With all the social networking sites available across the Internet, it's easy to see how the Bebo website could be overlooked. There are many social networking sites out there that offer similar things to their users, and many of them were started within the same time frame. Bebo stands apart for several reasons.
Background of the Bebo Website
Michael and Xochi Birch began the Bebo website in 2005 from their San Francisco home. Michael Birch is no stranger to founding websites, having created BirthdayAlarm.com and the now-defunct Ringo.com, before spearheading Bebo. He is also on the board of MyStore.com and is an investor in Goodreads.
The Bebo website was at its most popular in 2007 when it had more than 450 million registered users. It was the sixth most popular website in the UK, bigger than even AOL, Amazon.co.uk, and bbc.co.uk.
The Birches sold the Bebo website to AOL in March 2008 for $850 million, making a $595 million profit for themselves. At the time it seemed like a sound investment for AOL, but this was the same time other social networking platforms were also becoming popular. It seemed everyone who was looking to connect, were turning to Facebook and Twitter, and weren't looking any further.
How to Get Started
Getting started on the Bebo website is just the same as starting out on nearly every other social networking site. Each person joining Bebo must create a profile. This profile gets split into two modules, a comment section, and a list of friends. Other modules are options, just like you would have on Facebook. The profile can be set to "Private" or "Public," depending on who you are looking to connect with. Different backgrounds or "skins" can be added to personalize the site more for individual users, much like Twitter or MySpace.
Users of Bebo can include quizzes and polls, as well as photo albums, much like they would on MySpace. They can also add blogs like they would on MySpace, as well as a list of bands they are fans of. Videos may be added as well, linking back to YouTube or uploaded via Bebo's servers.
Users can also join groups and have the groups displayed on their profile page. These groups work similar to becoming a Fan of something on Facebook. Instead of having a unique Bebo messaging system, users add in their Messenger user names from AIM or Windows Live Messenger. Similar to MySpace, Bebo employs an Open Media Platform for content providers to distribute media within it. The networks that have included their content in Bebo include:
The Bebo website now includes Bebo Authors, and this makes it different than most of the other social networking sites out there. This unique module allows authors to upload chapters of their books to be reviewed by other users.
Future of Bebo
While the Bebo website certainly had its time in the spotlight, it has taken a backseat to some of the other more prominent social networking websites, such as Facebook and Twitter. While Bebo is doing what it can to take care of its current users, it might not be attracting any new ones.