use, single-purpose social media experiences.

“We’ll be a high value product; people will invest more time building and protecting their personal collections on Friends Reunited, Genes Reunited and so on. And we’ll be bringing something new to both.”

Will Peakin Will Peakin

Beginning as a reporter on weekly newspapers in the North-East of England, Will moved to Glasgow and worked as a freelance for a number of UK national newspapers. In 1990 he was appointed News Editor of Scotland on Sunday and in 1995, Scotland Editor of The Sunday Times. In 1999, he and his family moved to the south-west of France where he wrote for The Sunday Times Magazine. Returning to Scotland in 2002, he was Assistant Editor (Features) and Deputy Editor at The Scotsman before joining Holyrood Magazine in 2004. He writes for the magazine's business pages and edits its series of...

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