Edit: Thanks Reddit, this has been fun - a token of my appreciation! - http://imgur.com/0h4PqtS

*#1 on the Homepage, you all sure know how to make a grown man blush *

My short bio: Just saw the TIL post http://www.reddit.com/r/todayilearned/comments/1okd73/til_michael_birch_the_founder_of_bebo_sold_bebo/ this morning, and thought it would be fun to do an AMA.

Yes we announced our comeback with a cock & balls video on youtube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lm9J8Glk0bE

NO I am not Michael Birch, my name is Shaan Puri - I'm the CEO of Bebo. Think of me like a younger, less billionairey, more Indian version of him. http://www.twitter.com/shaanvp

My Proof: http://www.twitter.com/bebo_official

My short bio: Just saw the TIL post http://www.reddit.com/r/todayilearned/comments/1okd73/til_michael_birch_the_founder_of_bebo_sold_bebo/ this morning, and thought it would be fun to do an AMA.

This has been fun. BONUS for Reddit = checkout http://vimeo.com/74682794# , password = 'welcome'. I love AMA, and am building an AMA platform for the rest of the world. What do you guys think?

NO I am not Michael Birch, my name is Shaan Puri - I'm the CEO of Bebo. Think of me like a younger, less billionairey, more indian version of him. http://www.twitter.com/shaanvp

Yes we announced our comeback with a cock & balls video on youtube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lm9J8Glk0bE

My Proof: http://www.twitter.com/bebo_official + http://twitter.com/shaanvp

Comments: 2617 • Responses: 55  • Date: 

hinesh1421 karma


BeboTIL3349 karma

different from Facebook = less bloated with features/people, more fun.

different from Google+ = hopefully more than 9 people use Bebo

Salacious-509 karma

hopefully more than 9 people use Bebo

And how do you plan to achieve that? I mean, Google went into it with some pretty hefty advantages, like that they can tie it to gmail and their other services. Not to mention all the money they have to promote it.

What (specifically) does Bebo have going into it that Google+ doesn't?

BeboTIL744 karma

in all seriousness -

It's not that we have any advantages that Google+ didn't. They of course had more users, bigger budgets etc...

That's why we went in the opposite direction. Bebo is being rebuilt by 3 people (2 developers + 1 designer). It's a small startup, and we're treating it that way. We are testing (off-brand) lots of different concepts that we think are interesting (and borderline weird).

Decisions are being made by a small innovative team rather than a large committee (greatness never comes from consensus).

In the end, I think that taking a true startup approach, with a small hungry team testing multiple new ideas will lead us to creating a simple product. Something that does ONE unique thing, really damn well.

Our advantage is that we don't have the pressure, nor the resources. We're not the Yankees. This creates a necessity for speed & innovation.

Salacious-318 karma

Underdog spirit and all is cool, but I fail to see how that will attract users.

It seems that social networks like this are hard to break into because you need to have an untapped market or a market where users are so dissatisfied that they'll break out of their former network.

Reddit and Digg were a perfect example. When Digg got to the breaking point (V4) it was abandoned in droves in favor of Reddit. Facebook is another great example. It marketed itself originally to college students, who were dissatisfied with MySpace and how it had been overrun with preteens and advertisers. But, has it gotten bad enough with all of their new additions to break out? Google+ seems to indicate that it has not. The problem is that you only want to use a social network if your peers are using it... which means that it's really difficult to get a critical mass of people involved before it gets "cool."

And I don't really see how your decision making process is going to sway that group necessary for critical mass.

BeboTIL241 karma

Good point.

To clarify - I think having a different process will yield a different result.

nightofgrim152 karma

Small team indeed. Are you accepting resumes?

BeboTIL320 karma

yes, if you're an iOS or Android developer :)

daniell61134 karma

what caused the MASSIVE price change? (sell 800+ mill buy 1 mill)

BeboTIL506 karma

exponential growth --> exponential decay

floor-pi39 karma

Decisions are being made by a small innovative team

Have you any strategy for this innovation? Or is it just a 'try it and see' situation?

BeboTIL297 karma

wait, try it and see isn't a strategy!?

