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What Will Become of Bebo Under AOL?

Henry Elliss
Henry Elliss
Managing Director
14 March 2008

200pxaol_logo_2As you’ll have seen from the newspapers today and yesterday, AOL have just snapped up social networking site Bebo for the bargain price of $850 million. But what will become of Bebo under the helm of the internet giant that has a penchant for buying smaller companies? Let’s look at some of the other websites or companies AOL has bought in the past, and see what became of them…

  • Ubique maker of Virtual Places – bought in September 1995…. eventually abandoned by AOL in favour of other chat programs, due to the difficulty of controlling avatars.
  • The CompuServe ISP – bought in February 1998… most members at the time (including me!) agreed that the service went down hill shortly after, and by 2007 AOL had ceased supporting the platforum and recommended users move over to AOL instead.
  • Netscape web browser, purchased in March 1999… lived on until the present day, though as Christmas 2007 passed AOL announced that they would cease to produce updates to the browser in March 2008.
  • Moviefone, the cinema listings company – bought late 1999, still running today though it was partially sold to MovieTickets.com in 2004.
  • Mapquest the map software – bought in July 2000, and amazingly still going strongly today.
  • Singingfish, an audio/video search engine – bought in late 2003… dramatically downsized under AOL until it was finally closed down in 2007 and redirected to AOL video.
  • Advertising.com, the advertising agency – bought in August 2004, still going strong today.
  • The Buy.at affiliate network, bought last month (Feb 2008) – might be a bit early to look at how this is fairing to be honest!

Bebo_logo Looking at those examples (and there are many more to be seen), it looks like the future is uncertain for Bebo. It’s arguably the most high-profile purchase by AOL so far in terms of user-base, so we’ll have to see what they decide to do with it in the next few months.

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