SHANGHAI Dec 4 Friendster, one of the world's
earliest social networking sites, will be sold to an Asian buyer
by the end of December for at least $100 million, a source
familiar with the matter said.
Friendster, which predates Facebook and MySpace in the social
networking space was founded in 2002. But it quickly lost ground
to other social networking sites in the United States. Friendster
is now mostly used in Asia where more than half of its registered
100 million users are from.
Headquartered in California, Friendster had turned down a $30
million buyout offer from Google Inc (GOOG.O) six years ago,
according to newspaper reports.
Friendster will be sold to an Asian listed firm for more than
$100 million in a deal set to be announced by the end of the
month, said a source who declined to be identified as the
information was not yet public. TechCrunch, an industry blog,
said in July it valued Friendster at $210 million.
Friendster chief executive Richard Kimber told Reuters the
majority of suitors for the firm were Asian buyers.
"We have a shortlist at this point that we are negotiating
with," Kimber said. Morgan Stanley has been hired to handle the
deal, Kimber said.
Tencent Holdings (0700.HK), China's largest Internet firm by
market value at $35 billion, was among the short-listed bidders,
while Facebook also showed interest but was turned down due to
competition and intellectual property issues, the source said.
Friendster holds five U.S. patents related to social
networking according to the United States Patents and Trademarks
(Reporting by Melanie Lee; Editing by Anshuman Daga)