Hamburker995 karma

Over the years a lot of social networking sites have popped up and disappeared. It looks like the most successful new social networks have not tried to overtake facebook and twitter, but instead have focused on one specific purpose and have flourished in a smaller, niche market and emphasized going mobile (look at instagram, vine, snapchat, pinterest, circle, etc).

Can you tell us which direction Bebo is going in?

BeboTIL1176 karma

that direction.

+1 for hamburker

udpudp671 karma

I think a lot of people are wondering:

What exactly is Bebo and how does it differ from other more well known social media sites like Facebook or Google+?

No BS marketing buzzword answers!

BeboTIL2624 karma

It's going to be a truly Innovative, Ground Breaking, Flat Designed product that exists at the intersection of Mobile, Social, Profit and Non-Profit. Oh and LOTS of Synergy.

nomercymayhem595 karma

Do you have a secret obsession when it comes to drawing cock and balls?

BeboTIL1091 karma

don't we all?

simon_wang12574 karma

How did you go in the how bisexual are you quiz

BeboTIL932 karma


PaulioG478 karma

Hi I used to be a Bebo user in Ireland back when I was a teenager. One of the things that happened toward the end of its big draw in Ireland I felt was an influx of very young people and the shift of the older crowd 16-20 moving on to Facebook. Do you think you can capture the 16-30 ish crowd again? Also how long do you think Facebook will last ie. will it outlast the eb and flow of social websites ( ie. myspace, msn and bebo)?

BeboTIL395 karma

I unfortunately have never had the pleasure of traveling to Ireland. Can I ask you a question - what's the sentiment about Bebo in ireland? The emails we get from Irish users are phenomenal. They are almost all positive (compared to other countries, where the reaction is mixed). Would you agree or disagree?

Brad_Wesley439 karma

Has the NSA approached you yet about getting access to your servers?

BeboTIL1125 karma

It makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside that the NSA would want access to the millions of cockdrawings from the old Bebo.

notathr0waway1476 karma

Note the non-answer!

BeboTIL948 karma

I thought the real answer was a bit boring. No they haven't approached us

Axis_of_Uranus391 karma

What do you think about this?

They seem to use a logo strongly inspired by Bebo.

javitee91 karma

Bebo by Dr. Dre

BeboTIL190 karma

now you're thinking. If you can't sue'm, join'em.

PetalJiggy45 karma

Ya, he's not gonna answer this. The lawyers most definitely have some litigation lined up.

BeboTIL245 karma

wanna bet?

DrPhilAccio307 karma


BeboTIL363 karma

I like to think that we can all make cock & balls videos, regardless of wealth. Those damn 1%ers!

alexisaboss248 karma

Hi, first off thanks for doing this, I was just wondering what made you buy it back? Do you have any plans for it, or was it just out of sentiment?

BeboTIL331 karma

As background - we have an idea lab called The Monkey Inferno based in San Francisco, so we had a team in place and ideas to re-invent Bebo.

As for sentiment - that's definitely there, nobody likes to see their baby go down - but not the reason we bought it back. We like the challenge of making a comeback (few have ever done it in tech), and we genuinely believe in the new idea we have...so it made sense to do a low risk / high reward type of acquisition.

The big problem in social products is getting critical mass. From our youtube video alone we got over 250k signups in 2 months. So if we actually can build something great - we know it will get in many peoples hands right away. With so many apps and so much noise -that's valuable.

SpiderHuman226 karma

I wouldn't be able to help feeling a little smug or clever if this were me. At that point I'd probably say to myself, "I can bring it back and sell it for $850 million again! I can do anything! I am a golden god!"

BeboTIL594 karma

When we went into the auction to buy-back Bebo, Michael's last minute advice for me - "try not to go over $850M"

SnorkellingDust119 karma

What amount did you start with?

BeboTIL400 karma

bidding started at $50k (auction procedures) and went up in increments of $25k to start.

We were going head to head vs. 2 other companies. We finally got Match.com to quit the bidding when we bid $1,010,000.

