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Whoa, dude! Tribe, the social network preferred by Bay Area hippies and ravers, may be a damsel in distress as reported, says a tipster, but NBC is swooping down to whisk Tribe to its castle in the media sky.

NBC, the broadcast network, is in the process of acquiring Tribe Networks, Inc. It sounds like the investors have some hope now. I understand that the deal is far enough along that a letter of intent has been signed by NBC and delivered to Tribe, and that a team will be visiting the Tribe offices soon to go through the basic steps of due diligence.

It seems NBC is truely trying to get into the social networking business. The recent purchase of iVillage, the deal with YouTube for distribution of shows, and now the potential purchase of Tribe. Is this simply NBC trying to keep pace with Fox, or do they have some greater plan in mind?

Good question. Fun activity to try at home: Call up your favorite NBC exec and ask that. See how well he makes up a plan on the spot.

Earlier: Rumormonger: Tribe wants old chief back
Later: Guest post: Why NBC is buying