UK-based social network Bebo has been acquired by Time Warner’s AOL for $850m (£418m) in cash.

Bebo, which is particularly popular in the UK with a teenage and young adult audience, has an estimated 40m members worldwide and around 80m unique users. 

According to AOL CEO Randy Falco:

“What drew us to Bebo was its substantial and fast-growing worldwide user-base, its vision of a truly social web, and the monetization opportunities that leverage Platform-A across our combined global audience.”

“This positions us to offer advertisers even greater reach and marketers significant insights into the desires and needs of consumers.”

The deal also represents a significant exit for Balderton Capital, which sold its 15.7% stake in Bebo to AOL for around $140m (£68.7m). Bebo raised $15m (£7.3m) from the VC firm in May 2006.

The price tag is relatively small compared to the valuations that have been put onto other social networks.

News Corp acquired MySpace for $580m in 2005, but estimates its value at $15bn now, while Microsoft’s 1.6% stake in Facebook values it at the same price. Compared to these valuations, AOL may have found itself a bargain.

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