AOL will buy Bebo.com for $850 million in an attempt to enter the social networking market, the Wall Street Journal reports. Bebo has 22 million unique visitors a month, well behind MySpace's 109 million, but the site’s strong European presence will give AOL access to key youth demographics outside the US. The move comes amidst reports of internal turmoil and a possible sale of the Time Warner subsidiary.
Importantly, the site has evolved with the other social networking sites, moving from offering simple messaging to providing games, news feeds, and other entertainment services. AOL has purchased several ad-serving companies in recent years, but Bebo outstrips them in cost, as the former giant tries to transition from providing Internet access to providing content.