Within a month we were getting five a day, and it slowly grew.” JP: “Then there were two big things.The first [in January 2001] was Steve Wright's radio show.” SP: “Someone recommended us to the Steve Wright Show on BBC Radio 2 as the website of the day.
We’d play around with bits and pieces, and it was really the advent of the internet that gave us the chance to try things out.” Steve Pankhurst: “We went freelance in the early 90s, but it was very boring, writing databases for insurance and pensions companies.
This was when the internet was really in its first boom, so we packed that job in with the idea of trying out some internet ideas.
’ 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.
We’d just written a big pension internet system, and I suppose we had the skills to do things.
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’.So here, in their own words – and those of Michael Murphy, the CEO who took it from a bedroom in Barnet to a multi-million pound brand – is the story of Friends Reunited: Jason Porter: “We met working together at Bovis Construction [now Lend Lease], way back in the day.We were programmers, [but] we always had this entrepreneurial spirit, you know, always coming up with ideas, making stuff for people.But at that point, from being very sceptical, seeing that [Classmates] had thousands of users, I thought we could do it a lot simpler and a lot better.Because of jobs and babies and things like that we didn’t get around to it until the spring of 2000.” JP: “It only took us a couple of weeks to create a basic system.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.