Julie Pankhurst's curiosity about the current status of old school friends inspired her to develop the website, exploiting a gap in the UK market following the success of US website
Formerly, the site cost £7.50 per year to use but it was later free of charge.
The main Friends Reunited site aimed to reunite people who had in common a school, university, address, workplace, sports club or armed service; the sister site Genes Reunited enabled members to pool their family trees and identify common ancestors; the Dating and Jobs sister sites linked members with similar attributes, interests and/or locations.
one of the most important bits of ITV going forward, a massive presence, and profitable" Following regulatory approval, the sale was completed on 25 March 2010.
Following ITV's sale of the site to DC Thomson's Brightsolid subsidiary in 2009, the company relaunched Friends Reunited in March 2012 with a new emphasis on nostalgia and memories.
The website was conceived by Steve and Julie Pankhurst of Barnet, Hertfordshire and friend Jason Porter in 1999.
By December 2005, Friends Reunited had over 15 million members and was bought by British TV company ITV plc for £120 million (8 million), plus further payments of up to £55 million based on its performance up to 2009.In 2007, ITV Chairman Michael Grade described the site as "the sweet spot" of the internet and stated that "Friends Reunited is one of the great undersung jewels in the crown ...Friends Reunited branding was attached to CD collections of nostalgic popular music, and television programmes broadcast on the ITV network, which owned the site until August 2009.A book of members' stories was published in 2003 by Virgin Books, and a song about (and named after) the site was released by The Hussys in 2006.Each site worked on the principle of user-generated content through which registered users were able to post information about themselves which could be searched by other users.A double-blind email system allowed contact between users.