SnorkellingDust160 karma

Thanks for the answer! I wonder why would Match.com want to buy Bebo given they (their parent company, anyways) already have OKCupid and if they seriously wanted to own it why did they back out at just(!) a million dollars?

BeboTIL332 karma

I asked them. They basically wanted to turn it into another crappy dating site.

The email base for Bebo is over 40M, and every day there's thousands of people hitting the site (from strong Google SEO) - those are free customer leads for them.

That would have been a major bummer, I'm glad we won the auction.

SnorkellingDust181 karma

That explains a lot. 40m emails for a million is a pretty sweet deal + the domain authority. Congrats and good luck!

BeboTIL631 karma

Can't wait to tell the rest of the team that SnorkellingDust has wished us goodluck!

ShJC79 karma

How do these auctions work? Do you sit in a room with an auctioneer in front with a gavel or is it web based? Always been curious about this.

BeboTIL359 karma

Sat in a room with an auctioneer. It was one of the top 5 most exciting moments of my life.

It's like playing poker, but without the cards or the chips. You just stare at each other and then as the auctioneer counts down (going once...going twice...) you jump in and say a higher bid.

The key is to make the other party feel like you could do this all day (eg. you have no limits). In actuality, our winning bid ($1,010,000) was our absolute top limit that we had authorization to bid for. Luckily, the other side didn't know that!

Historicaldog595 karma

I can picture a match.com exec reading this and raging around their office

GnosticGnome59 karma

A neat picture, but I don't think I understand. If it was worth >$1,035,000 to match.com wouldn't they have bid $1,035,000? If Bebo were at the top of their bid they'd profit and if Bebo could go all day then a match.com representative is out an extra 5 seconds of time for prolonging the auction.

So why is it key to make the other party feel like you have no limits? Aren't both sides just authorized up to a certain value and the only advantage to knowing the other side's value is in order to abuse the bid increment to shave a few bucks off the price?

BeboTIL75 karma

Just a guess - but the top decision maker usually isn't at the table. It's someone on their behalf. That person came in with a budget, in order to go over that they would need to call NY and get approval.

MAINO247 karma

Could we use your website for mass advertisement of our products?

BeboTIL302 karma

lol. not sure if serious...

Tommysquare239 karma

Can you send me some love please?

BeboTIL448 karma


no_talent_ass_clown189 karma

As you can see from my Reddit account, I am a sucker for social media.

However, I quit Facebook in 2009, having seen what it was about, and I quit Twitter in 2010.

Why should I join Bebo?

BeboTIL371 karma

Can I answer your question with a question of my own? Why did you quit Facebook and Twitter?

Is it OK for me to conduct market research while I'm doing this?

hero0fwar122 karma

Any real hopes of your site being popular again?

BeboTIL432 karma

This is the greatest backhanded questions I've ever seen

voodoomer111 karma

Why did you buy it back in an age that is dominated by the big 3? (Twitter, Facebook, and instagram)

BeboTIL401 karma

Think about when Twitter and Instagram first started. It seemed highly unlikely that either would rise to prominence.

Twitter? 140 Characters? Isn't this a Facebook Status? Who wants to know what you're eating for breakfast?

Instagram? Why would I post photos here rather than on Facebook? etc..

Both were able to successfully answer those questions, and become giants in their own right.

You're right - it will be difficult, but I'm delusional enough to believe it's possible!

BeboTIL98 karma

OK Reddit - this has been fun. I'm going to take a little break for lunch.

In the meantime - I'd like to show you one of the other projects we're working on and hear what you think. I'm obviously a big fan of reddit AMAs, and actually am building a website that takes the AMA concept one step further.

It's only a prototype right now (we made it a couple weeks ago)- but check it out and let me know what you think. http://vimeo.com/74682794#at=1 , the password to the video is "welcome".

kupcayke24 karma

So it is like a neverending community wide AMA? I like the idea, depending on how the 'feed' is set up I see a lot of potential for low bounce rates and lots of sign ups. It differentiates itself well from other social media platforms. You can tell right off the bat that you are cutting right to the most interesting aspects of the users' lives, rather than "LOL LOOK AT THIS SANDWICH I ATE TODAY". I hope this venture works out for you guys, it looks promising.

