Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Yahoo and Bebo Get Cozy–But Just in the U.K. and Ireland (for Now)

I know new Yahoo Eurohead Toby Coppel thinks I am too mean to his overlords in Sunnyvale and even emails me about it (I can take it!).

But I am going to surprise him by telling him that I think he is so very clever today.

beboyahoo

Why? He signed the obvious deal with social network Bebo to sell its display ads in the United Kingdom and Ireland, renew its search deal and add its excellent Answers product and market a branded toolbar.

Could this be a first kiss in a possible bigger deal, such as a Yahoo acquisition of Bebo, which has been rumored? The fact of the matter is that this pair, despite reports, have never held such talks.

That said, such a purchase would be a good one for Yahoo. Provided, of course, that its CEO Jerry Yang got it into his mind to do something bold and initiate a possible game-changer. (Sorry, Toby, I know you think I am being mean again, but the truth hurts!)

While Yahoo cannot hope to buy either MySpace or Facebook (too pricey), what it could do with a smaller, less expensive and internationally oriented site like Bebo, especially when integrated with some of Yahoo’s better properties, could be interesting and even invigorating for the company.

Bebo, which runs behind powerhouses MySpace and Facebook in the U.S., is a little engine that could in Britain and Ireland, where it dominates the market with 11.6 million members.

The ad deal is exclusive and, while the parties did not say so in their joint statement, is likely to be along the lines of those handing-out-the-candy-to-social-networks guaranteed ad arrangements both Facebook and MySpace have signed (with Microsoft and Google, respectively). This is Yahoo’s first plunge into this game.

Under terms of the deal, Yahoo will sell Bebo’s display ads in the U.K. and Ireland, leaving Bebo to concentrate more on ad sales for its innovative original entertainment offerings, like its “KateModern” and the more recently announced “Sofia’s Diary.”

Yahoo’s own most innovative property, Answers, a community-based knowledge service, will be integrated into Bebo. And the pair will develop and distribute the Bebo toolbar, which will let its users get info about their Bebo accounts when not on the site. Yahoo also renewed its deal to provide search on Bebo.

Neither Coppel, who is managing director of Yahoo Europe, nor Joanna Shield, Bebo’s president of international, were available for an interview, so I politely refuse to quote from their meaningless press release statements.

coppel

Still, here’s a post I did about Coppel (pictured here, as he refused to be the subject of my withering video camera lens) after a visit on a recent trip to London, as well as a post I did of Shields and her sharp team at Bebo there too (as well as a video posted below).

Please see this disclosure related to me and Google.


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There was a worry before I started this that I was going to burn every bridge I had. But I realize now that there are some bridges that are worth burning.

— Valleywag editor Sam Biddle