NEW YORK: A social networking website is the latest  must-have fashion accessory for every self-respecting internet colossus. And Time Warner's AOL is no exception.

It was announced Friday that the struggling web portal has agreed to acquire Bebo – world numero tres after MySpace and Facebook – for $850 million (€544.73m; £418.84).

Bebo, a combination of Facebook's college nostagia with MySpace's media and me-obsession, was launched three years ago in the UK. In January 2008 comScore recorded 11.4 million unique visitors to the site, while in the US it  notched 4.1m visitors.

AOL chief executive Randy Falco hailed the deal as a game-changer for the company, which is still mid-morph from an a subscription-funded internet access business to an ad-supported model.

Meantime, Bebo's British founder-owners  Michael and Xochi Birch, now resident in San Francisco, are leaving the company to celebrate their windfall – and perhaps focus on creating another three-year goldmine.

Data sourced from multiple origins; additional content by WARC staff