Monday, October 5, 2009 by Jim
Husband and wife team Michael and Xochi Birch banked a cool £295 million today after selling social network Bebo to the AOL division of Time Warner for $850 million in cash. Yes, that’s cash! Keeerrrching!!Even by web2 standards it’s an amazing exit for a business started less than three years ago.It’s also a real result for UK entrepreneurship. While’s Xochi’s a Californian and the business has been US-based for the past 18 months, Michael’s a Brit and idea was born and started in London.Perhaps now people will stop staring enviously at web2 mega acquisitions and asking ‘where’s our MySpace?’. Building a user base of 40 million in little over two years and selling at what looks like the optimum moment should answer that question once and for all.It also hopefully proves that UK web2 companies can succeed and prosper by working with and in the US while maintaining their roots. It should also bolster the creditibility of the London web2 scene to US investors.The Birchs’ success (let’s not overlook co-founder and brother Paul) should also provide huge inspiration to those plugged away trying to make ideas reality and ends meet.Bebo was Michael’s sixth web business, with both failures and limited successes behind him. Through perseverance and belief he’s finally hit gold.Let’s just hope the confirmed rise in capital gains tax doesn’t disuade him from doing it again.