Michael Birch (businessman)
Birch in 2012
7 July 1970|
Sawston, Cambridgeshire, England
|Occupation||Computer programmer, entrepreneur, businessman|
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). Birch and Xochi later founded the online social networking website Bebo 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.
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. The Bebo franchise quickly declined under its new owners and fell into bankruptcy; in 2013 the couple bought Bebo back for $1 million.
Since 2008, the couple has started five separate companies they run in parallel. and also invested in MyStore.com along with Gordon Crawford, Julian Lennon and Todd Meagher. In 2013 the Birches founded an exclusive but not elite members club called The Battery, 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."
Birch and Xochi are supporters of the non-profit organization charity:water, having given over $20 million to their organization. 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.
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 has not re-opened since. 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. 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.". On 11 February 2016 he received his OBE at Buckingham Palace.
- "Chatting with the new king of chat rooms". The Times. London. 2006-10-01. Retrieved 2013-09-20.
- Johnson, Bobbie (2008-03-17). "All American". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2008-01-19.
- Dodson, Sean (2006-03-02). "Show and tell online". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2010-05-12.
- "Teen craze over networking sites". BBC News. 2006-03-23. Retrieved 2010-05-12.
- How to make 80 million friends and influence people at http://observer.guardian.co.uk (accessed 12 October 2007)
- FT.com / In depth - AOL to ‘supercharge’ Bebo revenues
- Attewill, Fred (2 July 2013). "Bebo founders buy back site for $1million five years after $850million sale". Metro.co.uk. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
- BBC interview with Michael and Xochi Birch on starting Bebo
- "Imagine! Julian Lennon Invests In MyStore - Forbes.com". 4 December 2007.
- Bebo Founders Go Analog With Exclusive Battery Club in San Francisco
- The Battery San Francisco
- "A bold idea: always use 100% of public donations to fund clean water projects in the field".
- "No. 61256". The London Gazette (Supplement). 12 June 2015. p. B10.