There were reports earlier today that AOL had sold Bebo. The trouble was, no-one had confirmation. Mashable said they had “sources” but no confirmation. Thus lots of other blogs and media outlets simply re-reported this report, repeating the ‘no confirmation’. Business Insider is even going on a (now deleted!) tweet from a WSJ reporter that Bebo has been sold to Criterion Capital Partners, a hedge fund.
So, I have contacted AOL in the UK. The response? AOL’s press people here are not responding to calls, email or SMS on this issue. In other words, either the story is wrong – but usually AOL would be the first to point that out – or it’s fare to say that a deal has been reached, but they just haven’t issued a press release yet.
The struggling social network has been on the block since AOL said it would either the shut the site by the end of May or just shut it down. It was a write-off.
AOL bought Bebo for $850 million in 2008 but proceeded to ignore its investment and starve it of developers, even as Facebook and others double-down on development. This is despite the fact that Bebo was actually built by quintessential hacker/entrepreneur, Michael Birch.
Criterion Capital Partners is a hedge fund with less than a $1 billion under management, so we can be sure Bebo didn’t exactly sell for anywhere near its old price.
Since everyone else is speculating, let’s call it $1? Leave your guestimates below.