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Bebo, Inc.
Type Private
Founded January 2005 (2005-01)[1]
Headquarters San Francisco, California, United States
Area served Worldwide
Founder(s) Michael Birch
Xochi Birch
Key people Shaan Puri
Products Social Apps on iOS and Android
Services Social Apps, Social Networking
Operating income $1.1 million (USD)
Profit N/A
Owner Michael Birch
Xochi Birch
Parent The Monkey Inferno
Divisions iOS and Android
Slogan(s) Blog Early, Blog Often
Website .com.bebowww
Alexa rank Decrease 22,708 (July 2014)[2]
Type of site Company website
Advertising Banner ads
Registration N/A
Available in Multilingual
Launched July 2005 - 7 August 2013
Current status Open as an App developer only
As of November 15, 2014

Bebo was a social networking website launched in 2005. Bebo now calls itself "a company that dreams up ideas for fun social apps" and Joe Mbu, the man behind the Bebo relaunch, has confirmed that the site will not be returning as a social network but as a company that makes social apps. . The company is launching new apps called Blab and Hug in late 2014 or early 2015.[3]

As of July 2013, it is owned and operated by its founders Michael Birch and Xochi Birch, who took over from Criterion Capital Partners after the company declared bankruptcy.[4]

The website, at the height of its popularity, overtook Myspace to become the most widely used social networking website in the United Kingdom,[5][6] eventually registering at least 10.7 million unique users. The site was also extremely popular in Ireland – at one point it claimed to have over a million Irish users, and data from Alexa ranked it as Ireland's most-visited site. Its popularity saw it sold to AOL for $850 million in 2008.


  • Original Website Features 1
    • Lifestream 1.1
    • Bebo Mobile 1.2
    • Bebo Authors 1.3
    • Bebo Groups 1.4
    • Bebo Third Party Login 1.5
    • Bebo Chat 1.6
    • Bebo system 1.7
    • Open Media Platform 1.8
    • Open application platform 1.9
    • Privacy and security 1.10
      • Inadvertent privacy breach by New Zealand ISP 1.10.1
    • Roleplay 1.11
  • History 2
    • Criterion Capital Partners ownership transfer 2.1
    • 2013 bankruptcy and sale 2.2
  • References 3
  • External links 4

Original Website Features

Users received a personal profile page where they would post blogs, photographs, music, videos, and questionnaires, which other users may answer. Additionally, users could add others as friends and send them messages, and update their personal profiles to notify friends about themselves.[1]

Each Bebo User received a profile, which included two specific modules: a comment section where other users could leave a message, and a list of the user's friends. Users could select from many more modules to add. By default, when an account was created the profile was private, which limited access to friends specifically added. The user could select the "Public Profile" option so the profile would still be visible to any other members of a school they may have joined. Bebo was youth based and the initial group of connections was based on others from the same school or schools they attended, creating a 'walled garden' viewed by some as more private than MySpace. Profiles may be personalized by a design template that is the background of the user's profile, known as a skin. Profiles may include quizzes which offer multiple choice, polls for their friends to vote in and comment on, photo albums which allows the user to upload an unlimited number of images with a maximum limit of 96 per album, blogs with a comments section, a list of bands of which the user is a fan, a list of groups that the user is a member of. A "Video Box" may be added, either hot-linked from YouTube or copied from a Bebo Media Content Provider's page.


These changes included uploaded photos, updated flashboxes, and newly added videos and friends. A friend's updates to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and other services can also be viewed, if those friends have linked those accounts to their Bebo profile. The site has a number of privacy settings, where users can control which items from their profile appear on their and their friends' lifestream pages (e.g. photos, their "sayings", applications, comments, etc.)

Bebo Mobile

Bebo launched the mobile version of the site in early 2006, allowing users access Bebo from a mobile device. In 2007 and 2010, the mobile site was updated to match the design and features of the full site...

Bebo Authors

On February 22, 2007, Bebo Authors, also known as Bebo Books, was launched. On this section of the site, authors can upload chapters of their books and also get them reviewed with a certain module.

Bebo Groups

On July 10, 2007, the "Group" module was added to pages. This enabled people to view groups which were previously joined to a school and were also viewable only to school members. Bebo also gave an option to convert existing Authors or Bands to Groups.[7]

Bebo Third Party Login

Users can log in and/or make a Bebo account using their existing Facebook account (using a service called Facebook Connect), their AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) account, and a number of other third party services.

