Benchmark plugs into Bebo

Company adds coin to netco

London-based Benchmark Capital Europe is forking over $15 million for an undisclosed stake in networking Web site Bebo.

Netco said it has 24 million registered members and records 2.5 billion page views per month. According to research firm Hitwise U.K., Bebo is on track to overtake MySpace.com, acquired by News Corp. for $580 million last year, in the U.K. later this year.

Founded by husband-and-wife Michael and Xochi Birch last July, Bebo will use the coin from Benchmark to open a London office and expand its U.S. team.

Benchmark general manager Barry Maloney, who will join Bebo’s board of directors, said, “User-generated content is creating all these online communities. It is a huge market for online advertisers to exploit, particularly in terms of the profile of the users.”

Benchmark owns Irish pay TV group Setanta.

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