Michael Birch (businessman)

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Michael Birch
Michael Birch Oct 2012.jpg
Birch in 2012
Born (1970-07-07) 7 July 1970 (age 51)
Sawston, Cambridgeshire, England
OccupationComputer programmer, entrepreneur, businessman
Spouse(s)Xochi Birch

Michael Birch OBE (born 7 July 1970)[1][2] is a British computer programmer and entrepreneur. Birch has helped co-found several startups including Blab, BirthdayAlarm.com, Ringo.com, and social networking site Bebo. Birch sold Bebo, his most lucrative business, which he started with his wife, Xochi Birch, to AOL in March 2008 for $850 million. Later he purchased the company back for $1 million. Birch has made several large donations to charitable organizations, including charity:water.

Early life[edit]

Birch was born in Sawston, Cambridgeshire and raised in Hertfordshire.[2] He attended Imperial College London from 1988 to 1991, where he received a bachelor of science degree in physics.[3]


Birch with his wife Xochi at their home in Pacific Heights, San Francisco in 2010

Birch and his wife Xochi Birch have co-founded over half a dozen startups in the past 15 years. Together with Birch's brother Paul, they founded BirthdayAlarm.com and with Morgan Sowden they founded Ringo.com (which was sold to tickle.com in 2003).[4] Birch and Xochi later founded the online social networking website Bebo[5] in January 2005, with a major launch in July 2005. In 2007, Bebo had over 45 million registered users and was the sixth most popular site in the UK, bigger than AOL, Amazon.co.uk and bbc.co.uk.[6]

Michael and Xochi Birch sold Bebo to AOL in March 2008 for $850 million. Their combined 70% stake yielded a profit of $595 million from the deal.[7] The Bebo franchise quickly declined under its new owners and fell into bankruptcy; in 2013 the couple bought Bebo back for $1 million.[8]

Since 2008, the couple has started five separate companies they run in parallel.[9] and also invested in MyStore.com along with Gordon Crawford, Julian Lennon and Todd Meagher.[10] In 2013 the Birches founded an exclusive but not elite members club called The Battery,[11] in San Francisco, with their vision stated as "to create a culture where inspiration is embraced, diverse communities come together and egos are checked at the door."[12]

In July 2009, Michael co-founded PROfounders Capital with Brent Hoberman, Peter Dubens, Jonnie Goodwin, Rogan Angelini-Hurll and Sean Seton-Rogers.

Birch and Xochi are supporters of the non-profit organization charity:water, having given over $20 million to the organization.[13] Birch also helped the organization launch mycharitywater.org, a fundraising platform that has raised more than $21 million for clean water projects around the world since launch in autumn 2009. In October 2011, Birch launched a social media project with charity:water and the startup studio Monkey Inferno, Inc to raise awareness of the water crisis and give millions of people the ability to let their friends know, donate and help solve the water crisis.[14]

In October 2014 the Birches bought the Farmers Arms public house and Manor House properties in the village of Woolfardisworthy, Torridge (Woolsery), North Devon. A popular community pub for decades, the historic Grade II Listed Farmers Arms, the only pub in Woolfardisworthy village, closed in December 2012 and was reopened in September 2018. The Grade II Listed Manor House has been closed for several years. The Birches are to restore and re-open Woolfardisworthy's pub and Manor House with the Manor House being put into use as a hotel.[15] The couple have three children.

Michael Birch is co-founder of Blab, a live streaming app or browser based platform that allows 4 users to meet digitally and have a conversation. The platform also includes a chat room where other users can watch or join the conversation. The app was released on the iTunes store on 17 August 2015.


In the 2015 Queen's Birthday Honours, Birch was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) "for services to technology and online services."[16] On 11 February 2016 he received his OBE at Buckingham Palace.


  1. ^ "Chatting with the new king of chat rooms". The Times. London. 1 October 2006. Retrieved 20 September 2013.
  2. ^ a b Johnson, Bobbie (17 March 2008). "All American". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 19 January 2008.
  3. ^ "The incredible life of Mike Birch, the Brit who sold Bebo for $850 million before buying it back for $1 million". Business Insider. Retrieved 7 August 2018.
  4. ^ Dodson, Sean (2 March 2006). "Show and tell online". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
  5. ^ "Teen craze over networking sites". BBC News. 23 March 2006. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
  6. ^ Garfield, Simon (17 June 2006). "How to make 80 million friends and influence people". The Observer. ISSN 0029-7712. Retrieved 16 September 2020.
  7. ^ "AOL to 'supercharge' Bebo revenues". Financial Times. Retrieved 7 August 2018.
  8. ^ Attewill, Fred (2 July 2013). "Bebo founders buy back site for $1million five years after $850million sale". Metro. UK. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
  9. ^ "Michael and Xochi Birch on starting Bebo". BBC News. 10 June 2011. Retrieved 7 August 2018.
  10. ^ "Imagine! Julian Lennon Invests in MyStore". 4 December 2007.
  11. ^ "Bebo Founders Go Analog With Exclusive Battery Club in San Francisco". AllThingsD. Retrieved 7 August 2018.
  12. ^ "The Battery". thebatterysf.com. Retrieved 7 August 2018.
  13. ^ "A bold idea: always use 100% of public donations to fund clean water projects in the field". Charitywater.org.
  14. ^ "Bebo founder Birch launches charity site". Financial Times. Retrieved 7 August 2018.
  15. ^ Cooper, Joel (5 October 2019). "The US tech millionaire that transformed a tiny Devon village". devonlive. Retrieved 3 August 2020.
  16. ^ "No. 61256". The London Gazette (Supplement). 12 June 2015. p. B10.

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