Bebo’s back with a redesign

12 Apr 2011

Just months after founder Michael Birch returned to Bebo and nine months after venture capitalists Criterion Capital Partners bought Bebo from AOL, the social networking site has unveiled a brash redesign, including integration with Facebook Connect.

Birch recently returned to the company he sold to AOL in 2008 for US$850m as strategic adviser. He has also reinvested in the company.

Last year, AOL said it would sell or shut down Bebo because of plummeting traffic, and eventually sold it to Criterion Capital Partners for an undisclosed sum. It has been suggested the sale raised less than US$10m.

Involving direct input from Birch, the new design features the launch of a universal instant messaging platform called BChat.

It also includes a video chat site, integration with Facebook Connect and a new games platform.

Streamlined new features for Bebo

Bebo has streamlined the home page to remove clutter and has put in place a Facebook-style Lifestream with ‘emotion markers’ to highlight what you think of an item of news.

The social networking site has also moved Notifications to a drop-down menu on the header of the home page so they stay with the user wherever they go on the website.

A new feed profile section allows users to group all their own comments in the one place.

Bebo seems intent on growing fast and last autumn migrated hundreds of servers and storage arrays to a new data centre.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years