AOL Buys Social Network Bebo for $850M

AOL acquiring BeboAOL will buy Facebook competitor Bebo for $850 million cash. Combining social network Bebo’s estimated 40 million users with AIM and ICQ will boost AOL’s social media reach to 80 million users worldwide.

Google had reportedly been in talks to acquire to acquire Bebo to bolster its Orkut social search engine.

The deal comes on the heels of AOL’s launch of Open AIM 2.0, which enables developers to utilize the popular instant messaging client for third party sites and applications. Apple also recently announced a downloadable AIM application for the iPhone.

Like other search engines, AOL has been making several strategic moves in an attempt to position itself as a leader in digital media and marketing. The company spent nearly $1 billion building Platform-A, a top display ad serving network focused on helping marketers build brands that perform online. In the process it has acquired ADTECH,, Lightningcast, Quigo, TACODA and Third Screen Media.

Still, the future of AOL remains uncertain. Rumors of an acquisition by Disney were squelched by Robert Iger yesterday. Parent company Time Warner is open to a sale or spinoff, including a partnership with Yahoo Last week, it was widely reported that Yahoo and AOL were in talks, as part of Yahoo’s delaying/avoidance strategy in the wake of Microsoft’s unsolicited offer for the Sunnyvale search engine.

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