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Xochi Birch - timesonline

Having sold the Bebo networking site to AOL in 2008, internet entrepreneur Michael Birch, 38, launched Wordia, which aims to become the first democratically compiled multimedia dictionary. AOL paid £418m for Bebo, with 70% owned by Hertfordshire-born Birch, his American wife, Xochi, 37, and his brother. Their stake was worth £293m but allowing for tax, the pair, who live in San Francisco, are worth £250m

Bebo, Michael and Xochi Birch - The Guardian

* Oliver Burkeman
* The Guardian, Saturday 4 November 2006

Weekend Web 2.0 Special: Bebo

Michael and Xochi Birch, founders of Bebo Photograph: Patrick Fraser

Not long ago, a 17-year-old girl from Dorset vented her frustration at the tyrannical pettiness of her schoolteachers, as 17-year-olds everywhere have done since the beginning of time. '"Take your nose ring out"? fuck off biatch. im in 6th form. i dont need to comply with your rules,' she wrote, a rebel in punctuation as much as in piercings. There wasn't much to render her thoughts culturally significant, except this: instead of being confined to a diary, hidden in a bedroom, they were published - and selected as a pick of the day - on Bebo, the fastest-growing social networking site in the world.

Michael and Xochi Birch, who founded Bebo a year ago, met in a pub in London, where Michael lived and where Californian Xochi was studying.Their marriage has endured the rollercoaster ride of three internet startups, which either shows they're perfectly matched, or that they've spent too much time staring at computer screens to realise they aren't.

Bebo, like MySpace, provides its more than 23m users with a kind of prosthetic personality extension: a profile page where they can post diary entries, photographs, music, homemade video and answers to questionnaires - about their favourite things, or about what scares them or makes them most happy. Crucially, these profiles are interlinked. Beboers can leave comments on other pages, send private messages and set quizzes for each other. They can limit access to selected friends or publicise their pages to the world. The Birches are particularly proud of a feature they call ffART, for 'free-form art', which allows users to draw pictures on each others' pages (such as a heart and 'Luv u!' written in pink letters).

'We often think about social networking as the next generation of email,' says Michael, who is 36. Email 'hasn't really changed since the day it was invented.' It provides a single channel of communication: in text. 'Social networking provides a community, where you can list all your friends and find out about them, see their photos and videos, and communicate with them ... '

The average Beboer tends to speak in text-message language, may rave about tattoos or Avril Lavigne, and generally disregards the topics of Beethoven or constitutional reform. The age profile is younger than that of MySpace or Friendster. This wasn't planned: the Birches spread the word to about 100 people and waited to see what would happen.

Growth is unpredictable: while Bebo has done well in the UK and is catching on in the US, in Ireland it is the second-most visited website after Google. For now, the Birches still own the firm, paying themselves 'below average' salaries, and reportedly resisting $100m offers to sell.

The community's youthfulness has brought controversy for two reasons: the perceived risk from child predators and cyber-bullying, in which people set up user pages to ridicule a classmate. Michael says they have 18 people working around the clock to answer any queries about misuse of the system. If you use Bebo to bully, Xochi says sternly, 'your account will be cancelled'.

With two young children of their own, the Birches, who now live in San Francisco, find themselves on call for millions of Beboers as well. 'We get people contacting us saying, "They're mean to me at school ..." I'm, like, "OK, I'm really sorry, but speak to your parents and teachers and try to resolve it."'

They smile ruefully. Being the benign dictators of community bigger than the population of Australia does have its downsides.

What is Web 2.0?

People are always asking us why we're Web 2.0. I say, well, describe Web 2.0 and I'll try to answer that ... I looked on Wikipedia to find out what the definition [was] ... social networking is listed. Therefore we are Web 2.0. Broadband has allowed people to live online a lot more.

What is your big idea?

The next logical step after email. Email hasn't changed since the day it was invented ... all you know about the person who sent it is their email address - you can't click through and delve deeper and connect in other ways. Social networking fills the gap.

What is the next big thing online?

Mobile devices that allow you to take the internet everywhere you go. The interesting thing that's just starting to happen now is the concept where the phone knows where you are. It knows where your friends are ... So you may go out to town for a drink for the evening, and it'll say that two bars down the road is your best mate. And you text them and say, let's meet up in the pub in between.

