After all the speculations about the partnership with Yahoo, AOL seems to have had its sights set elsewhere. They?ve announced that they will acquire social network Bebo for 850 million dollars. Bebo is very popular in the UK, as well as Ireland and New Zealand where it is the number one social network, is in the 85th place of the Alexa top 100 list and has approximately 80 million unique users. Randy Falco, Chairman and CEO at AOL explains the move: ?What drew us to Bebo was its substantial and fast-growing worldwide user-base, its vision of a truly social web, and the monetization opportunities that leverage Platform-A across our combined global audience. This positions us to offer advertisers even greater reach and marketers significant insights into the desires and needs of consumers.? Bebo President, Joanna Shields, calls the acquisition a ?natural progression for Bebo? and adds that they ?look forward to working together to continue to expand the online social experience globally.? As big as this news is by itself, the question that arises is: what does this mean for the Microsoft-Yahoo-Google-AOL love rectangle? Since the speculated AOL-Yahoo deal was supposed to be a merger, and since Yahoo doesn?t have a product that?s directly competing with Bebo (if you don?t count Flickr, which is not a general-purpose social network, or as theregoesdave suggests in the comments, Yahoo Mash and Yahoo 360, which haven?t really been very successful, and are both relatively poorly executed hybrids) the fact that AOL just bought Bebo doesn?t really mean that there?s no way for this deal to happen. However, it definitely complicates things and I would say that the AOL-Yahoo deal now seems less likely than before. Yahoo has recently extended the deadline for Microsoft and others to nominate new Yahoo directors, but the date is not exactly set in stone; Microsoft has been relatively silent ever since. We?ll just have to wait and see, but Microsoft?s chances to become the new owner of Yahoo have just slightly increased. Damn Social Networking Sites is where the Big Big Money is at im in the process of planning Building and Hopefully launch my own social networking site by next year and i guarantee all of you that my site is going to beat all the big boy sites out there with my evil plans to take social networking to a whole new level.