Michael Birch

NET WORTH: $390 million

SOURCE of WEALTH: Bebo

FUNDING AREAS: Global Health & Development, Political Activism

OVERVIEW: Other than his support for charity: water.org, which is quite significant, there’s virtually no record of Birch’s philanthropy—at least in terms of monetary donations. Birch is however using his technological expertise to support causes he cares about, which includes the development of a peer-to-peer fundraising tool.

BACKGROUND: Birch is a British computer programmer and entrepreneur, having launched more than half a dozen tech startups over the last 15 years, including Bebo and BirthdayAlarm. While those in the U.S. may not be that familiar with his work, those in the U.K. certainly are; his most successful company, Bebo, was the 6th largest website in England at the time of its sale to AOL, which netted Birch and his wife Xochi $595 million for their 70% stake. Bebo did not fare well under AOL, and the Birches ended up rebuying the company for a mere $1 million. Birch and his wife now run several different companies, including the startup incubator Monkey Inferno, and now live in San Francisco. 

ISSUES:

GLOBAL HEALTH & DEVELOPMENT: Birch and his wife are major supporters of charity: water.org, an organization dedicated to bringing clean and safe drinking water to those who do not have it. They’ve personally donated at least $10.5 million to the organization, and helped raise millions through their networks. Birch also reportedly plans to hand off Monkey Inferno, the peer-to-peer fundraising tool he’s developing to charity: water, upon completion. In addition, they made a $1 million gift to Water.org.

POLITICAL ACTIVISM: In 2011, Birch made a foray into U.S. politics with Jolitics, a political social network he created where people could “draft, debate and vote on ideas for change to Government.” The site launched in 2011, but has been decommissioned, lasting less than two years.

HOUSING: Birch gave money to renovate Woolsery, a dying British village where he grew up.

LOOKING FORWARD: Though Birch’s attempt to create a political social network failed, he will certainly continue to look for innovative ways he can help get people more involved in fundraising, and in government. Organizations that support voting rights and political activism appeal to Birch, as do organizations that use an individualized approach to fundraising and grantmaking, such as Kiva or DonorsChoose. 

CONTACT:

Monkey Inferno, Inc.
387 Tehema St.
San Francisco, CA 94103
bananas@monkeyinferno.com
Twitter: @mickbirch