Plaxo, Bebo acquisition rumors run amok on the Web

Everyone's still talking about Microsoft-Yahoo, but two large social media sites were also mentioned this week as possible acquisition targets.

"Who's going to buy Yahoo?" isn't the only big question in mergers and acquisitions this week. Over the past few days, rumors have circulated that social-networking site Bebo and contacts management site Plaxo are either in negotiations or already sold.

Nobody's commenting, obviously.

First, TechCrunch's Michael Arrington wrote on Tuesday that a source told him that a Bebo acquisition was "definitely happening." The company was in the process of negotiating a $1 billion sale, he said, but didn't know who the buyer was. Arrington speculated it could be Google, considering that Bebo's user base has "very little overlap" with that of Google's in-house social network, Orkut--the former has a youth-skewing base and is extremely popular in the U.K., whereas the latter is geared more toward adults and is big in Brazil and India. But with its OpenSocial developer initiative, Google seems like it would rather have influence across the entire social-networking landscape rather than choose one to operate. (Orkut was created by Google engineers, not acquired.)

But Arrington also noted that the Bebo buyer, if there in fact is one, could be just about any big name in media or technology, from CBS to Viacom.

The second rumor is a bit more detailed: tech gossip blog Valleywag reported on Wednesday that Plaxo has been sold to cable conglomerate Comcast for $175 million. Last week, the rumor was that Google had bought Plaxo. But Comcast, Valleywag's Owen Thomas pointed out, already has a deal with Plaxo to handle address book applications for its Internet customers.

All we need now is another Digg acquisition rumor, and then I'm about ready to call it a week.

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