AOL said Monday that it has closed the $850 million purchase of Bebo and has put Bebo CEO Joanna Shields in charge of the newly acquired social network, AIM and ICQ.
Shields will be in charge of a new AOL unit dubbed "People Networks." The general theme (Techmeme): Integrate social networking throughout the AOL network and its 80 million users. Shields, who landed at the AOL via the Bebo purchase, will report to AOL president and operating chief Ron Grant.
As part of the move, AOL said it will focus on three areas: The advertising network, publishing and people networks. The goal: Figure out a way to monetizing social networking, a challenge that has befuddled monetization kings like Google.
Among the items on AOL's social networking to-do list (statement):
- Integrate AOL IM, chat and email into Bebo. Users will have common screen names.
- Integrate other AOL acquisitions--Goowy Media and Yedda for instance--into the People Networks unit. AOL will also cross-distribute content on these properties. In short, you'll see Bebo's original programming across multiple properties.
- Monetize this social fiesta with open media platforms and content screening.
This plan sounds swell on paper. Let's hope the AOL bureaucracy doesn't bog down Shields.