Kara Visits Bebo in London
One of the most hot and hyped areas on the Web is in the social-networking arena. And while Facebook and MySpace suck up all the oxygen in this heady room, there are others, including the No. 3 company in the space, Bebo.
While its technical and Web creation offices are in San Francisco, a lot of the commercial action takes place in London, since the United Kingdom and Europe are a big growth area for the company and, most important, where it is running neck and neck with the leaders.
Besides the more worldly focus, Bebo–co-founded by CEO Michael Birch in mid-2005 and funded by Benchmark Capital’s London partners–is trying some different approaches to the space.
Bebo, for example, has interesting new initiatives like its “KateModern” fictional series on the site, a deal with cool gaming site AWOMO (A World of My Own) and a hip look that straddles the chaos of MySpace and the spareness (I would say grimness, but Mark Zuckerberg would call me mean again) of Facebook.
And, of course, because of the landscape now related to social-networking sites, there are the usual takeover rumors for the site, although there is likely a lot more smoke than fire at this point.
Here is a longish video of my visit to Bebo’s London offices and a talk with Joanna Shields, its sharp president of international, a Silicon Valley exec with extensive European experience at companies like RealNetworks and Google. Her insights are well worth the length here, as they provide a window into where the whole sector is headed in content and advertising: