The Fall of Bebo and The Real Value of Social Networks

7 04 2010

Just two years after being bought for £417 million ($850m), the former social network of choice for the pre-teens, Bebo is to be sold off or closed down.

To put that in context the value of the site in just five years went from zero to not far short of a billion dollars back to zero (if no buyer is found).  The reason is simple.  The pre-teens grew up and went to Facebook and the generation that followed, like the 12 year readers of Just Seventeen magazine desperate to play with the bigger kids, have gone straight to Facebook (even if that means telling a porkie pie about their d.o.b. when they set up to their accounts).  In February Facebook had 462.7 million unique users and Bebo had just 12.8 million.   “AOL is not in a position at this time to further fund and support Bebo in pursuing a turnaround in social networking” a  memo sent by the parent company to Bebo staff this week explained.

Whilst Facebook becomes more entrenched as the No 1 social network what will this mean for MySpace and other legacy networks?    We also need to understand better where the real value lies if the life cycle of a network that once generating 60 million page views a day can be so short.

Bebo was set up in Michael and Xochi Birch in January 2005.  It could close as early as May this year.

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5 responses

7 04 2010
Chris

I’m wondering What are the reasons for the falling popularity of beebo and the rising popularity of facebook ?

Freelance Developer

9 04 2010
Rob Wilmot

Nice Analysis. Which triggers another interesting point for me. Why is it that AOL seems to have an uncanny knack of buying near end of life ventures? Look at their record in the mid to late 90s with their stellar purchaces if ICQ ( the darling of the IM world, and Netscape, once the poster child of the web revolution. And that’s before we even start on about the Time Warner merger / demerger.

One wonders what they will buy next?

11 04 2010
David Clare

As more younger kids go onto Facebook there will be a demand for a social network for older people. I always liked Facebook because it was for older people, unlike MySpace, (the big social network of my teens). I think if all the Bebo-ers are heading to Facebook then it could cause a negative effect.

17 04 2010
Clare McCausland

I agree that Beboers have moved onto Facebook, but that was because Facebook offered more things for the user to do. Bebo was restrictive, whilst Facebook the kids can do “Farmville” whilst adults can still promote their businesses, campaigns, justgiving charity fundraiser, talk to peers and so on.

I was recently at a CIPR networking evening at my university and they said that the adult facebook is LinkedIn, so if Facebook gets too much like a playground that is the place to go! However, I think for PR the more people you have to communicate with is important.

17 09 2015
The Rise and Fall of Social Media Sites | JustLats

[…] public will react to any new innovations. Many companies have become overnight successes, whereas other brands have inexplicably fallen by the wayside. And as always, the race is forever on to provide users with the perfect social media […]

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