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The rumor mill is always churning on San Francisco-based Bebo. Now Google may be interested in acquiring the social network for $1 billion to $1.5 billion. That's a lot of cheese for a smallish social network that has almost no presence in the U.S. Why would Google want it?

Bebo is small, but there aren't a lot of options left for companies looking to pick up a social network. Bebo is big in the United Kingdom, a large market sometimes forgotten in the Valley. Google's existing social network, Orkut, is big in Brazil and India, and that's it. Buying Bebo would also keep it away from MySpace — with Rupert Murdoch dropping by and Bebo looking for additional investment, anything is possible. Update: Kara Swisher says Bebo's hoping to get a $1 billion valuation in a round of financing, with Google or News Corp. as potential investors, not candidates to buy the whole company.