Bebo Chat

A service called Bebo Chat was launched with several other updates in 2011, which allows users to chat to other users, using a Meebo chat plugin with Bebo branding. Users can also update their 'Saying' and show their availability status, as well as have access to other links to Bebo's pages, and special offers. It also provides a link for users to visit Bebo's fan page on Facebook, where they can 'Like' their page and receive updates.

Bebo system

Bebo runs on servers running the Resin Server and uses the Oracle Database system. It is estimated that Bebo had somewhere between 5000 and 8000 Phantom4 servers provided by Rackable Systems and has over 100TB of disk space across all of their servers.

Open Media Platform

Announced on the November 13, 2007, Bebo's Open Media Platform is a platform for companies to distribute content to the Bebo community. Content providers can bring their media player to Bebo, and monetize the advertising within it. Each content provider has a specialised page designed for video which showcases any Adobe Flash video content at the top of the profile. Many networks are signed up for the service, including CBS, Sky,, BBC and

Open application platform

Bebo joined OpenSocial, a set of common APIs for building social applications across the web. It announced plans for a developers platform and said it will make a further platform announcement. Bebo's Open Application Platform was launched in early December 2007 with just over fifty applications and is now host to hundreds.

Privacy and security

Inadvertent privacy breach by New Zealand ISP

On May 21, 2008, some users in New Zealand were temporarily given full access to other users' accounts.[8] Various users logged in under their own account were switched over to the accounts of other users at random intervals, some people gaining access to over 20 different users' accounts. People were sometimes given access to addresses and phone numbers of other members, and some took advantage of the situation by uploading pornography onto other members' accounts.[9] Bebo network engineers traced the error to a misconfigured proxy server in an Internet service provider (ISP) in New Zealand, which was later fixed. The ISP seemed to be interfering with its cache, thereby causing some of its customers to receive cached cookies and details from other users, likely because the ISP used dynamic IP addresses.


Bebo is sometimes used for role-playing characters from television programs, movies and novels. These Bebo character profiles are created and maintained by individuals, similar to a virtual world profile. The profiles may be of a fictional character or an invented character, and are most commonly set up in Bebo's 'classic layout' with the character's name, quotation, and biography.[10][11]


Bebo was founded by husband-and-wife team Michael and Xochi Birch in January 2005 at their home in San Francisco.[1] The website name was bought by the founders, and the backronym "Blog Early, Blog Often" was invented to answer the question of what the name meant.[12][13]

The site was purchased by AOL on March 13, 2008 for $850 million, with the Birches' combined 70% stake yielding a profit of $595 million from the deal.[14][15][16] The BBC said that the AOL purchase of Bebo was "one of the worst deals ever made in the dotcom era",[17] and it cost the then-CEO of AOL, Randy Falco, his job.[18]

On April 7, 2010, AOL announced that it would either sell the website,[19] or shut it down. This was mainly due to the falling numbers of unique users; Bebo users were moving to rival sites Facebook and Twitter. AOL said that Bebo could not compete with other social networking sites in its current state, and that the company could not commit to taking on the massive task to keep Bebo in the social network 'race'. It has been reported that AOL's finances were struggling.

Criterion Capital Partners ownership transfer

On June 16, 2010, AOL sold Bebo to hedge fund operators Criterion Capital Partners.[20][21]

On February 17, 2011, Bebo launched a brand-new design. This consisted of a new more modern Header, a new more modernized Home page and a New Profile Layout Option. Users can now see who has visited their profiles (a feature which can be changed in settings). In April 2011, Bebo added a new Notification system, similar to Facebook's. It notifies users on new inbox messages, lifestream activity and more. This was a feature which was heavily asked for in feedback.

On January 30, 2012, access to Bebo became unavailable for 36 hours, resuming normal service during the early hours of February 1, 2012. A Bebo spokesperson told TechCrunch that the site was down due to "a technical clusterfuck".[22] Adam Levin, CEO of Bebo and Criterion Capital Partners, stated that they were trying to release some new features which caused the site to crash. No data was lost as a result of the outage. The crash triggered a belief that Bebo was gone for good, so that the hashtag #bebomemories trended worldwide on Twitter.[23]

2013 bankruptcy and sale

In May 2013, the company voluntarily filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.[24][25] However, Burke Capital Corporation receiver has clarified that Bebo remains "healthy" and "operating," and that the company was using its May 9 Chapter 11 filing in Los Angeles to "restructure some operational inefficiencies and other arrangements that are burdensome." Many analysts have questioned the value proposition that Bebo could offer users and do not fault CCP.[26]

On July 1, 2013, Michael and Xochi Birch, the original founders, purchased the social network back from Criterion Capital Partners (CCP) for $1 million. They tweeted "We just bought Bebo back for $1m. Can we actually re-invent it? Who knows, but it'll be fun trying."[27]

On August 6, 2013, messages were posted on informing users that the site would be down for maintenance from August 7, 2013.

