MyLife

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"Reunion.com" redirects here. For other uses, see Reunion (disambiguation).
For other uses of My Life, see My Life.
MyLife.com
Type Social network
Headquarters Santa Monica, California
Key people Jeff Tinsley CEO
Owners Privately held
Website www.MyLife.com

MyLife.com is a website founded by Internet entrepreneur Jeffrey Tinsley. Originally launched in 2002 as Reunion.com, the company began with the acquisition of highschoolalumni.com and PlanetAlumni.com.[1] The website claims to help its 60 million registered members aggregate their email and social networking accounts in one place, find personal and work connections they’re missing, and manage their web presence[clarification needed].[citation needed] The site's services include: Social Dashboard, People Search, Who's Searching for You®, Public Record Remover and QuickMatch Singles.

In August 2007, Reunion.com claimed to be the 6th top social networking site with 28 million users, growing by nearly 1 million new members each month,[2] mostly in the United States and Canada. In 2013, it was listed as the 18th most popular social networking site by registered users.

Quantcast estimates MyLife has 617,000 monthly unique U.S. visits.[3] Alexa's global traffic rank for MyLife is 3,630; its US rank is 1,010; and its daily global traffic has declined by 21% in the last three months.[4]

On April 30, 2007 Reunion.com announced that it had signed an agreement with Wink to provide Wink's people profiles (from on-line social networks and other sources on the web) to Reunion's members. Then on August 20, 2007 Reunion.com announced an agreement with ZoomInfo to provide ZoomInfo's business related people profiles to Reunion.com members.

Privacy[edit]

Although member privacy is protected through a blind relay e-mail system that prevents e-mail addresses and contact information from being revealed, it is possible to allow Reunion to access email addresses stored on a computer upon registration. These e-mail addresses were at one time used to solicit more members, but this practice has since ceased. Public record information is also displayed such as names, addresses and associated family members, with the intent of facilitating new connections among its members.[5]

At one time, upon requesting removal of your information the company would block your IP address from returning any searches. People would receive an error that stated "Http/1.1 Service Unavailable," but your information was still visible to any other user that searched for your name. This issue has been remedied and all profile removals are now completed per users’ requests.

As stated in MyLife.com's privacy policy, information about people can be collected by voluntary submission or through functions like Facebook Connect. The policy also states that MyLife gathers information from third parties (such as marketing partners) and available public information to build an online profile. MyLife then uses this information to create "Public Profiles" of non-members on their site.[6]

E-mail spamming[edit]

When subscribing to MyLife.com, users can allow access to all email addresses stored in their e-mail accounts by way of a small link granting access. During 2008-2009 MyLife (known then as Reunion.com) used this permission to solicit more members by altering the sender address and other parts of the email header to appear as though the email originated from the person who subscribed. This practice has resulted in lawsuits against the company.[7]

As quoted in the LA Times, "Tinsley described the sending of e-mails to everyone in a person's address book as a "bulk search" for other Reunion.com members. But when pressed, he acknowledged that users aren't in fact searching for anyone when they agree to invite others to join." [8]

Scamming allegations[edit]

MyLife has been the target in a number of various lawsuits throughout the years. In a class-action lawsuit that was filed against MyLife.com in February 2011, victims claimed,

"MyLife.com is a scam that begins with a false solicitation telling potential victims that 'someone' is searching for them, and they can find out who by paying a small fee. If this ruse succeeds in convincing the victim to provide credit card or other payment information for a 'free trial period' or a low-price-membership (e.g. $7.95 per month), MyLife then overbills the victim's credit card for a much larger amount, often more than $100...[9]

MyLife.com offers information to people who sign up for their service. According to dozens of complaints from the BBB, multiple customers state they were overcharged when they first signed up for the subscription to the site (usually touted as a smaller fee).

In a 2012 news article from the Detroit Free Press, the article states that "Some consumers discovered that they were charged a non-refundable yearly subscription fee upfront when they signed up for the service based on a low monthly rate..." [10]

Ownership[edit]

MyLife, Inc. is privately owned. The original investors, making a total investment of $1.4 Million in angel financing, included Jeffrey Tinsley, former founder and CEO of GreatDomains.com and current CEO of Reunion.com; Richard Rosenblatt, co-founder, chairman and CEO of Demand Media and the former Chairman of MySpace; and Andy Mazzarella, CEO of eForce Media and former CFO of iMall.

Financing & business model[edit]

On April 16, 2007, the company announced that it received $25 Million in venture funding from Oak Investment Partners[2] in the largest series A venture financing in a social networking company to date. The percent ownership stake that Oak received for their investment has not been reported.

The company’s business model is based on user-generated content and revenue from paid subscriptions and advertising sales. 90% of the firm's revenue is from paid subscriptions.[11] The site does not permit unregistered users to view other users' personal information unless they pay for a subscription.

