Nerds Mourn Passing of Social Network that Isn't Facebook and Isn't Even Dead

Nell Jensen · 01/30/12 08:56PM

What is a "Bebo?" Is it a) a new Internet nickname for Justin Bieber (my first guess) or b) a social network you have never heard of as a result of its stint as an AOL property that was sold at an $840 million loss? According to a lot of unexpected weeping on Twitter, it's the second of these two things. The site unceremoniously went dark and left everybody (including the site's original co-founder) confused about what had happened for several hours before a seemingly drunk company spokesman got around to clarifying that the actual problem was, ahem, "a technical clusterfuck."

AOL's Epically Embarrassing 'Value Destruction'

Ryan Tate · 06/16/10 07:12PM

After paying $850 million for Bebo in 2008, AOL is said to be selling the social network for $10 million or less. So, in barely two years, a near-billion-dollar deal imploded.


Alaska Miller · 10/23/08 06:40PM

Did you copy an existing popular website and sell it off to a big corporation too dumb to realize what's going on? Twice? Xochi Birch did, first with Ringo and then Bebo. Today's featured commenter, Antilles_Prime, explains the kudos she's earned:

Bebo founder admits her fortune came from ripoffs

Owen Thomas · 10/23/08 02:00PM

Imitation is the sincerest form of getting rich. MySpace got bought early, on the cheap; Facebook has yet to cash out. Michael and Xochi Birch's sale of Bebo, a social network more popular overseas than in the U.S., to AOL for $850 million has been the best social-network cashout to date. And how did they manage it? Shamelessly copying other sites, Xochi Birch admits to the BBC.Ringo, their first social site, was an unabashed copy of Friendster. The husband-and-wife team sold that off to Monster, the job-listings site, for a pittance — but a pittance that provided the seed funding for Bebo, which Xochi openly says was inspired by MySpace. Copy early, copy often, sell out. (Photo by Auren Hoffman)

5 social networks Yahoo couldn't befriend

Nicholas Carlson · 08/29/08 03:00PM

The soon-to-be-shuttered Yahoo Mash is not Yahoo's first failed social network. It's also not its second, third, or fourth. It took one whole hand for us to count Big Purple's failed attempts to get social, either through mergers or in-house development, below.

Science says poking won't make you more slutty

Melissa Gira Grant · 08/27/08 04:20PM

Using social networks to find sex only make kids these days look sluttier. The reality? A new study of 2,000 MySpace, Facebook, and Bebo users aged 16 to 24 finds they're not happy about the reputation. A full 69 percent believe the media portray them unfairly as "sex maniacs." Those surveyed will be happy with the study's results:It shows that, yes, kids today are using posts and pokes to flirt, but they're also using social networking sites to share sex ed with each other. What's not to like about a new generation of honest, well-informed sluts? And with 93 percent using social-network communities regularly, at least they're faithful to the sites that bring them together.

Barely legal billionaires insist there's tons more money to be made

Jackson West · 08/22/08 05:20PM

21-year-old billionaires in the making? To tell the truth, the youngest Forbes has come up with in the past decade was Elon Musk at 27. That was back in 1998, with only $22 million. Musk's face is more lined, but he still isn't a billionaire, even after cashing out from PayPal's sale to eBay. Forbes at least has some standards — only reason I can imagine Zuckerberg isn't in the piece is because his share of Facebook's valuation is still mostly theoretical. As for Bebo's Michael and Xochi Birch? They're back to their birthday announcement and e-card concern, not content with a cabin in the hills at all. (Photo by Ryan Anson/Bloomberg News/Landov)

Worldwide visitors to Facebook up 153 percent in a year

Nicholas Carlson · 08/12/08 12:20PM

Metrics firm ComScore reports that 132 million unique visitors logged onto Facebook in June 2008, up from just 52 million in June 2007. 117 million worldwide users visited MySpace during June 2008. Its Facebook's first definitive traffic victory, from a source advertisers actually pay attention to, over MySpace. Way down on the list at No. 6 — past the fast-growing Hi5, past still-kicking Friendster — there's AOL CEO Randy Falco's $850 million social network, Bebo, which saw 24 million visitors in June.