 

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Xochi Birch - From Wikipedia

Xochi Birch is married to Michael Birch. They founded Bebo.com together in January 2005. Today, Bebo has over 40 million registered users and has surpassed MySpace in many countries and is currently the sixth most popular site in the UK, bigger than AOL, Amazon.co.uk and bbc.co.uk

Michael Birch born 6 July 1970 in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire is an English computer programmer and entrepreneur. Michael attended Imperial College London where he studied for a BSc in Physics (1988-1991). Michael is married to Xochi Birch. Together with Michael's brother Paul they founded BirthdayAlarm.com and with Morgan Sowden they founded Ringo.com (which was sold to tickle.com in 2003). He later founded the online social networking website Bebo[4] with the help of his wife Xochi Birch in January 2005 with a major launch in July 2005. Today, Bebo has over 45 million registered users and has surpassed MySpace in many countries and is currently 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 USD 850 million. Their combined 70% stake yielded a profit of $595 million from the deal.

In June 2008, Michael invested in, and joined the board of, MyStore.com along with Julian Lennon and Gordon Crawford.

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Xochi Birch - tradevibes.com

Xochi Birch was born in Los Angeles and raised in a small town outside of San Francisco, California. She met her husband, Michael Birch, while in London on a study abroad program while in college. They now have two beautiful children and claim they have never forgotten their children's birthday (so far).

In 1994, after Xochi and Michael were married, Xochi moved to London and began a career in the computing industry for an Insurance company. After having children and living outside of the United States for 8 years, Xochi and Michael decided to move to California. They have now settled in a small town not very far from her parents.

She was very enthusiastic when Michael began talking about a website that reminded people of birthdays and other special events. She believed many people, including her husband, could benefit from such a simple idea.

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Xochi Birch - crunchbase.com

Xochi Birch was born in Los Angeles and raised in a small town outside of San Francisco, California. She met her husband, Michael Birch, while in London on a study abroad program while in college. They now have two beautiful children and claim they have never forgotten their children’s birthday (so far).

In 1994, after Xochi and Michael were married, Xochi moved to London and began a career in the computing industry for an Insurance company. After having children and living outside of the United States for 8 years, Xochi and Michael decided to move to California. They have now settled in a small town not very far from her parents.

She was very enthusiastic when Michael began talking about a website that reminded people of birthdays and other special events. She believed many people, including her husband, could benefit from such a simple idea.

 

 

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Valley Girls: Xochi Birch

By Maggie Shiels
Technology Reporter, BBC News, Silicon Valley

xoch and isabella
Xochi Birch: "Technology is changing the world and the way we live."

In the second of a regular series of features profiling influential women in Silicon Valley, Maggie Shiels talks to Xochi Birch - co-founder of social networking site Bebo.

The tale of Xochi Birch's success is common to Silicon Valley.

As a serial entrepreneur, alongside husband Michael, she has spent years starting companies, building them, scrapping them, moving on, beginning all over again. They have even sold some for real cash.

Their biggest success was with social networking site Bebo (Blog Early, Blog Often).

In March 2008 AOL bought Bebo for $850m (£523m).

The teen favourite now has than 40 million international users. Third to Facebook and MySpace in the US it is the number two social networking site in the UK and number one in Ireland.

"It's such a big sum and it's hard to get your head around it. There comes a time when you think, 'well how much can that really buy?' and you don't really know," she said. "It's just hard to imagine."

Hard work

The success with Bebo stands in sharp contrast to Xochi and Michael's early years when they lived from payday to payday while coming up with a winning business.

This was in 1999 when Xochi left a job as a computer programmer at an insurance company to go self-employed.

"I was never a big company type of person and my ideal job was to be self employed. The ironic thing is you work a lot harder for yourself than you do for anybody else.
bebopoly
Bebo faced scepticism when it launched as social networking site

"You heard about all these other internet companies succeeding by starting off in a bedroom or a garage and I felt 'yes, we can do this.'"

1999 was bad time for net entrepreneurs as the dotcom bubble burst, venture capital dried up and lots of companies faced ruin.

"It was definitely one of the most stressful times for us. We were living month to month in London not knowing where the next mortgage payment was going to come from," Xochi said.

"There were times when I thought I should just go get a job," she said. "Life would be so much easier working nine to five for someone else.

"It was a hard time to be in the industry but luckily at the time it was just Michael and I working in our bedroom so we had very little debt. Because we had to be cheap, it helped us innovate."

