AOL: No Takers? What if we Buy Bebo?

Tumbling internet super-company AOL has just announced that it has acquired social network Bebo for a cool $850 million in cash. Although rumors of a Bebo sale have come and gone in recent months, few could have predicted that AOL would be the buyer as it seeks out an acquisition of its own. The Bebo deal is aimed at expanding AOL’s international presence, a task that has been at the forefront of many moves of late. Recognizing that a resurgence in US popularity is unlikely at best, AOL launched many international sites in 2007 and has clearly stated that it will continue to further its global expansion in 2008. Acquiring Bebo is of course a huge step in this uphill climb as the popular social network’s audience is primarily located in the UK, Ireland, and New Zealand. AOL chairman and CEO Randy Falco states, “What drew us to Bebo was its substantial and fast-growing worldwide user-base, its vision of a truly social web, and the monetization opportunities. This positions us to offer advertisers even greater reach and marketers significant insights into the desires and needs of consumers.” AOL got a nice discount on the rumored $1 billion that was being reported as the figure Bebo and its 40 million-member network would go for. Only time will tell if this move, which should be completed within a month according to AOL’s president and COO Ron Grant, will be the kindling the company needs to raise interest and instigate an acquisition.


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