Following a story in the British newspaper the Sunday Telegraph, rumors are flying that Yahoo is going to make an offerfor the social networking site Bebo. According to the paper, the Internet giant is willing to offer $1 billion to acquire Bebo, which is almost twice as muchas the $580 million that Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. paid for MySpace. Although relatively small in the U.S.,Bebo has a big following in Britain, and would give Yahoo a much larger presence in the burgeoning social networking field, where its Yahoo 360 has proved very much of a disappointment. Although the story is attributed to gossip in Silicon Valley, there may well be more than a grain of truth to it. It’s believed that Yahoo offered $1 billion for Facebook, another major social networking site, last year, which was rejected. Yahoo’s been hurting in this area, in spite of owning sites like the photo-sharingFlickr, and earlier this year, at the Web 2.0 Expo, Networks Division head Jeff Weiner said, “Ultimately we have tremendous assets in social media,but we don’t have one killer application in terms of MySpace or Facebook – yet. We’ve got to get out there, in terms of meeting consumer needs.” Yahoo 360 hasn’tperformed up to expectations, coming seventh in rankings, far below MySpace, and late last year there was talk that the company might revamp it. Bebo is ranked third in the U.S, with 1.3 per cent ofall visits to social networking sites. In the U.K., however, it’s the eighth most popular web site overall. Acquisition of Bebo would give Yahoo the chance to bring together its individualsites, from forums to search engine. So is it all conjecture, or might it happen? Sources claim that Bebo has already turned down a number of offers, and with 25 million users, it’squite a force. Founder Michael Birch has said in the past that he’d like to keep the site independent, and there have been vague mutterings of an IPO. However, connecting the dots, it would allmake sense. Whether anything will come of it, though, is a different matter.
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