Thursday, March 29, 2012


It's said you should never go back to the scene of the crime. Last week I did just that.

I sold FriendsReunited in December 2005. ITV for some strange reason didn't want me around - no idea why - did they not trust my deep corporate ethic that I so clearly have. 

I've kept close contact with quite a few from those days, some very close friends fortunately. However, regarding the actual site itself, I am sad to admit I probably have only logged on a handful of times in 6 years. It felt like it lost its way - concentrating on earning revenue whilst Facebook concentrated on taking over the world before revenue.

I kept quiet too - mainly because although I had an opinion it didn't feel right to criticise the very hand that fed me. Plus I need a week off from swearing online - part of one of my blogs was lifted for the Independent last week, very much out of context (as always) and its embarressing for your daughter to count the number of f words and for your mum to feel equally proud and ashamed of her son at the same time. Don't worry I'll get back to swearing in a day or 2 when things have died down and I am back to writing boring tech crap.

ITV sold FR 2 years ago, and since then it has also been very quiet. I too had had no contact from the company who brought it - Bright Solid - although my friends moved over to them but I didn't really know what they were going to do with it.

Until last week.

By pure chance, they moved into a building in Shoreditch opposite where I do the odd bit of work. And on the day I found this out, I had lunch and a coffee with 2 old colleagues, and FR announced they were relaunching FR the following week. Plus I was contacted by the above mentioned Independent journalist wanting to do a feature.

It felt right to have a look and make a comment (although the Independent article in hindsight was probably a mistake) So I made contact and rudely invited myself over to have a nose.

I suppose I was expecting some dingy little setup (because thats how we ran it) trying to relaunch and take on Facebook - which lets face it would be suicide.

What I encountered was actually a breath of fresh air. 

Lets start with the company - the building they have refurbished was probably one of the best work environments Ive ever experienced. Beautiful building with lovely murals and even a Dennis The Menace drawn sneakily into the ceiling (they own The Beano too)

The people - ok I still have friends there but the welcome and general passion and enthusiasm of Chris and Matt at the helm was a fantastic change from some of the Shoreditch stereotypes I encounter (Don't worry I am not talking about you reader - honest)

And the site itself - to have a go and relaunch a failing brand in such a new niche product is risky but very brave. Whether it works for them or not I don't know, but I really feel FriendsReunited is in a good home and deserves a new lease of life that they are going for.  The amount of press it generated shows the brand itself is still valuable. I have nothing but praise so good luck and best wishes to them all.

So, this isn't a rant for once, and all you negative fuckers should just give it a chance for once. Damn, shit, bugger - I've sworn again.

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