PaidContent is reporting that the AOL acquisition of Bebo is now complete. The news also comes with reports that Yahoo! will end up losing their ad deal as AOL’s Platform A becomes integrated into a new combined entity. The combined entity includes AIM and ICQ, Bebo and other community platforms which will be called the “People Networks.”
Ultimately what just took place is that AOL’s people channel fell in popularity and they simply acquired a growing company to rebuild their community division. As Adam Ostrow points out, this could be five years too late. Why didn’t AOL turn AIM into a social network years ago? I’ve been writing about this since I started blogging over a year and a half ago. Instant messaging is still one of my primary social networks.
It’s as though AOL is spending a ton of money to try and rebuild what once used to be a booming community. This is a classic problem facing the large companies which have large attention shifts away from their properties to external sites. As large attention shifts take place, online media entities need to try to monetize while continuing to expand their attention portfolio.
We love to hate AOL though. AOL does have one of the most diversified set of assets which represent some of the most visited websites. While I’m somewhat skeptical of how a combined entity will end up working out, it makes some sense. Combine chat, social networking and user profiles, tracking of activities throughout the network and you end up with something eerily similar to Facebook. It will be interesting to see if AOL can make these distinct entities somehow work together.