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Friends Reunited goes free

PRESS RELEASE ~ 18th June 2008

Friends Reunited goes free and flicks on the social networking switch

FriendsReunited.co.nz, formerly FindaKiwi.co.nz has dropped subscription fees and added a range of social networking tools, allowing its 19 million worldwide members to interact more frequently and free of charge. The new features offer a grown-up take on social networking, meaning members can now stay in touch and be better connected with all their friends, not just their old ones, in an environment that they know and trust. The website has replaced its membership fees with revenue from advertising and will take the idea of social networking into the true mainstream for the over 30s.

The new features include a tool to create an interactive personal timeline of what's happening in members' lives and connect these events to the friends who shared them. There are also all the popular elements of social networks, including friends lists, online photo albums and a personalised homepage showing friends' news. Enhanced privacy controls will let members control who sees which parts of their profile page.

Under the subscription model almost 9 out of 10 messages that were written weren't actually sent. The removal of the fee will give members complete freedom to communicate.

Vicki Dawson, Head of Friends Reunited New Zealand, commented: "Our members have told us the time is right to make these changes and this is a natural evolution. We have always seen the importance of shared experiences in forming friendships. We're just expanding our view, from past shared experiences, like school days or a job, to the present and future. With the Timeline, we want to make it easy and fun for our members to link their friendships to a story of their life and have a conversation around these events, however big or small they might be. That's what true friendships are built on.

"Ignoring all the hype around social networking, the simple fact is these tools can make friendships stronger and keep friends more involved in each others' lives. Social networking is still not mainstream for the over 30s and we can change that. We've the scale and, importantly, eight years of trust, content and relationships. These are just the first of many new features we'll be adding this year. We're just flicking the switch and turning this on; it's going to be like smashing down the dam after years of holding the water back."

"This is a fantastic opportunity for us to leverage the valuable heritage of Friends Reunited and move the business into exciting new territory. Friends Reunited is a uniquely trusted online brand and taking the site free allows our 19 million members to experience social networking in an environment in which they are comfortable and confident.

Friends Reunited is ensuring that the site's new features are advertiser-friendly from the ground up. As well as encouraging more frequent use, the great thing for advertisers is that the members' life narratives let us understand life stage, personal circumstances and topical context.

The new, more sociable Friends Reunited will now be automatically available to all new and existing members. It will continue to run alongside Genes Reunited, New Zealand's no.1 family history site, and Friends Reunited Dating. Both of these sites will retain their existing subscription models.

About Friends Reunited Friends Reunited New Zealand - www.FriendsReunited.co.nz, formerly FindaKiwi.co.nz has over 19 million members worldwide. It was launched in 2000 as a back-bedroom hobby to put old school friends back in touch with each other. In April 2008 it dropped its subscription charge and evolved into an interactive social networking site for grown-ups.

ENDS


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