Founders of social network Bebo buy north Devon pub

By James Evison

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Social network service

Farmers Arms: Bebo founders have bought it
Farmers Arms: Bebo founders have bought it
The founders of social networking site Bebo have bought a dilapidated pub in Devon which they aim to refurbish alongside a local manor house.

Michael and Xochi Birch have bought the Farmers Arms, a freehouse in Woolsery, North Devon, which was closed in 2012, and has since fallen into a state of disrepair after attempts to turn it into a community asset by locals failed.

But now the couple, who live in California, aim to bring the pub back to life alongside another boarded up building - a local manor house - which the couple plan to turn into a hotel.

The reason for the interest in the village assets is due to Michael Birch’s family connections with the locality. His family built and then owned the local convenience store until 1961.

The couple built the social networking site Bebo in 2005 before selling it in 2008 to AOL for $850m. It was bought back by the Birches in 2013 for $1m and turned into an app generation firm.

Robin Edmonds, chairman of Woolsery Parish Council, told the local press: “The residents of Woolsery are very fortunate to find a new owner who is passionate about restoring the pub and is happy to make the considerable investment required to achieve this.

“The restoration of the Manor House and putting it into use as a hotel is an unexpected bonus for the whole village.”

Related topics: Other operators

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