Monday, October 02, 2006

Bebo worth mega bucks

Four-and-a-half years after Michael and Xochi Birch created it is one of the hottest properties on the internet. In less than two years it has acquired more than 27m users and claims to have overtaken MySpace to become the leading social-networking website in the UK and Ireland.

“At the moment there’s a race for traffic,” says Birch and for public relations practitioners this mantra is critical as well. It is worth watching how Birch is going about doing it.

According to The Sunday Times Bebo still has only 15 full-time employees, including four in London, and as yet generates modest revenues from advertising. But its huge and growing audience of young users has prompted suggestions that the business is already worth hundreds of millions of pounds.

Sounds fanciful? It might have been last year, before News Corporation (ultimate owner of The Sunday Times) paid $580m (£310m) for the company behind MySpace.

Birch is adamant that he has no interest in selling. “We used to follow conversations a bit more (when we received approaches). Now we pretty much just say ‘No’ immediately. I was more curious to begin with.