AOL announced today that they have acquired the social network Bebo for a reported $850 million. It is reported that AOL sent out an email to all its employees telling them the great news. There were rumors and speculations going around that there were talks between Bebo and others to sell the company, and although many others passed (Google, Microsoft, Newscorp to name a few) on the offer, AOL was the winning bid.
In a statement by AOL, they said that their main motive behind this major acquisition is to integrate their AIM newtwork into an existing social network. “Layering in Bebo,” they say, “lets people communicate both synchronously and asynchronously. The goal is to allow people to both express themselves and extend existing relationships. AIM users have 100 buddies on average. Bebo’s platform allows those users to share and distribute media as well.” This seems like a good idea to me: layer a preexisting social networking utility on top of a preexisting social network to let people share even more.
According to Michael Arrington, Joanna Shields (President of Bebo) will continue to run the company while the two founders are soon leaving the company. I can’t say I wouldn’t do the same thing in their position … the company was started with one round of funding in which they raised $15 million. That’s a pretty healthy return on investment.
Best of luck to AOL/Bebo! What do you think about this acquisition?