Bebo May Beat Retreat From Australia

    November 20, 2009

Sometimes you just have to know when to call it quits, and a new report indicates that Bebo has decided now’s the time to cut its losses in Australia.  Bebo is supposed to end its operations in the country before the end of the year.

Paul McIntyre, who was the first to report this potential move, noted today that nothing official’s been announced.  He then continued, "However, Bebo has already started informing Australian partners of its exit, which is due in part to Facebook."

And Facebook’s growth in Australia has indeed been phenomenal.  A director of analytics at Nielsen told McIntyre that Australian Internet users are dedicating about 30 percent of their online hours to Facebook, leading the firm to divide things into "Facebook Time" and "Non Facebook Time."

By comparison, recent Hitwise stats show that Facebook receives about one-fourth of all U.S. page views, and one-seventh of all UK page views.

So it’s quite plausible that Bebo will exit Australia, a market in which its performance has been substandard.  This would represent a significant loss for AOL, though, which paid $850 million for Bebo last year.

UPDATE: An AOL representative sent us an email that in part read, "We can confirm that there have been some layoffs, but will continue to have a presence in Australia.  Bebo has only ever had a small number of sales/support staff on the ground in Australia and San Francisco remains Bebo’s headquarters and main operation."

The email then continued, "We are in the process of re-aligning the Bebo business and need to make sure that our resources are aligned with our new business mode in order to execute effectively against our future vision and stay competitive.  We are therefore required to make some difficult decisions about the future of our organisation and its people in order to stay competitive, and are exploring the possibility of centralising a number of our business operations and services."

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