Vogue's new reality show hopes to bedazzle the Internet

Jackson West · 07/17/08 05:00PM

Every print publisher, and especially the glossies, want in on the online-video game. Unlike the text-and-photos Web, where there are more pageviews than media buyers know what to do with, there's not enough slickly packaged content that big brands deem safe enough to advertise themselves on. Condé Nast's Vogue has a new reality show for the Web, Model.Live, which "tracks three models as they navigate casting calls, catwalks and airports for fashion weeks in New York, London, Milan and Paris." It debuts August 19. What you won't see? Drinking and smoking. What you will see? Eating disorders confronted "head-on." That's because this an attempt to reach out to a younger demographic on behalf of the sponsor, aspirational mall brand Express — which sells American women the sequined, screen-printed jeans they love. What's all this going to cost Express?

British gossips may lose access to juicy stories sourced from Bebo, Facebook

Jackson West · 07/14/08 10:40AM

Amanda Hudson allowed teenage daughter Jodie Hudson to throw a birthday bash at the British family's £4.4 million ($8.7 million) villa in Spain, but when pictures like this of underage drinkers passed out on the floor and accounts of stolen jewelry appeared in Blighty tabloids, the elder Hudson brought suit, alleging defamation under the U.K.'s strict libel laws. The fishwraps will hide behind local "fair comment" provisions, which indemnifies the retellers of factual accounts — the problem is, the accounts posted by daughter Jodie and friends to social networks like Bebo and Facebook may have been less than strictly factual. And, of course, the photos are protected under copyright provisions. Which may mean that British hacks might have to factcheck anything gleaned from websites. I can only hope this is one legal precedent that they don't export to the colonies.

AOL can guarantee your widget 0.04 cents per pageview

Nicholas Carlson · 06/30/08 11:20AM

For the makers of widgets, those annoy-your-friends applications littering social networks, it's fractions of pennies from heaven: AOL ad network Platform-A has promised Facebook and Bebo widget developers that it can guarantee them "one of the industry’s highest" CPM — cost per thousand pageviews — rates if they sign up for its Widgnet publisher network. A Platform-A source says widgetmakers will get about 40 cents per thousand pageviews. Which is, of course, terrible. "Most [widgetmakers] won't sniff $1 CPMs," AdWeek's Brian Morrissey snarks.(Photo by MrVJTod)

Fretful developers aside, the competition knows Facebook is the widget platform that matters

Nicholas Carlson · 06/19/08 03:00PM

Developers upset with Facebook's antiviral measures tell us enthusiasm for Facebook's platform is waning. Nonsense, says Steve Cohen, the head of platform engineering at Facebook rival Bebo. Earlier this year, Cohen built a platform for Bebo that was entirely compatible with apps built for Facebook. Cohen told Silicon Alley Insider that Bebo's big worry right now isn't that Facebook's redesign will kill developer enthusiam for the shared platform, but that a new Facebook platform will leave Bebo a step behind. Said Cohen: “Facebook really threw a monkey wrench in the whole compatibility thing. If we’re not compatible with Facebook, no one is going to develop for our platform.”

Bewkes to shareholder: Just pretend Bebo is MySpace

Nicholas Carlson · 06/10/08 11:40AM

Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes's oops-did-I-Bebo-that tour continues. Yesterday at the Deutsche Bank Media & Telecom conference, a shareholder asked Bewkes how $850 million for a third-place social network jibed with Bewkes's claim that disciplined capital allocation is a key priority for Time Warner. According to PaidContent, Bewkes said, “We did make a bit of a stretch." He then tried to reassure the worried shareholder saying, it was the “same thing when News Corp. bought MySpace.”

Michael Birch's first social networking sellout a blowout

Owen Thomas · 06/03/08 04:40PM

In 2003, social networking was not yet faddish. Michael Birch sold his self-admitted Friendster clone, Ringo, to online dating site Tickle for a pittance. He came to see that as a mistake, and went on to found Bebo, which he sold to AOL for a giggle-inducing $850 million. A cautionary tale for AOL: Tickle, now a unit of online jobs site Monster, laid off most of its employees in April, and informed its users by email over the weekend that Ringo was shutting down for good. (Photo by Michael Birch)