Former Esat Digifone boss Barry Maloney has joined the board of next-generation social networking site Bebo.com following an investment of US$15m by Benchmark Capital in the company. Bebo.com is one of the fastest growing sites on the internet with a total of 24 million registered members turning more than 2.5 billion monthly page views.
The investment by Benchmark will enable the 10-month-old Bebo.com to expand its US team, open a London office and expand into other core markets.
Bebo.com CEO Michael Birch commented: “I am delighted that Barry Maloney, a general partner at Benchmark, is joining our board of directors. Barry and Benchmark have not only extensive knowledge in building technology companies of lasting value but also a real understanding of the social media space, having invested in companies such as Friendster, WeeWorld and Habbo Hotel.”
Benchmark, which also backs eBay and MySQL, has invested in Irish online bookmakers Betfair and in recent weeks Maloney led a €20m purchase of a 50pc stake in Irish digital media group Setanta. The transaction is subject to approval by the Irish Competition Authority.
Maloney, who formerly headed up Esat Digifone’s operations in Ireland, stepped down as chairman of O2 Ireland in order to avoid a conflict of interest with a new MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) start-up he is spearheading with former O2 Ireland finance director Niall Norton called Clever Communications. According to sources, Maloney and Norton are negotiating a potential MVNO play with Ireland’s three mobile operators Vodafone, O2 and Meteor. Maloney is also the brother of BT Ireland’s chief operations officer and country manager Mike Maloney.
Commenting on joining the board of Bebo.com, Maloney said: “We’re a strong believer in the social networking space and Bebo is well-positioned to remain a market leader. The Bebo management team has extensive experience and we are looking forward to partnering with them to make Bebo the number one social networking site in the world.”
Jim Scheinman, vice-president of business development and sales at Bebo.com, told siliconrepublic.com: “The formula driving Bebo’s success comes down to a great product that’s easy and fun to use, targeted at school, college and university students. In our active schools and colleges, 85pc of the students visit Bebo every day.”
He added: “Bebo is about interacting with your friends in a dynamic setting and discovering user-generated content (video, music, blogs) — content that as a Beboer you choose to discover.”
By John Kennedy