Bebo will be sold or shut down by May admits AOL – we're not surprised

AOL is giving notice that it will make its annual filing for Bebo in the UK with Companies House tomorrow. That filing will show that the online giant is looking at a “sale or shutdown of Bebo in 2010”, a property it bought in 2008 for $850m.

In a message sent to employees today, the company said:

“The strategy we set in May 2009 leverages our core strengths and scale in quality content, premium advertising and consumer applications, positioning us for the next phase of growth of the Internet. As we evaluate our portfolio of brands against our strategy, it is clear that social networking is a space with heavy competition, and where scale defines success. Bebo, unfortunately, is a business that has been declining and, as a result, would require significant investment in order to compete in the competitive social networking space. AOL is not in a position at this time to further fund and support Bebo in pursuing a turnaround in social networking. AOL is committed to working quickly to determine if there are any interested parties for Bebo and the company’s current expectation is to complete our strategic evaluation by the end of May 2010.”

I’m afraid to say, we told you so, although admittedly it took a year longer than we predicted.

Bebo says it has 40 people worldwide and “a small number in transition across Europe.”

Certainly, Bebo’s London office looks more like the Marie Celeste than the hub of a humming social network. We’re told there are barely five people left, if that.