BeboTIL30 karma

^ this guy gets it.

CombiFish85 karma

How many users have currently sighed up for the new Bebo?

How many users did you have before you sold it to AOL?

BeboTIL156 karma

as of this morning...245,652 signed up since we put up the new landing page + video on Aug 9th.

There were over 40M members when it was sold to AOL in 2008.

CombiFish94 karma

A shame I haven't heard about it, it's a mistake from my part. :(

I wish you good luck with the project, and I'm looking forward to this!

Edited because of misunderstanding.

BeboTIL202 karma

honestly before I joined, I hadn't heard of Bebo either. I was a myspace guy myself during the awkward teenage years.

Bebo audience was biggest in the UK, Ireland, Australia etc..

Fun fact of the day - at one point, Bebo was more highly trafficked than Google in Ireland.

El_Nero80 karma

As an Irish person who was on Bebo, I can confirm this. It was like the original Facebook for us. I really can't see anyone going "back" to Bebo from Facebook to be honest. I do wish you the best of luck though! What can you offer a Facebook user to lure them away?

BeboTIL109 karma

The new Bebo will be very different from the old one. It's not meant to be a Facebook replacement.

BeccaWatkins55 karma

Are you going to tell us what's different about bebo? Why should we sign up for another social network?

BeboTIL118 karma

unfortunately I can't be specific about the new bebo yet. Not only because it's fun to keep secrets..but also because we're testing the product and it's going to change by the time we launch it.

hero0fwar52 karma

How many cock and balls pictures have you drawn on the white board?

BeboTIL179 karma

During the filming of our video, our office literally had hundreds drawn on the whiteboards (..for practice of course).

I personally drew the one in the video with wings - I call it - The Shaft Aircraft.

hero0fwar107 karma

I personally drew the one in the video with wings

it's glorious, nice work


BeboTIL208 karma

that's incredible. did you draw that? We're hiring...

notjustanymike45 karma

The Shaftcraft has a better ring to it. 'Course I woulda called it the Dick-o-plane!

BeboTIL63 karma

Note for next time. coming to Reddit for all product-naming ideas first

nickvenditti47 karma


BeboTIL147 karma

No fluffy stuff -

I was a Biology major at Duke. Planned on going to Med School. To this day, I know very little about biology.

As a senior in college, I had an idea to create a sushi restaurant chain (chipotle meets sushi). Fun ride, partnered with a Food Network Chef, but ultimately learned that I loved startups NOT the food industry.

From there I went and did a bio-tech venture in Australia, before deciding to move to SF (the mecca of startups) to see what it was all about.

I fortuitously discovered The Monkey Inferno on Angel List and got a job as a product manager. 9 Weeks later, Michael called me into his office and told me he was proud of the work I had done so far, and wanted to promote me (to his job) as CEO of the company.

Takeaways - work hard to get lucky. (Oh, and don't feel locked in to doing ONE thing/industry if it's not what you love doing.)

MysticalTurban42 karma

How do you feel the new bebo will compete with Facebook and Twitter?

BeboTIL137 karma

I don't think it will compete head to head with those services. It turns out, social networking was NOT winner take all (eg. one may use Facebook, Twitter, & Whatsapp - each for different needs).

I suppose we will compete in the simplest sense, as in - competing for people's time.

We will be different, lighter & more fun than what's currently out there. Unfortunately can't give specific details at this time without getting murdered by our marketing person.

jewsain-bolt38 karma

Have any need for an intern?

BeboTIL67 karma

we have an internship program at the Inferno, checkout www.monkeyinferno.com/jobs for details

Paper-Snow-A-GHOST35 karma

Can you send me love on bebo? I've not had it in a while.

BeboTIL45 karma


MexicanPenguin32 karma

Can you still share "luv" on Bebo? I remember how lonely that feature made 14 year old me feel.

BeboTIL37 karma


OneDoesNotSimply5529 karma

How big is your fear of failure?

BeboTIL125 karma

Good question. Sometimes I feel that fear. It will be a big public failure if Bebo flops.

