bebo recruiting math

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I got an e-mail from a recruiter at Bebo looking to hire me into the same position I had at Tagged. This caught my eye:

Bebo (, Located in San Francisco; with over 40 million registered members viewing billions of pages monthly, it is the largest social networking site in the UK, Ireland, and New Zealand, and the third largest behind MySpace and Facebook in the US. Officially launched in July 2005, received the 2006 Webby Award People’s Vote as the best social networking site in the world.

Our people can boast demonstrated records of success in viral online marketing and social media, having come to us from such companies as Google, Ringo, Tickle, BirthdayAlarm, Friendster, Organic, Yahoo, and MTV.

From its $15M initial round of funding back in early 2006 (from Benchmark Capital) Bebo has enjoyed positive cash flow since day one.

Our recent merger with AOL will bring tremendous opportunity by combining Bebo’s fast growing user base with the social graph of AIM and other assets.

Third place in the U.S.—really?

Facebook US rank: 3
MySpace US rank: 5
Tagged US rank: 108
Hi5 US rank: 288
Bebo US rank: 394
Friendster US rank: 534

Hmm, Tagged passed Bebo just after they got bought out by AOL for $850 million (and while I was working there) and Friendster right before I left. Given that Friendster passed on hiring me twice—that’s the sweet taste of satisfaction! 😀

Depending on the metric, you might make a case for it being #4, but to displace Tagged? Really? Not to mention, completely pissing on the hard work I did there. 😉 Besides this slight isn’t exactly going to make me jump ship from my new job back to my old one—just with a different color scheme.

(In reality, I think the blurb is just outdated since AOL’s recent “merger” with Bebo occurred around the time Tagged hit profitability: 18 months ago. Someone just needs to update things.)

Remembering Bebo

(Okay, I’ll admit my Bebo-bias comes from Bebo being one of the OpenSocial launch partners. Sorry, but I implemented open APIs long before Open Social launched and helped design a key lynch-pin of what makes OpenSocial work, and you shut me out? Damn straight I’m holding a grudge—maybe if you talked to me I could have pointed the mack-truck security hole in the launch.)

I remember the early days of Bebo, mostly because Birthday Alarm was a Plaxo partner back in the day (2003-2005). As near as I can piece together, Birthday Alarm was the main product, and then they built a social network called Ringo which they sold off to Monster via Tickle in 2004, then started to build another social network, Bebo, which was just a better Ringo, and launched almost immediately afterward. In fact, I think at one time both Bebo and Ringo had the same offices.

It boggles the mind.

Then again, it boggles the mind that Ringo would go into morph into a photo sharing site, given they were owned by—LinkedIn was just around the corner and Plaxo would have been a force if they ever had thought to get into social networking. That definitely needs to go into the “What were they smoking?” web-based business chapter of a future b-school textbook.

Both times, they seeded the Ringo and Bebo database using their Birthday Alarm users. You could fault them, but in many ways, this is no different from how MySpace started. Not sure if JumpStart did the same with Tagged and hi5, but, if not, they should be faulted for missing that—it has always the case that the rich get richer.

In any case, Ringo and Bebo were some serious paydays. All I can really say is that Plaxo was stupid for missing that gravy train.

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6 thoughts on “bebo recruiting math

  1. Pingback: Twitted by tychay
  2. Just a thought, my friend: could you maybe have someone translate these posts into English? I'm not some crazy imperialist, it's just it's really, really hard to make out what your point is. We took a straw poll in the office and we genuinely do not know what you are talking about here. Something about some internet companies and some maths? And it's a shame because you probably have something to say, we just cannot make it out.

    Also your comment form is utterly mind-boggling, All these buttons. Seriously?

    1. @Dave: The buttons/UI is provided by IntenseDebate, I imagine they'll tweak/improve it (or I should make it styled better).

      I'm sorry I wasn't clear.

      The digression is just bringing most people (who do not know what Bebo is) up to speed about where it is and what it's place is in history. I'm not sure even all the people at your office are aware of Bebo's relationship with Birthday Alarm, Ringo, and I think failures are very educational, but feel free to disagree.

      The inspiration of the article is that Bebo's recruiters are claiming something that isn't true, or hasn't been true for the last year and a half. Bebo isn't even close to being the 3rd largest social network in the United States, and, sending that claim to someone who had worked at a company might be (depending on your metric) the 3rd largest social network in the United Statues currently, is somewhat embarrassing. After all, I was at the company for two years and if you see the numbers it's overall traffic rank increased those years from ~500 ish into the top-100 on the internet. Given that if you are the same size you'll be falling in rank, that's a pretty good accomplishment that I'm proud of (but care not to repeat).

      In any case, I found out where Bebo's claim actually comes from. Apparently it comes from Comscore's June or July 09 stats of monthly uniques. I don't have access to Comscore's numbers so I wasn't aware and was using Alexa's data as a proxy.

      What apparently happened was that AOL paid Comscore to lump AOL's AIM numbers in with Bebo's driving their monthly uniques up by a factor of 3. With this, they became #3 or a period of one month before being overtaken in that category. According to Comscore, Twitter and LinkedIn are bigger than Bebo, so Bebo, even with the AIM creative accounting, cannot be higher than #5 now.

      Obviously with sites like Twitter that being tracked as "social networks" this is a very competitive category to be in. For instance, MyYearbook, which at one time was (according to some metrics) bigger than Tagged, asked to be removed from the "social network" category and into the "teen" category where it is currently #1. If it were in the Social Network category it'd be around #20.

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