AOL has completed its acquisition of Bebo, a global social media network that will form the centerpiece of AOL’s newly created “People Networks” unit. Bebo’s CEO Joanna Shields will serve as EVP of AOL and President of People Networks, which combines Bebo, AIM, ICQ and AOL’s other community platforms and reaches about 80 million users worldwide. Shields will report to AOL President and COO Ron Grant.
“With the addition of Bebo and the creation of People Networks, AOL is uniquely positioned to capitalize on the exploding social media space by delivering a more personal experience for consumers and a better way for advertisers to engage them,” said Randy Falco, AOL CEO. “AOL is now fully focused on growing our business in three key areas – our advertising network, publishing and people networks – by delivering relevant content and advertising across the Web, and we’re making great progress in each area.”
One of the first initiatives for People Networks will be to integrate AOL’s other community applications and tools, including IM, chat and mail functionality into Bebo. It will also let users merge AIM and Bebo profiles so they can use common screen names without re-registering.
In addition, People Networks will integrate other recent AOL acquisitions, including widget technology company Goowy Media and social search question and answer service Yedda. Integration plans also include the cross-distribution of AOL and Bebo content and applications to expand the scale of the combined networks. For example, AOL will promote Bebo’s successful original programming – including the award-winning “KateModern,” “Sofia’s Diary” and “The Gap Year” — across several AOL channels. Also, Bebo is integrating AOL music and entertainment content.