Big decision

Their first start-ups included online address book LemonLink as well as sites called Babysitting Circle and Friendly Wills. All failed.

Next they tried BirthdayAlarm.com to which users subscribed to get reminders of loved ones' birthdays. It is still owned by the Birch's.
Facebook
ComScore claims Facebook attracts more than 123 million users worldwide

Things changed in 2003 when Xochi noticed Friendster - a site seen as the forerunner of social networking sites.

"I was so intrigued I spent probably an hour just looking at it. I thought this is just a really cool site," she said.

It inspired the pair to set up a similar online business called Ringo which was sold to Monster.com for an undisclosed amount.

"Ringo was growing so fast but we couldn't afford to get the next batch of servers in so we were at a crossroads," she said. "We either had to sell it or raise money. At the time we had three offers and it just seemed like an easy thing to do to sell it, so we did."

At the same time MySpace was emerging and Xochi watched it's crazy growth. She kept an eye on the space because she felt it was a new era for the internet.

"It fascinated me the way people would go online and connect with their friends, with people they didn't know and communicate via these sites."

Game over

The first iteration of Bebo emerge in 2005 and looked very like LemonLink said Xochi.

"It was really a self updating address book and photo sharing site," she said "The first month we got a million members and I think that's when we realised we had something but we didn't know then what to turn it into because we had a million members but nobody was coming back."
Bebo sign
Bebo is designed to appeals to those aged 14-24

The next six months were like walking a tightrope as they worked to persuade people to come back and see what their friends were doing and upload photos.

"When we first started Bebo people thought: 'Why bother?' Game's over. MySpace and Facebook have won the game and there is no point even trying."

The cash from the Ringo sale helped them keep afloat, Xochi said they faced prejudice from the VC community.

"A lot of VC's don't like investing in husband and wife teams. I guess because they think you are going to divorce or something and its seen as an added risk

This just made the Californian native more determined to succeed. A trait she said she got from her dad - a now retired junior college financial aid advisor.

"My dad is Mexican and he grew up as a normal chauvinistic Mexican and he expected my mom to do everything for him.

"I think what really shocked him was having five girls and that changed his attitude completely. So I would say my dad instilled in me a sense of accomplishing things for yourself. Trying to be as independent as possible."

Ideals and dreams

But work is not Xochi's sole motivation. She is now a mother to three young children, including a newborn. Her plans for them, despite her wealth, are simple.

"One of my concerns for my children is growing up with your parents having a lot of money. I know that my happiness has been definitely tied with my achievements.
birch family
10 months after inception, Bebo was voted Best Social Networking Site

"I hope they have goals and ideals and dreams for themselves. I hope they are hard working," she said. "I feel there is a big sense of accomplishment and achievement and self worth through what you do no matter what the job, no matter what you decide to dedicate your life to."

Xochi's daughter Isabella and son Joseph have no real idea of the family's wealth.

"I think they were very disappointed when we sold Bebo," she said.

"They had it in their minds that they would come work for Bebo. As a result they were concerned for our future. My son said: 'It's okay Mom you can learn to sew and that can be your new job.' And Michael is going to be a janitor at their school.

"They have no real concept of the magnitude of what has just happened."

Neither she said do they.

"If I was 20 I would be spending the money completely differently from the way I am now. There is no Ferrari, no private jet. We are buying two homes: one big one in London and one in San Francisco."

Selling out

But there are other plans. Michael has talked of launching a new online dictionary, Xochi is keen to take some time out and work out what's next. Undoubtedly that will involve the net.

"I just could not imagine my life without the internet. I am constantly on it and excited to see how it is going to change our lives and what the next phase is.
och and isabllea
"The best lesson for a business is you don't need a lot of money," says Xochi Birch

"I find with social networking and with Bebo and the internet in general it just really follows humanity. Whatever problems you have offline you have online as well."

Eventually she would like to buy a building in San Francisco where start-ups can come and work and collaborate.

Unusually for founders who sell up, both Michael and Xochi decided that with the AOL deal completed they would walk away.

"I do feel like a sell out," she joked.

"I suppose part of me would have like to continue to grow the company. But I could not have worked for anyone else. No way. When you are used to having the last say and when that changes there is bound to be a conflict of interest."

She acknowledged that walking away from the Bebo family she helped to start was one of the hardest things she has done, it was for the best.

"It is probably the healthiest thing that happened to us."

