NEWS17 June 2010

AOL sells Bebo for a song

M&A North America

US— AOL has found a buyer for Bebo, the youth-centric social network it put up for sale earlier this year.

Terms of the deal with Criterion Capital Partners (CCP), a merchant banking and financial advisory firm, have not been disclosed, but press reports peg the price as low as $10m – a fraction of the $850m AOL paid for the business in March 2008.

At the time of the acquisition AOL’s then chairman and CEO Randy Falco said that the deal would allow the firm to “offer advertisers greater reach and marketers significant insights into the desires and needs of consumers”.

Two years later, however, John Brod of AOL Ventures was emailing staff to inform them that: “Bebo, unfortunately, is a business that has been declining and, as a result, would require significant investment in the competitive social networking space” – something the company was not prepared to do.