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The tipping point came when Steve Wright mentioned the site on his top-rating Radio 2 show in the summer of 2001 and its popularity exploded.
“I describe this period as both the best and worst of my life,” says Pankhurst.
He first got involved after the Pankhursts and Porter tried to sell their business for £18million in 2002, when it was making revenues of £6.6million a year.
We saw the internet as the future.”But one investor who ran the rule over the business when it was later put up for sale says the reality was rather less romantic: “The founders went to America to look at which sites were performing well there with the idea of repeating that success over here.” The website that impressed them most, he says, was classmates.com, a site that helped users find classmates from school and college or their workplaces and the military.It is not hip and there hasn’t been enough investment in applications and services.You also can’t overstate the importance of Facebook.” New owner DC Thomson sought to reinvent the site as a place to store and share old photos rather than contact old school friends.Just two years after Murphy’s arrival, the company was sold to ITV, and the three founders left on completion of the deal which earned them £30million apiece. By now the online social network market was becoming increasingly crowded.As we have seen, Facebook had launched a year earlier, joining others such as Bebo (launched in 2003) and later My Space (2005).