in the U.S. remains a lesser known name in the social networking
scene. Internationally, though, particularly in the United Kingdom, the
network vies for the number one spot. Its interface looks somewhat akin
to a cleaner MySpace layout. It features user-generated TV show content,
such as the popular video blog "Kate Modern" and content from MTV and
CBS featured on an open digital platform.
The site has garnered 40 million total members. This is relatively
strong, though still lagging behind Facebook, which at last counts had 67
million members, and MySpace, which in late 2006 hit 106 million members and
has been growing since. The site does average a healthy 33 minutes per
visit, one of the best totals on the internet, and an indicator of potential ad
AOL meanwhile appears to be slowly dying. The company’s online and internet
services are being split
up into separate entities and possibly sold by owner Time Warner.
However, AOL with Time Warner's approval reached a final deal to purchase Bebo
for $850M USD. AOL hopes desperately that with the site and instant
messaging program, which remains popular, it can turn the corner and return to
growth. It thinks that it will be able to increase Bebo's user base to
around 80 million by tying it to its AIM messaging network.
AOL CEO Randy Falco states, "I've said many times that my vision for AOL
is that we become a global, market-leading ad-supported digital media company.
Today, we're taking a major step toward realizing this ambition."
The merger is a friendly one and Bebo President Joanna Shields will be staying
on as Bebo's leader. Falco states in
his open letter to his company that he believes that the move puts AOL in a
leading position in social networking.
Whether the move can salvage the train wreck that is AOL remains to be
seen. Last October, AOL cut
20 percent of its workforce. It also killed
the historically significant Netscape browser, which once was king of the
browser market. AOL had previously spent billions over the last couple
years acquiring Advertising.com and Tacoda, with little gains.
Many point out that social networks are not
as profitable as believed. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently
stated that his company was "close to breaking even" -- in other
words, it wasn't profitable. Meanwhile Google, which has a $900M USD ad
deal with MySpace, is unhappy with MySpace's ad-revenue, which was well below