 

 

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Michael & Xochi Birch, Bebo

31 August 2006 | By Andrew McCormick - nma.co.uk

Xochi Birch is more popular than her husband Michael. She has 54 friends to his 50. Xochi describes Michael as “my honey bun” while he says, “She’s the best.”

Such details can be found on Bebo, the social network that was founded by the Birches last year and has been enjoying explosive growth.

Bebo now has 25m profiles worldwide and ranks second only to News Corp’s MySpace in the social networking sector. It’s actually the sixth website that the couple have created in the last decade. In 2003, having seen the success of Friendster, they set up Ringo, their first attempt at a social network.

“I got the social networking bug,” says Michael. “We launched Ringo at the same time as MySpace and we were a lot bigger than it was back then. But we sold it because, although we were growing, we weren’t making any money. We decided we had to either sell or get funding.”

This time round, Bebo is enjoying an incredible rate of growth and even turning a small profit from advertising. And its hiring needs have increased with its growth. “The staff at Bebo are overstretched,” admits Michael. “We’re constantly looking to hire people.”

Bebo received a VC boost of £15m earlier this year and, it’s rumoured, has been valued at over £300m by potential buyers. Now the founding couple face the challenge of making that valuation of the company a reality.

“Making money isn’t Michael’s strength,” says Xochi. He agrees. “I don’t spend much time trying to make money,” he says. “It can be quite time consuming and I get frustrated if I find I’m developing the site just to make money. Of course it’s important, but it’s a chicken-and-egg thing. If you become the biggest website you can make considerably more money, rather than starting with a small site and spending all your time trying to make money out of it.”

The leading players in the sector have huge amounts of traffic. But until this month, when MySpace received $900m (£475.5m) from Google to handle search and advertising on it for the next four years, the industry remained sceptical about the value of social networks.

Xochi believes that the attention the sector has received is justified. “The MySpace/Google deal is great news for us,” she says. “It epitomises the magnitude and money you can make from social networking and makes the purchase of MySpace look like a great deal.”

In a sector of fickle audiences, Bebo has to challenge MySpace in terms of site features and brand reputation. While the two are level in the UK, in the US MySpace is the top player and Bebo faces an uphill challenge to compete.

“We’re growing faster percentage wise in the US than in any other country,” says Michael. “What makes it harder for us is that MySpace is very established there. We need to get people away from MySpace over there whereas the UK was a relatively virgin market when we launched.”

With market share comes potential ad revenue, but the balance between offering advertisers opportunities and keeping hold of audiences is difficult for social networks. With this in mind, Michael has proposed letting Bebo users select areas they’re interested in, such as music, cars or dating and receive only related ads.

“We’re looking at a way for Beboers to select themes so we can target them with ads they’re interested in,” he says. “We want to give them a choice so that if, say, they have a partner and don’t want to see dating ads, they can choose not to. Advertisers will pay a premium for that.”

Personalisation of ads was suggested by a Beboer, and responding to the community is key to continued success. Now users are demanding a mobile service, which will be the next major battlefield in the sector. Faceparty revealed plans to launch a full version on mobile earlier this month, while others are in talks with operators and mobile companies (NMA 01.06.06). But Michael isn’t keen to get an early lead in this race.

“We don’t feel compelled to be leaders in mobile,” he says, “I don’t think getting there first would offer us an advantage. Mobile will be super-important to us long term, but we’re still at the early stages of analysing what we want to do.”

While Bebo, MySpace and YouTube, among others, enjoy huge success, social networks are dogged by concerns over child safety in the media.

“It’s been blown out of proportion compared to the reality,” says Michael, “but at the same time we don’t want to downplay the issue and we’re addressing it as much as we possibly can.

“The reality is that social networking is so new that best practice hasn’t really been established. Most parents aren’t using social networks so they don’t understand the issue. They read the papers and say, ‘Oh my God, there’s the paedo word,’ and have a sudden paranoia about it without understanding what it’s about.”

Michael criticises schools and teachers who ban children from accessing social networks. “Schools are in a great position to educate children about how to be safe online,” he says. “That’s starting to happen now but schools have reacted with a similar view to parents with a gut reaction of blocking something. Blocking something doesn’t necessarily fix it.”

With their impressive record in building Bebo to become a global player in only 12 months, the Birches now have a role to play in working with rivals to improve the image of the sector.

