Twitch buys social networking platform Bebo, beefs up Twitch Rivals

Milo W. June 20, 2019

Bebo, an early competitor in the social networking market, has been acquired by streaming giant Twitch.

Twitch purchased Bebo for $25 million after beating out other notable bidders including Discord and Facebook, according to a report from TechCrunch. The report further states that Bebo will be assisting in the development of Twitch’s esports business with an emphasis on Twitch Rivals following the procurement by the Amazon subsidiary.

Bebo may sound familiar to some, and it’s for good reason. The website was once an early titan in social networking, acting as a competitor to MySpace and Facebook. The company was founded in 2005 by husband and wife team Micheal and Xochi Birch and quickly became a social networking frontrunner in the United Kingdom.

Bebo’s popularity would eventually draw the attention of web portal service provider AOL, who purchased the website for a whopping $850 million in 2008. However, AOL would never profit from its investment. Bebo would lag behind the growing social media landscape and soon faded away from the public’s consciousness. AOL’s then-CEO was fired as a result of the poor deal, and Bebo was sold to UK-based property company Criterion Capital for just $25 million.

Bebo never regained its former reputation and ultimately filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2013. The company was then purchased by its original founders, Michel and Xochi Birch, for $1 million as the pair promised to revive the business.

"We just bought Bebo back for $1m. Can we actually re-invent it? Who knows, but it will be fun trying," Michael Birch said.

Bebo has been exploring different avenues of business since the Birch family reclaimed control. One of the final projects the company delved into before they were purchased by Twitch was offering a Twitch streaming service similar to Open Broadcast Software.

This service was eventually discontinued in 2018 and the focus was shifted to creating a platform for streaming tournaments before it was purchased by Twitch.

Bebo’s attention will now be concentrated on further fleshing out Twitch Rivals following the acquisition.