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Classmates.com Parent United Online Acquires School-Focused Friend Finder SchoolFeed

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SchoolFeed, the rapidly growing networking service from former co-founder and CEO of RockYou Lance Tokuda, has been acquired. In a not too surprising twist, the company, which leveraged Facebook to offer users an easier way to connect with former classmates, has been snapped up by Seattle-based Memory Lane – which is better known as the folks behind Classmates.com.

Memory Lane is a subsidiary of United Online, a company operating a number of social networking services, including Memory Lane, Classmates.com and European-focused StayFriends, but also runs businesses in other verticals including floral services FTD and Interflora as well as internet access providers NetZero, Juno and NetZero Wireless.

In March, when TechCrunch covered Schoolfeed’s new feature which let you mail in your yearbook to have it scanned and uploaded to the service, the company said that it had reached 10 million users. The biggest draw to schoolfeed was how it improved on Facebook’s People Search feature with tweaks that made it better for connecting with old high school or college friends than Facebook itself. For example, schoolFeed let you search by high school class year, which Facebook did not. And it was especially useful for those in older generations, whose friendships and social graph weren’t documented on Facebook from the get-go.

Today, schoolFeed says it has been growing at approximately 100,000 new registrations per day on average over the past three months, and now has an install base of 19 million registered members. Tokuda and the other schoolFeed team members will join Memory Lane upon the deal’s closing.

According to statements from the United Online CEO Mark Goldston, the acquisition was made in the  hopes that it “will create an opportunity for Classmates to have a leading position on Facebook, he said. “It should also provide an opportunity for both schoolFeed members and Classmates.com members to reconnect and interact with an even larger number of people from their high schools,” he added.

Classmates, which was bought by United Online in 2004, dropped its IPO plans back in 2007. Its best-case scenario for future success is to find opportunity within the school-friends niche within Facebook (and yes, by leveraging Facebook) as opposed to fighting the social networking giant head-on. Currently, Classmates has 55 million registered users, 25,000 high schools and has digitized over 130,000 high school yearbooks itself.

One day, I might even be able to forgive Classmates for lying about how many people were looking for me. (Answer: zero), but that day hasn’t arrived yet.