Sunday, February 23, 2014

Friends Again

A couple of years ago I was invited to take a look at the new version of FriendsReunited – a pivot from it’s original form of finding old school friends into more of a picture memory board. I wrote about it here - The current owners of the site are DCT Thompson and what nice people they are.

It was a brave and tough thing to do with the site. Since then I must admit I haven’t used the site, or the sister service that I created back in 2002, GenesReunited. Since selling both websites back in 2005 it has felt a bit like a separation and having spent so much of my life involved with them, I needed time apart.

But over the past 8 years I also have had many ideas along the FR/GR line – some I have even dabbled with at trying, but only really half heartedly.

Then  a few months ago I was invited in again into the offices of DC Thompson in Shoreditch. A new CEO was on board and had decided to concentrate the business on family history. FriendsReunited was being either put out to pasture or was to be “reincubated”. I was being asked if I fancied being involved in that reincubation.

My initial reaction – no chance.  But then over the following weeks a few ideas started to take shape in my head. I tested them out of friends and family. I met up with my old business partner at FriendsReunited, Jason, and he too was interested.

We started formulating them into a proper site and plan. We were then invited to present them to DCT Thompsom. They liked them – everything fitted so nicely into the old site and even their genealogy sites.

So we have now completed a joint venture for me and Jason to take back control of FriendsReunited. The first job was to put FR back to it’s old format – a way to find old school friends – that is already live. 

The next step is to write the new service – details of this will emerge in the coming weeks. And we are doing it all old school (no pun intended) – the way Jason and I used to work – cheaply and quickly. People keep telling me you can’t do things the way we did back in 2000, so I suppose I am trying to prove it can still be done that way.

I must admit I am really excited by this new service – it’s something of a cross between Friends and Genes and it’s something I am dying to get my hands on and use. Hopefully others will too. It’s nothing unique, has been done in part before, and is very simple to implement and use. We want to do it more boldly and grander in a way that really engages people. In fact we want to create a new lifestyle past time in the way that genealogy has become.

This all feels like it has all come together at the right time. I didn’t want to see FriendsReunited disappear and slowly fade away – let’s give it one more go.