AOL's Epically Embarrassing 'Value Destruction'

After paying $850 million for Bebo in 2008, AOL is said to be selling the social network for $10 million or less. So, in barely two years, a near-billion-dollar deal imploded.

It was only in 2008 when the "embarrassing," "joke" of a transaction went down. Bebo co-founders Michael and Xochi Birch (pictured) quickly retired and made over a Pacific Heights mansion, and their MySpace knockoff never took AOL anywhere it wanted to go. AOL recently considered writing off the site entirely.

It pretty much has: Mike Arrington at TechCrunch reported Bebo has been sold to Criterion Capital Partners for $10 million or less, and Wall Street Journal sources confirmed a Criterion deal at "an exceptionally uninspiring number" with almost total "value destruction." This wretched write down follows AOL's participation in the rotten Time Warner merger and the grossly inflated acquisition of instant messaging firm ICQ. Given that AOL has begun buying content companies, shareholders should hope its dealmaking curse is finally behind it.

[Top pic: Bebo co-founder Xochi Birch, by Auren Hoffman]