AOL sells Bebo 'for just $10m'


AOL has sold Bebo to privately owned investment firm for an undisclosed sum, just two years after buying the social networking site. Criterion Capital Partners, a private investment firm, announced that it had bought the business, but did not disclosure the amount paid.

However, analysts suspect it to be just a fraction of the price of $850m (then £417m) paid by AOL in 2008. Bloomberg BusinessWeek quotes 'a person familiar with the deal' as saying Criterion payed less than $10 million to buy Bebo from AOL. Teen-focussed Bebo has struggled to compete against social networking rivals such as Facebook and Twitter.

Earlier this year, AOL announced plans to sell or shut down Bebo because it was unable to provide the "significant investment" needed to prevent its decline as a business.

The move comes as AOL looks to shed loss-making divisions that it considers will not make a significant contribution as it focuses on content, advertising and consumer services.

AOL spun off from its parent company Time Warner in December last year.

Bebo’s UK office, based in central London, closed earlier this year after all 30 employees were either made redundant or have since taken the redundancy package.

Bebo’s UK user figures had dropped from nearly 40 million per month worldwide, to just 12 million as of February 2010.

The British couple who started the site for just £8,000, Michael Birch and his wife Xochi, made £300million when they sold Bebo to AOL two years ago.

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