Profits & partnerships[edit]

According to CEO Jeffrey Tinsely, in 2008, MyLife made an estimated 52 million dollars in revenue.[12]

In 2009, Ancestry.com was reported to be an affiliated partner with MyLife.[13]

Better Business Bureau[edit]

In late 2008, complaints from customers not resolved in a satisfactory manner caused the Los Angeles Better Business Bureau to rate Reunion.com "F." After changing many of its policies and practices, the company's rating as of June 2012 was "A-."[14]

MyLife practices what the Los Angeles Better Business Bureau (BBB) calls "negative option cancellation." In this sales strategy, customers agree to pay for services unless they cancel within a specified period of time. Members are required to cancel prior to the initial anniversary date to avoid continuing annual charges to their credit cards which can be done at any time.[15]

The BBB was concerned that the company used misleading advertising practices by e-mailing customers advising them that people "may" be searching for them, and offers them to become paid members to find the identity of any people that may search for them in the future. In its FAQ section, the MyLife.com site describes this feature as follows: "'Who's Searching For You' will reveal the listed names of the specific users who have performed a search using your first and last (current or maiden) names and your age range within 5 years of your listed date of birth and is still saved in their Search History."[16]

By late 2010, the rating had gone to "A+" after the company had reportedly responded appropriately to customer complaints.[17] However, less than a year later, the rating again dropped to "F" and the company's accreditation was revoked due to advertising issues, high levels of non-response to complaints, and failure to honor its agreement with the BBB.[18]

From 2009-2012 the company closed 949 customer complaints the BBB reports. In 2011 and 2012 it was reported to be over 1,000[19][20]

Lawsuits and complaints[edit]

Class-action lawsuit[edit]

A consolidated class-action lawsuit was filed against MyLife.com in February 2011. One of the individuals cited in the complaint allegedly registered with the name of "sfsf sdgfsdgs," and then received an email from MyLife.com saying that seven people were searching for "sfsf sdgfsdgs."[21][22]

Additionally, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit reportedly signed up for one month of service for $21.95, and when he attempted to cancel, he discovered that he had been billed $155.40 instead. The individual claimed in the suit that MyLife refunded him $104.55, but refused to return the remaining $50.85.[23]

In August 2011, MyLife moved to have the case dismissed because they believed that two of the named plaintiffs were not directly solicited by the company, but U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken ruled for the case to continue.[24]

Washington State investigation[edit]

The Washington State Attorney General's Office began an investigation in 2011 stemming from concerns that MyLife.com's advertisements may have violated the state's Consumer Protection Act, which prohibits unfair and deceptive practices. This investigation was filed because of the television commercials that MyLife used to advertise. The commercials implied that viewers could find information about "who's searching for you" for free. At the time their website contradicted this message by requiring new users to pay a subscription fee for information.[25]

State officials stated that MyLife.com chose to resolve the investigation by entering into an "assurance of discontinuance" and agreeing to pay $28,000 in attorneys' costs and fees.[26]

Consumer feedback[edit]

Hundreds of frustrated customers have turned to online complaint forums, describing the MyLife site as "a total scam" and a "rip-off."[23][27] As of October 2013, there are almost 3 million results for the keywords "Reunion.com scam" and 93,000+ results for "MyLife.com scam".

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Yahoo! Finance Reunion.com, Inc. Company Profile
  2. ^ a b Business Wire, April 16, 2007 Reunion.com Receives $25M Funding From Oak Investment Partners
  3. ^ "Quantcast.com". Quantcast.com. 2013-11-15. Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  4. ^ Alexa.com, December 19, 2012 "Alexa.com"
  5. ^ [1][dead link]
  6. ^ "privacy policy". Mylife.com. Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  7. ^ Mediapost.com[dead link]
  8. ^ "Too much contact at this Reunion". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 31, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Web Scam Reborn as MyLife.com, Class Says". Courthouse News Service. Retrieved October 31, 2013. 
  10. ^ "Finding friends could be costly". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved October 31, 2013. 
  11. ^ socalTECH.com, July 22, 2008 Interview with Jeff Tinsley, Reunion.com
  12. ^ "Reunion.com And Wink Morph Into MyLife.com". TechCrunch. Retrieved October 31, 2013. 
  13. ^ ""Huge new content addition for more recent years"". Ancestry.com. Retrieved October 31, 2013. 
  14. ^ "BBB Business Review of My Life". Better Business Bureau. Retrieved June 28, 2012.  (current report; may change)
  15. ^ Reunion.com FAQ (accessed November 21, 2007) How do I turn off automatic renewal?
  16. ^ Reunion.com FAQ (accessed November 21, 2007) What is Who's Searching for You?
  17. ^ "BBB Business Review of My Life". Better Business Bureau. Retrieved November 22, 2010.  (current report; may change)
  18. ^ "BBB Business Review of My Life". Better Business Bureau. Retrieved October 20, 2011.  (current report; may change)
  19. ^ "MyLife.com Accused of Running 'Spam-and-Scam' Scheme". Dailyfinance.com. Retrieved October 31, 2013. 
  20. ^ "BBB Business Review of My Life (Page archived from 2012)". Better Business Bureau. Retrieved October 31, 2013. 
  21. ^ Abine.com, September 6, 2011 MyLife.com sued for deception: Were you duped?
  22. ^ ABCNews.com, August 19, 2011 MyLife.com: People-Searching Website Sued as 'Scam'
  23. ^ a b Erin Arvedlund's Blog, August 30, 2012 MyLife.com Makes You Pay To Find Friends, Then Makes Your Life Hell
  24. ^ Bursor.com, September 1, 2011 MyLife Fraud Class Action Withstands Bid To Dismiss
  25. ^ "Mylife.com agrees to tell consumers about charges, automatic renewal". SeattlePi. Retrieved October 31, 2013. 
  26. ^ "Washington State Challenges MyLife.com Ads". Consumeraffairs.com. October 12, 2012. 
  27. ^ "reviews". Consumeraffairs.com. Retrieved October 31, 2013. 

External links[edit]