Bebo, along with rival social networks, is working with the Home Office Task Force on Child Protection on the Internet. It also hired Dr Rachel O’Connell, an internet safety expert from the University of Central Lancashire, in June.

Tackling these concerns head-on fits with the couple’s can-do attitude, summed up by Michael’s Bebo home page which declares, “I like traffic lights, but only when they’re green.”

“We want to grow Bebo as big as possible,” he says. “We took a long time to get here and we don’t want to have to go back and start again. We want to build something greater.”

 

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AOL+Bebo=More Rich Web Entrepreneurs! - Xochi Birch

allthingsd.com

gravytrain

After its AOL division paid out an insane $850 million for social-networking site Bebo yesterday, one had to wonder if the true digital legacy of Time Warner (TWX) will be as the perpetual gravy train for legions of Web players.

It certainly seems that way, from the original AOL execs who “merged” their company with Time Warner in 2000 and cashed out at the peak right after the deal to the series of ad-networking start-up entrepreneurs who got acquired, took their payouts and skedaddled right on through to the two founders of Bebo–Michael and Xochi Birch–who didn’t even stay long enough for a latte after grabbing their chunk of the payday Time Warner was handing out in crisp bank notes for the social-networking site they founded.

And, more importantly, after one digital misstep after the next dating back to its Pathfinder days–which I have likened to watching someone fall down an endless staircase–one also has to wonder if Time Warner will ever see any of the upside of the Internet itself.

I remain dubious.

And after interviewing numerous sources close to the company yesterday after the Bebo deal was announced, I am even more certain of more trouble ahead.

Here’s why:

1. While I have always admired Bebo for its innovation and cool ideas about content (I love its “KateModern” online series, as you can see here), AOL essentially just forked over all that money for an audience of primarily teenagers in England, which is Bebo’s biggest market by far (but where Facebook has pulled to No. 1 in a year).

And while Bebo execs would argue with me about this, especially since international aspirations were touted by AOL yesterday, it has no more international traction than much more powerful leaders Facebook and MySpace. More significantly, its size in the important U.S. market, which is hoped will be helped by a marketing boost from AOL, is small and further traction remains questionable.

To be fair, AOL also touted the high engagement levels, which Bebo does have in terms of both minutes and page view per user.

burnsandsmithers

2. Sources close to the company say AOL CEO Randy Falco and President Ron Grant–who are none-too-lovingly called Burns and Smithers at AOL–kept the deal a relative secret from most other execs, including those who might be majorly impacted.

It is not abnormal for acquisitions to be done in a tight group, but was apparently excessive in this case, and reminds one of the sneakiness of former Time Warner CEO Jerry Levin in the troubled AOL merger.

3. Sources said Falco had repeatedly told execs at AOL that he had to do a “big property” acquisition to move the needle, which has not been exactly moving at the unit of late, in order to show Wall Street that AOL had a social-networking strategy. “It’s like constantly scrambling eggs, by doing big new moves, you can hide the problems,” said one exec.

4. The turmoil in its online advertising unit, dubbed Platform A back in the fall, is real and profound and extraordinarily troublesome, given that it is supposed to be the engine to make the Bebo financial projections work at AOL. As I wrote earlier, Bebo needs that jump-start given its small revenues and profits.

The recent departure of three of the key executives who were supposed to be part of Platform A’s success–VP of Marketing Solutions Kathy Kayse and EVP for Global Advertising Strategy Dave Morgan in February, as well as Platform A President Curt Viebranz last week–is worrisome, even though it has been floated by AOL as a housecleaning.

But, curiously, all get good marks for competence from many and had, in fact, been recently touted as saviors by AOL. They do share one thing in common, said several sources: Run-ins with Grant, over cuts in spending and disagreement over aggressive sales projections in a recessionary economy.

In addition, all the key execs from its Tacoda acquisition are gone, along with those from its Quigo buy.

And, while its Advertising.com top exec Lynda Clarizio has taken over Platform A and is considered a strong exec and a “go-getter,” many sources told me she also reportedly had similar testy run-ins with Grant, before he recently was quoted on her promotion: “There is no one better qualified to do this than Lynda, whose track record at Advertising.com has been nothing short of stellar.”

While corporate departures and infighting are also common at many companies, especially over budgets and performance expectations, the level of rancor at AOL has been high.