Then again - everybody expects Bebo to flop because tech comebacks almost never work.

In that vein, we have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.

newdefaultsahhh22 karma

Could you make it so that all of the old bebo is preserved as an archive? I appreciate you've made photos and blogs available, but I really want to see wall posts as well.

It was there until fairly recently, and it was great for nostalgic memories of highschool.

BeboTIL31 karma

agreed. We are making an export tool so that anyone will be able to login to their old account and download all the old pictures / blog posts

skepticaljesus15 karma

Why did you do an AMA before you're able to actually tell people the specifics of the site? If I was your marketing person, I'd murder you for that, too.

BeboTIL97 karma

I use Reddit. I know better than to use an AMA as a marketing platform.

The TIL post about Bebo hit the homepage, so I thought it would be fun to do an AMA.

BeboTIL13 karma

well guys - it's been real. Back to building Bebo. See you on the otherside - Shaan

iwritegood10 karma


BeboTIL24 karma

I still don't know how to code. Read the lean startup, 4 steps to epiphany, and every blog post by Paul Graham as a starting point.

If that stuff gets you juiced up, then consider making the leap to tech!

detectivemonk10 karma

Where do you see social network sites going? Is the format of the sites and how people access them going to vastly change anytime soon?

BeboTIL40 karma

Times are shifting - here's 3 things I would take note of:

  1. It's going mobile (not just 'mobile-compatible', but built for mobile)

  2. It's not enough to "connect" people with their friends. Facebook put you in touch with your friends. LinkedIn with your professional network...Now it's all about what you can DO with those people you're connected to.

  3. Your friends are yours, not ours. Yo We're building Bebo using your phonebook. They are already your contacts, you don't need to start from scratch and "friend" people on our network.

whippedCREAMsandwich8 karma

Thanks for answering some questions. What influences your new start-up ideas? Have you had an idea you thought was really great idea but did not go through with it?

BeboTIL17 karma

most great ideas come from the shower.

We build 4 startups at once in-house, and try to go from "idea" to "market" in 6 weeks. So yes, lots of our ideas end up on the cutting room floor (or, graveyard).

All ideas start out feeling like 'the best idea ever', that's why you have to build fast and test it to see if the market agrees

pompey6066 karma

How much value do you really think the name Bebo has? I am only asking as the only people I knew who used Bebo used it when they were 14-16 (im in UK). Do you think you can recapture those people or are you going for new people in that age demographic?

BeboTIL20 karma

good question -

We probably have our work cut out for us trying to recapture old Bebo users, since their last perception of Bebo was as a teenage network.

So far the response from that audience has been stellar. Mostly because we did not come back and say "BEBO IZ COOL AGAIN". Instead, we poked fun at ourselves and acknowledged that Bebo needed to grow up, just as its users have.

I guess we'll see what happens when we launch!

wewillfixitinpost3 karma

Where are the Bebo offices based?

BeboTIL4 karma

San Francisco, (Bebo is a part of The Monkey Inferno, an idea lab)

celerym3 karma

I'm kind of over this while social networking thing, as are many. Anything planned to rekindle ye olde flame? Maybe I'm just old.

BeboTIL21 karma

we did consider using the $1M to buy a park bench instead..

mtreef23 karma

Apparently Bebo was big in the UK, Australia, and Ireland. Why hasn't it ever been big in the US?

BeboTIL4 karma

Facebook, Myspace and Friendster were all competing fiercely for the US.

As with any viral product, you get network effects once you saturate a particular market. Bebo was able to do that overseas much more easily (because no other network had lock-in) than in the USA

grendel85942 karma

What do you plan on doing with the company as you move forward? Also, what suggestions would you have for startups in very early stages?

BeboTIL6 karma

advice for early stage startups -

make sure you ship something to market as quickly as possible. Treat each "idea" as an experiment. Build it, ship it, measure the response, and decide your next steps based of the learnings. (lean startup method, essentially)

Kaielll1 karma

How can I start working for Bebo before it gets popular?

BeboTIL2 karma

what is it that you do?