So news came out recently that Aol was looking at either shutting down or selling of Bebo, the UK based social network that they bought a couple of years ago for about $850 Million for. I used bebo for about a day, but nevertheless I’m quite sad about how this is turning out.
Aol and Bebo are not alone, there’s a ton of similar situations that have happened, including the Yahoo! acquisition of Kelkoo, the CBS acquisition of LastFM, the Google acquisition of Dodgeball and many other’s by lot’s of different internet companies. Post acquisition it’s really difficult for a product or service to keep it’s edge and it’s appeal, especially if it gets sold to a company that doesn’t see the new acquisition as contributing to it’s core.
The Telegraph has a great report on the Aol situation and I especially liked this bit towards the end
“The lessons for the likes of MySpace and Facebook are clear: unwavering investment in product development, audience and niche focus and continual evolvement, are the key ingredients Bebo, certainly in its latter years, seemed to be lacking.”
It’s not just Myspace and Facebook that need to pay attention to product and audience and continual evolvement. It’s every company in every industry. You can see which companies are the ones who pay attention to this in different industries, Salesforce.com, Amazon, Zappos, Apple, all continue to evolve, update product lines, cannibalise existing businesses to grow future revenues and all are likely to be around for sometime because of it.
You need product champions and innovators who can look into any market and see the needs and develop products accordingly regardless of the market. Otherwise companies will go the route of Bebo or worse.