Online business executive Peter Dubens could be about to snap up Friends Reunited from ITV for just $24.6 million, a massive $263 million less than what ITV paid for the social networking site just four years ago.
In the same vein as MySpace, Friends Reunited finds itself hurtling towards the internet scrapheap of innovations that “used to be awesome” but have failed to move with the times and have thus been usurped. The duo of trend setters “back in the day” are now relegated to the “so 2005” pile of outcasts.
Mr Dubens made his money buying small time internet providers, consolidating them into bigger companies then selling them on to major international providers like Tiscali. The entrepreneur is involved with a digital media fund with fellow internet guru Michael Birch, the man behind Bebo.
Friends Reunited could be one of a number of ventures the new capital fund invests in. In this buyers’ market, and with ITV desperate to rid itself of its social media failure, a cheeky offer might be enough to persuade the television company to part with Friends Reunited.
Quite what Mr Dubens might do with the social network remains to be seen. Online advertising revenues have been sapped by drooping visitor returns. In April 2008, Friends Reunited recorded 19 million users with 70 per cent of those returning to the site once every 18 months.
Compare that to Facebook’s 200 million users, most of whom can’t go 10 minutes without giving someone a poke or scribbling something mundane on their wall and you can see a vast void that needs to be bridged.