Founders return to Bebo for $1m after five years

THE FOUNDERS of Bebo have bought back the once-mighty social network for $1m (£659,000), five years after selling it for $850m.

British entrepreneur Michael Bird and his wife Xochi had sold Bebo to AOL in 2008, when the teen favourite had 40m active users sharing photos and status updates. At the time, AOL boss Randy Falco promised to “supercharge” Bebo’s advertising revenues but the company fell into a rapid decline, as Facebook and then Twitter came to dominate the social media landscape.

Just two years after buying it, AOL sold Bebo to private equity firm Criterion Capital Partners for less than $10m, and the company applied for bankruptcy earlier this year. Now, Michael and Xochi Birch – who had pocketed just short of $600m from selling Bebo – have agreed a deal to take control of it. “We just bought Bebo back for $1m,” Michael Birch wrote on Twitter on Monday night. “Can we actually re-invent it? Who knows, but it will be fun trying.”

Birch founded a host of internet startups in the web’s early days before he and Xochi launched Bebo in 2005.

Since selling it, the couple have opened a private members club in San Francisco and launched Monkey Inferno, which aims to nurture startups.