The first we knew about it was when we got home and found that our site was down.” JP: “At that point we had one little machine and it just stopped working.We'd gone from 20 or 30 registrations a day to a thousand in a couple of hours.” SP: “We found what had happened by looking through message boards.’ We looked into it, and there was a site called Classmates, but they were only doing the United States.” SP: “I, quite famously, said ‘what a load of rubbish’ to it.There was an awful lot of looking back around then, with the millenium, with programmes on TV looking back at the 1980s and 1970s and school days, and there’s the idea of school reunions - they’re horrendous.It turned out to be difficult selling the site to a new generation of users, who weren’t growing up knowing what it meant to lose track of friends.ITV eventually sold Friends to Beano publisher DC Thomson for £25m in 2009, but a 2012 redesign was widely disliked. And while its spinoff sites – especially geneology site Genes Reunited – remain popular and profitable, it's still a surprise I wanted to know what it was like to be the creator of a website that was a cultural phenomenon – and why they'd want to try and save it, having walked away almost a decade ago.
A lot of people at that time, the internet was really big and they’d say, ‘Oh I have an idea for the internet and I can make millions’.There was one little server running the database and everything in a bedroom, a tiny ISP down the road from us, and every time thousands of people tried to access the site it died.We kept it going through the night, but it would last ten minutes, you'd have to reboot, it'd last ten minutes, and eventually we bought a second server and had to get them working together at the same time. We thought we were onto something.” JP: “There was a story in the , that was the other big thing, at about the same time.SP: "I think it was inevitable, it was always going to decline, and it's amazing it carried on as long as it did.They pivoted it, when DC Thomson bought it they turned it into a memory picture board. I must admit, I thought it was brave, they spent a lot of money and time and effort on it.