Saturday, 10 November 2012

How I invented Friends Reunited and other bonkers conspiracy theories

Just occassionally, I see something that makes me laugh. One of the problems with success is that it breeds jealousy and greed. Although I am financially comfortable, I am not someone who has enough money to ever spark any sort of bonkers claims about "who's idea Mill Hill Music Complex was".

I do however have a few friends who are in that position. One of them is Steve Pankhurst, who set up the Freinds Reunited website in 2000 and flogged it to ITV for gazillions of pounds in 2005. When I say Steve is a friend, we've known each other since school. Both Steve and his brother Neil were in bands at Orange Hill Senior High School. As I was also in a band, we had something in common and would occasionally hvae a chat about music. Steve is a couple of years younger than me, so we were not close mates and I knew Neil, his brother far better.

Until recently I hadn't seen Steve since the early 1980's. I had bumped into him a couple of years after I'd left school.. At the time I was working for a computer company, which I'd got through a Government sponsored TOPS course, as I needed to finance my musical career. We exchanged a few pleasantries and I told him that if ever he was stuck for a job, checkout the TOPS courses ad they were a good way into a career with computers (I used to tell everyone the same thing). I asked him to say hello to his brother. I remembered the conversation, because his brother was into electronic music, which was hot at the time and I wanted to have a chat with him about a piece of gear he'd bought. At the time I was keeping a yearly diary (something I stopped shortly after when a girlfriend read it and went bonkers). I was rereading it recently and I saw the note about the meeting.

In about 2004, when Friends Reunited was the hot internet site, I joked that it was all my doing, because I'd told Steve to do a TOPS course and get a job in IT back in the early 1980's. I very much doubt that there is any truth at all in that, but I always got a bit of a laugh out of the story. As it happens, I was chuffed that someone I knew had done so well. He's a nice bloke and I wish him well.

What is not so funny is the fact that someone who seemingly has an even more tenuous claim to have invented "Friends Reunited" than me has been harrassing Steve for the last few years. It seems to be getting to Steve and he's decided to put the record straight on his blog - - and it is a sorry old tale. The people making the claim seem to have failed to do their homework. They claim they had the idea the month after Steve and his team launched the site.

As far as I'm concerned it is obvious that there is no case to answer. If there was, there would have been a court case by now. There is a large amount of money at stake so it is clear no one who has looked properly at the case will touch it with a bargepole.

Steve and his brother Neil came along to the Premiere of Barnet - The Billion Pound Gamble. He bought me a beer. I reckon that probably repays the debt for my contribution to the project back in the early 1980's ;^)

1 comment:

baarnett said...

Good for them.

And ITV made a substantial loss when they sold Friends United, some years later. (I assume the profits ITV made in the interim still made it a disastrous investment.)