Bebo launches Meebo instant messaging, in effort to win over Chat-starved users

Bebo just launched Meebo’s web-based instant messaging client across the social network and the company says a million messages have been sent already

This is Bebo’s first step towards a much more real-time, interactive platform since they sold to AOL for $850 million in 2008. Right after that AOL let the platform languish, eventually shutting it down for tax purposes and selling it for about $10m to Criterion Capital Partners. True story.

The new team of 20 or so employees has – surprise surprise – made the site profitable and it’s now coming back in user numbers.

Mike Arrington’s recent interview with CTO Akash Garg suggested they’d be going for “Self expression, mobile and video will be strong components.”

Clearly IM and Meebo is part of that.

In addition a company spokesperson told me that “sharing/conversation are huge factors in theproduct roadmap” so this will cover video, music, gaming, and all the niche communities of Bebo’s largely teenage audience. Meebo allows users to sync up their other profiles (Gmail, Yahoo, Facebook etc) alowing them to keep up with people outside the platform.

It’s a cruel irony since there was a suggestion after the sale to AOL that it was Bebo’s IM platform was what AOL wanted inside the fold. Apparently not.

I gather Chat has been the most requested functionality by users for over a year. Well no wonder. It’s all over Facebook, and yet Bebo didn’t have this? Amazing.