When AOL paid $850 million for Bebo two years ago, the deal immediately smelled rotten. Now it's looking downright putrid: AOL might write the social network off entirely.

AOL chief Tim Armstrong will go through the formality of shopping the site around before closing it, of course, but it's hard to imagine a buyer stepping forward to pick up an also-ran Facebook competitor whose business is declining. Armstrong could be forgiven for shutting down the site immediately; after al, it was his predecessor Randy Falco who went forward with the terrible deal while Armstrong was helping Google mint billions.

Bebo's shutdown will burnish the reputation of two executives, at least: Founders Michael and Xochi Birch (pictured), who sold a Friendster copyu to Monster.com before making a mint unloading a MySpace copy (that would be Bebo) on AOL. We're sure they'll be as carefree as ever in their swanky, creatively decorated Pacific Heights mansion tonight, via C Magazine:

(Top pic by Auren Hoffman)