By the end of its first year it had 3,000 users, an impressive total for a kitchen-counter operation but hardly enough to take the world by storm.

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.

Pankhurst and his wife Julie, who he credited with the original idea, earned an estimated £30 million from selling the site in 2005.

And I feel like I am the right person to do it."In a separate email to those still signed-up to the website, and posted online by Adam Tinworth, the founder said that Friends Reunited still had people using it but it wasn't worth running anymore.

"The site is still used by a handful of members however it has become clear that the site is no longer really used for the purpose it was built for," users were told. Pankhurst launched the website in 2000 from the spare bedroom of his home, along with wife Julie.

“I describe this period as both the best and worst of my life,” says Pankhurst.

“On the positive side the site just didn’t stop growing and revenue was flowing — and we were having a fantastic time being interviewed on TV and radio nearly every other day.

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In 2009 the website was sold to DC Thomson for just £25 million.

Then, in 2012, Friends Reunited was rebooted as "memory box".

And, unusually for an internet business of the era, it was profitable.