NBC may buy Tribe.net

Rumors are being spread (by Rafat Ali and Susan Mernit) that NBC is buying social networking site Tribe.net. Ali estimates the sale at $50 million or less and says that the media company will use Tribe to power the low-tech women’s networking site iVillage, which it acquired earlier this year for $600 million.

Update: ClickZ story now un-confirms the above, reporting that the deal is in fact not complete and the likely price is far lower than Ali’s guess. See comments below for more.

Tribe received funding from the Washington Post and Knight Ridder earlier this year. Critics allege that its user base has failed to grow substantially beyond its San Francisco core.

It seems a bit of a strange move to me, but I suppose when you’re NBC it couldn’t hurt to throw some pocket change at an established technology and focus on integrating it rather than taking the time to build your own. Goodness knows a media company can’t be without a social networking site or two these days! Good for Tribe getting some money before this kind of technology hits absolute commodity status. Great scoop by Valleywag on this last week.