The business and culture of our digital lives,
from the L.A. Times

« Previous Post | Technology Home | Next Post »

Bebo founders bid adieu: Thanks for the $850 million and the memories

June 6, 2008 |  4:06 pm

The bustle on the streets of San Francisco was winding down, but inside 1015, a South of Market dance club, the beat was just getting started.

Auren Hoffman, Michael Birch and Rob Bailey Bebo's husband-and-wife founders Michael and Xochi Birch rented out the club Thursday night, opening the bar and their hearts to the employees and friends of the social networking site they sold to AOL in March for an eye-popping $850 million.

The private party on two floors gave these gracious hosts a chance to celebrate their success and thank their supporters.

Talk about a social network. The digerati turned out in force to toast and get toasted -- Slide's Keith Rabois, former PayPaler and Internet entrepreneur Dave McClure, AdBrite founder Philip Kaplan, Socialzr founder Jonathan Abrams, even MC Hammer, who has gotten into a groove with his own dance-themed social network, DanceJam.

Michael Birch drank for two as Xochi is pregnant with their third child. Both did a lot of beaming and hugging. And with good reason. Just how could life get any fuller? Time will tell.

Birch, who won over Silicon Valley with his entrepreneurial instincts, sharp wit, lilting British accent and long blond mane, is bound by a non-compete contract. But the couple are staying put -- at least for the time being -- in their San Francisco loft. And Birch, a start-up veteran who enjoys investing in other aspiring young entrepreneurs, is likely to do more of the same over the next few years.

We can't imagine it will take long for him to make more news, perhaps even at Buckingham Palace, per the suggestion of one party goer. Sir Michael Birch? When it comes to worthy subjects from the high-tech sector, the British subject, like father-of-the-Web Tim Berners-Lee, would have a leg up on knighted Microsoft founder Bill Gates. (Non-Brits can't receive the title "Sir.")

Their good fortune didn't seem to phase the Birches, who seemed royally content with the opportunity to be king and queen for the night.

-- Jessica Guynn

Photo: From left, Auren Hoffman, Michael Birch and Rob Bailey. Courtesy of Auren Hoffman