Bebo founder Michael Birch wants to start all over again with social network (video)

8 Aug 2013

The comeback kid? Bebo founder Michael Birch

Last night, Bebo took down the existing website to make way for a new Bebo. The company, which Michael and Xochi Birch sold to AOL for US$850m in 2008, was bought back in recent weeks by co-founder Michael Birch for US$1m.

When AOL bought Bebo, it was one of the world’s most popular social networks. At that time, Bebo had more than 40m users and was in third place in the world behind MySpace and Facebook.

However, AOL sold Bebo to Criterion Capital partners in 2010 for less than US$10m.

In recent weeks, Birch acquired the brand from Criterion for US$1m to have a greater role in its destiny.

In a YouTube video released last night, Birch said it was time to “wipe the slate clean.”

Paving the way for a tech comeback story


The humorous video poked fun at the white board feature on the old Bebo site which became, in Birch’s words, “the biggest repository of cock-and-balls images in the world.”

He said: “We can’t take the moral high ground. It is time to wipe the slate clean. The new Bebo will be very different from the old one.”

A spokesman for Bebo explained that the new Bebo team, led by Birch as founder and new CEO Shaan Puri, teamed up with Rubber Republic to produce a video that poked fun at the old before moving to the next chapter.

“When we bought back Bebo, we knew how big of a challenge we were taking on. Most people had written Bebo off, the brand had become stale, and there was little evidence for successful tech comebacks (outside of Apple),” he said.

“Rather than a conventional landing page, Michael Birch (founder) and Shaan Puri (CEO of Bebo) got together and decided it would be more fun to do a ‘spoof corporate video’ that would acknowledge the highs and lows of Bebo over the years.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years