Bebo, the once high-flying social network, is getting ready to be sold – again! This would be the third time the company started by Michael Birch and Xochi Birch is getting buyer attention.
Bebo, which at one time competed with Myspace (s nws), was first acquired by AOL (then owned by Time Warner (s TWX)) in March 2008 for $850 million, making the Birches rich beyond belief. Of course, the deal brought down a handful of Time Warner/AOL executives, including AOL CEO Randy Falco and AOL President and COO Ron Grant.
AOL’s new chief executive, Tim Armstrong, realizing the futility of fighting a losing battle with Facebook, the current darling of social networking set, decided it was time to cut his losses. In June 2010, Bebo was sold for less than $10 million to Criterion Captial Partners, an investment company based in Los Angeles. Adam Levin, the man behind Criterion, brought in Akash Garg, formerly CTO of social networking also-ran Hi5, as CTO and Microsoft-ie (s msft) Kevin Bachus, the co-creator of the Xbox, as its chief product officer for the equivalent of the web’s ultimate fixer-upper.
Fast-forward to today, and Bebo is ready to be sold for the third time, with the price pegged at somewhere between $20 million to $25 million. Who are the buyers? Two of my sources have said it’s a large media company looking to goose its web presence. In recent weeks, many buyers have come knocking on Bebo’s door, my sources tell me. A Bebo company spokesperson declined to comment.
Large media companies such as Disney (s DIS) and Bertelsmann could use Bebo to boost their efforts in social gaming; after all, that’s the new form of entertainment. Despite a decline in fortunes, the site is said to have around 110 million monthly visitors, enough for someone looking to give their web fortunes a boost. Stay tuned for more details on buyers.
Traffic Data source: Compete.com
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