Is Bebo Finally Dead? (Update: Not Quite)

Update: Apparently all the online grieving was over a false alarm. A Bebo spokesperson just emailed me to say that the site was down due to “a technical clusterfuck” — it’s not actually dead. He also says that the site still has a niche audience, largely in the United Kingdom, and it will be launching more products soon.

Largely forgotten social network Bebo may have shut down today.

Bebo users certainly seem to think that this is the end. The Bebo website is down, and as a result there’s a steady stream of sad tweets using the “#bebo” and “#ripbebo” hashtags. And if it’s a false alarm, the company isn’t doing much to combat that impression — the most recent posts on both the Bebo and Team Bebo Twitter accounts date from November.

Bebo co-founder (in its first incarnation) and investor (in its latest) Michael Birch also tweeted: “Am super sad that Bebo has actually gone. Some very fun times with very cool people. #RIPbebo – keep sharing that luv!” (He later corrected himself: “Hold the press (too late for that), Bebo should be coming back in a matter of hours. #LongLiveBebo”)

You probably haven’t heard anything about Bebo lately, but you may remember that AOL (which, of course, currently owns TechCrunch) acquired the site for $850 million back in 2008. AOL never really figured out what to do with the site, and eventually sold it to Criterion Capital Partners for less than $10 million.

After that, there were signs that things might start picking up — Xbox co-creator Kevin Bachus joined as chief productive officer, and Birch, one of Bebo’s original co-founders, invested in the new company. There was a redesign, too. There weren’t, however, any obvious signs that Bebo was gaining real momentum, and the company has been silent for the past few months.