On August 7, 2013, a video featuring Michael announcing his plan for the new Bebo was set to the front page of the site.[28] The video informed users that the site would be taken down while the Bebo team developed the new product. Many believed that this would be normal maintenance, however it was revealed that the site would be closed for a few months. The announcement also stated that every user's content had been deleted, but any blog posts and images they had will be retrievable in downloadable format should members opt in to receive this, members who submitted emails still haven't retrieved profile data (pictures, blogs, etc.).

Users would simply have to register their email with the site to be notified of the site's reopening, and would be able to retrieve some of their information.

Friends lists and skins will not be retrievable.[29]

In April 2014 Bebo started distribution of its smartphone apps, but the social network is still not available.[30]

As of November 15, 2014, the site is still under maintenance.


  1. ^ a b c Burkeman, Oliver (2006-11-04). "Bebo, Michael and Xochi Birch". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-06-14. 
  2. ^ " – Traffic Details from Alexa".  
  3. ^
  4. ^ Bebo founder pays $1m to buy back site sold to AOL for $850m. Retrieved on 2013-07-03.
  5. ^ Steve O'Hear (2007-08-14). "Bebo overtakes MySpace in the UK". ZDNet. 
  6. ^ Jessi Hempel (2007-09-19). "Bebo's British invasion". Fortune. 
  7. ^ Group Surf. Retrieved on 2013-01-03.
  8. ^ Glitch opens Bebo users' private details to others – National – NZ Herald News. (2008-05-22). Retrieved on 2013-01-03.
  9. ^ Bebo's HUGE error! (UPDATED). (2008-05-21)
  10. ^ "How to Be a Bebo Roleplayer: 11 steps". wikiHow. 2010-11-18. Retrieved 2012-10-25. 
  11. ^ "How to Be the Best Bebo Roleplayer You Can Be: 7 steps". wikiHow. 2012-01-31. Retrieved 2012-10-25. 
  12. ^ Michael Birch speaking on the BBC Radio 4 programme "The Bottom Line" broadcast on June 30, 2011.
  13. ^ "How to make 80 million friends and influence people", The Independent (2011-02-11)
  14. ^ Edgecliffe, Andrew. (2008-03-13) / In depth – AOL to ‘supercharge’ Bebo revenues. Retrieved on 2013-01-03.
  15. ^ "AOL acquires Bebo social network". BBC News. 2008-03-13. Archived from the original on 15 March 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-13. 
  16. ^ "AOL to 'supercharge' Bebo revenues".  
  17. ^ "Bebo sold by AOL after just two years". BBC News. 2010-06-17. Archived from the original on 17 June 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-17. 
  18. ^ Bebo Not Worth a Pail of Spit to AOL? This Comes as a Shock to Exactly–Hmm–No One. (2010-04-07). Retrieved on 2013-01-03.
  19. ^ AOL planning to sell Bebo. (2010-04-07). Retrieved on 2013-01-03.
  20. ^ AOL To Sell Bebo to Criterion Capital Partners. (2010-06-16). Retrieved on 2013-01-03.
  21. ^ Criterion Capital Partners Acquires Bebo from AOL. (2010-06-17). Retrieved on 2013-01-03.
  22. ^ Ha, Anthony (2012-01-30). "Is Bebo Finally Dead? (Update: Not Quite)". TechCrunch. 
  23. ^ McCarra, Darren (2012-01-30). "Bebo may have just shutdown". The Sociable. 
  24. ^ "Social Network Bebo Has Filed A Voluntary Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Petition".  
  25. ^ [1]
  26. ^ "Bebo files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy". 
  27. ^ Pow, Helen (2013-07-01). "Bebo founders buy back worthless social network for million after selling it to AOL for $850million just five years ago". Daily Mail (London). 
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^ page at April 3, 2014

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