At the time of acquisition it was a hot social network, but its massive revenues were from subscriptions rather than from advertising.
You had to pay in order to get the contact details of the friends you were reunited with via the website.
But during 2006, while Michael Grade was chief executive, there was an even bigger explosion in social networking.
US-founded Facebook was starting to eat into the UK market.If you were a student in Britain by 2006, you were likely to be a member of Facebook, Myspace or Bebo.You would be staying in contact with friends constantly, so the need to visit a site like Friends Reunited disappeared.I'm probably one of the few people who think that buying friends reunited wasn't a particularly stupid act by ITV.Sure, the channel paid well over the odds, but it was one of the most visited and hottest British websites back in 2005.
It mirrored the £330m takeover of social network My Space by the Rupert Murdoch-owned News Corporation.Arguably it was ITV's management of the site that led to today's annoucement that it was looking for a buyer.I have a little personal experience of selling an internet company to an "old media" company who didn't quite understand the web and ultimately didn't capitalise on its potential. G-Wizz, the Granada owned portal and internet service provider closed in 2001 and ITV hadn't properly launched There was certainly no streamed content and no online revenue.Taking over Friends Reunited taught ITV a lot about how the web works, introducing them to online advertising and as Michael Grade said today, wouldn't be as big as it is now without Friends Reunited.While you can criticise ITV for paying so much - £175m over three years - its real failure was with the management of the site.