The latest rumors doing the rounds are that AOL may be planning to sell Bebo for about $200 million, less than a year after it acquired the social network for $850 million.
A recent story run on TechCrunch says that according to trusted but anonymous sources, AOL is planning to sell Bebo as its performance has been far below expectations.
Both AOL and Bebo have denied this, saying “there is no truth to this rumor”.
According to sources, when AOL bought Bebo last March, Bebo was marketed as a clever startup that was able to win over ad agencies and clients by presenting itself very well. Ad agencies convinced their clients that they must get on to Bebo, which was growing more popular by the day in the relatively new social network market.
When AOL saw this, they obviously felt that it would be a wise move to buy Bebo, and accordingly they did so on March 13 2008 for $850 million.
Time, however, proved that Bebo did not perform as well as expected. While Bebo is popular in the U.K. with 10.5 million users, its worldwide user base is just 22.6 million.
Facebook’s meteoric rise in popularity is the biggest factor contributing to Bebo’s failure. That, and the fact that singular social networks are no longer as popular as they were, due to the growing popularity of the open social platforms is partly responsible for this. The current economic climate makes the performance of the company look even poorer. While Facebook is believed to have earned $250 million last year, and MySpace much more than that, Bebo has managed only $20 million.
A spokesperson at Bebo, however, rubbishes the rumors of a possible sell off by AOL, saying that Bebo has launched a new tool, Social Inbox, just last month. It is doing very well and will allow users to read emails from various sites and also access other social services like Twitter and Flickr. It will also integrate AOL’s instant messaging service. AOL is also reportedly planning further expansion with Bebo.
Only time will tell whether the rumors turn out to be true or not.