5. Perhaps most importantly, it remains a mystery to me and many others I talked to yesterday that AOL has not truly attempted to take its very powerful properties like AIM and ICQ and make them more social, building applications on top of already robust ones and partnering around the Web.

“Didn’t AOL invent the social graph with Buddy Lists?” said one perplexed Silicon Valley luminary to me. Yes, indeedy, it did.

Thus, I am still trying to figure out why AOL–which was built on the pillars of community, communications and connectivity–has consistently not been able to leverage its still-valuable assets.

blockandtackle

I suppose it is sexier to do a big, splashy deal, of course, which takes focus away–for a while at least–of the essential need to take hits, while doing the slow block-and-tackle work it will require to really build a strong ad and social network.

Buying Bebo, the third-ranked social network, for so much and trying to turbocharge it is a very lofty goal, of course, but the real problem with the acquisition is that it feels like an answer in search of a question.

While Bebo President Joanna Shields–who will enter the AOL exec team as part of the deal–and the Birches have clearly built a very interesting property, the weight of Falco’s calling it a “game-changer” on which AOL’s future rides could turn out to be much too much for Bebo to carry.

That is, especially with that heavy bag of Time Warner cash it is also shouldering.

Posted at 3:01 AM PT on March 14, 2008
Buzz up! Share 4 Comments Tagged: BoomTown, digital, social networking, Advertising.com, AIM, AOL, Bebo, Curt Viebranz, Dave Morgan, ICQ, Joanna Shields, Kathy Kayse, Lynda Clarizio, Michael Birch, Platform A, Quigo, Randy Falco, Ron Grant, Tacoda, Time Warner, Xochi Birch | permalink
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Bebo: By the (Not So Big) Numbers

bebologo

What’s AOL getting for its $850 million in cash to purchase of social-networking site, Bebo?

A very attractive social-networking service and a very experienced exec who has been running it.

But, perhaps more importantly for those who focus on pesky numbers, not a whole lot of revenue and negligible profits, judging financial information I got a gander at, courtesy of sources at several companies that looked at funding or buying Bebo.

And the rest of the overall outlook for Bebo? A small but growing business, with nice user engagement with strong page views and minutes spent per session, but little traction beyond Britain and Ireland, and too small a presence in the critical U.S. market.

(Bebo is also strong in New Zealand, but BoomTown does not have to point out that that country is not exactly the kind of game-changer that AOL CEO Randy Falco mentioned in his email to the troops about the purchase.)

According to the several sources who were privy to Bebo’s financials, for example, Bebo’s revenues for 2006 were only $7 million with $3 million in EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization). In 2007, the results are still small, with $20 million in revenues and $5 million in EBITDA.

Using 2007 results, that means Time Warner’s (TWZ) AOL paid a handsome 42.5 times revenues and an incredible 160 times EBITDA.

AOL might assert that it makes Bebo a bargain, given that Facebook got valued at 50 times revenue when it got that $15 billion valuation from the $240 million investment from Microsoft (MSFT) last year. Still, Facebook has a huge presence in the U.S. and is growing strongly in Europe, including being just ahead in Bebo’s strongest territory in the U.K.

Projecting outward, the company estimated–remember, these are not actual numbers, but a best guess by Bebo execs–it would have $50 million in revenue and $10 million in EBITDA in 2008; $117 million in revenue and $48 million in revenue in 2009 and $193 million in revenue and $92 million in EBITDA in 2010.

While potential is important, the high price (which was still lower than the $1 billion and above that Bebo might have fetched even six months ago) and its small presence in the U.S. were the reasons several companies passed on acquiring Bebo–including News Corp. (NWS), Google (GOOG), Yahoo (YHOO) and CBS (CBS), said sources close to each of these companies.

On the plus side, users do spend a lot of time on Bebo, engaged by its more robust content offerings, such as its “KateModern” series (which I wrote about here), and its elegant and content-rich offering, which has some of the cleanness of a Facebook and some of the flash of MySpace.

bebo

In addition, in Bebo’s president Joanna Shields (pictured here somewhat awkwardly shaking AOL CEO Falco’s hand and with AOL President and COO Ron Grant), AOL gets an experienced and savvy Web exec, which it desperately needs these days, given the flux there.

Shields has worked at RealNetworks and Google and she will continue to run Bebo and report to Grant. In fact, Shields has effectively been running Bebo for a while now, and its founders Michael Birch and Xochi Birch will be leaving the company.

 

 


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