How well would you say you remember Bebo? If your answer is “hazily and with difficulty”, then you are not alone. However, that could all be about to change.
Originally launched back in 2005, Bebo enjoyed a brief surge in popularity before being completely overtaken by the rapidly growing behemoth that was Facebook, and was bought and sold a number of times before ultimately being forgotten. Last summer, founder Michael Birch reacquired Bebo from AOL for $1 million, and released the following video to celebrate.
The clip is delightfully self-aware; Birch sings the praises of Bebo’s “insightful, personality probing quizzes” and “potentially career-destroying photos” (which could honestly refer to pretty much any social network nowadays), and celebrates the number of obscene cartoons that users drew on the Whiteboard feature.
Fast forward to this week, and Birch has finally revealed the first step in Bebo’s planned comeback; an ephemeral video messaging service called Blab. Blab works across Android and iOS, and lets users record and send video clips which disappear once they have been viewed. Naturally, this has led cynics to dismiss Blab as a Snapchat copycat.
Blab is the first of three Bebo apps to be launched this year, and is supported by tech company Monkey Inferno, whose CEO Shaan Puri has stated that each app “will focus on doing one thing exceptionally well.”
We should probably reserve judgement on Bebo’s resurgence until all three apps have been released. You never know, Birch and Puri could pull something truly amazing out of the bag. After all, Myspace proved that anything is possible when it jettisoned that abominable capital S and re-emerged from its own grave like a musically-focused phoenix. Bebo could be the next network to explode back onto the social scene and capture a brand new audience, like a Nineties pop star on a reunion tour.
And if Birch can maintain his refreshing perspective and not fall down the Mark Zuckerberg Well Of Self-Importance, then Bebo might finally be able to prove that it has something Facebook doesn’t; a sense of humour.