@ EconSM: Interview: Ron Grant, President, AOL: Bebo Will Return Us To Our Roots

AOL president Ron Grant, appearing on our EconSM panel, suggested new acquisition Bebo would be used to thread social features throughout AOL’s new-look websites. In a later chat with my colleagues David Kaplan, Staci Kramer and I, Grant expanded on the philosophy and talked about the “turnaround” for a content-conscious AOL (NYSE: AOL). He encapsulated a litany of hinted-at forthcoming social publishing initiatives: “We have a very different approach to content right now.” And how…

“We’re not trying to build a portal. We’re literally putting relevance front-and-center – relevant ads, relevant content, and letting the users decide where to take these platforms. That’s what you’ll see a lot with Bebo. We’re not going to care where the content comes from. We’re just going to put the right stuff in front of the right people.

“We have open APIs, we have the open platform that Bebo has. We have to look at everybody as a potential partner because, right now, it’s not about building destinations; it’s about really engaging people and expanding the reach. I’m not going to speak for Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO), but what we believe right now is, we want to be able to take this social media aspect and allow the users to take it anywhere they want to go – whether it’s a Bebo environment, a Google (NSDQ: GOOG) environment or a desktop widget or it’s something that’s within a passion point.

You will see AOL much more return to its community roots and Bebo will play a very central role in that.”