AOL has entered into an agreement to acquire Bebo, a leading global social media network. Together with its AIM and ICQ personal communication networks, AOL is hopeful that this recent acquisition will give them a much-needed boost in world of social media.
With a network of approximately 80 million unique users and a total membership of more than 40 million worldwide, Bebo is a global social media network that combines community, self-expression and entertainment that lets its users consume, create, discover and share content. The deal comes just one week after AOL’s launch of Open AIM 2.0, an initiative that allows the developer community greater freedom to access the AIM network and integrate AIM into its sites and applications, and the announcement by Apple of a downloadable AIM application for the iPhone.
Bebo's "fast-growing worldwide user-base" as well as its commitment to the social web make it an attractive partner. Seeking to leverage the ever-increasing power of social networks, AOL looks to Bebo to help accelerate "the growth, engagement and monetization" of their self-proclaimed "world’s most engaged online communities”.
In addition, Bebo's commitment to developer technology offers promising possibilities; in December 2007, Bebo opened its platform to external application developers becoming the first social network to embrace both Facebook and OpenSocial APIs, with more than 1500 applications having joined the network.
Say what you will about the future of social networking, whether it's reached its peak or it's just finding it's groove, but eMarketer predicts that by 2011, $4.1 billion will be spent worldwide for social networkadvertising – a dramatic increase from the $480 million spent in 2006. With such a projection, you can understand AOL's impetus to merge and acquire.
In recent months, AOL has worked to improve its position in areas critical to being a leading advertising-supported Web media and marketing company. Spending nearly $1 billion on online advertising acquisitions and launching 17 international web sites over the last year, AOL still plans to expand to 30 countries outside the U.S. by the end of 2008.
With Bebo in tow, AOL continues to prove their dedication to implementing Web 2.0 technologies to help them evolve alongside.