Britain’s tech billionaires and millionaires are defying the prevailing gloom in the economy – and here is part 3 of our look at the nation’s digital success stories.
BusinessCloud’s inaugural top 100 Tech Rich List has found the sector’s entrepreneurs and business owners are now worth £19.655billion.
It is drawn from the ranks of those in mobile, telecoms, internet, software and computer hardware, whether selling, making or designing. Their wealth varies from £1.5bn to £40m.
The list has been compiled by Philip Beresford, who also produces the annual Sunday Times Rich List.
The first part of the UK Tech Rich List covered numbers 81-100 while the second instalment showcased numbers 61-80.
Now we have those in positions 41-60, with 20 more entrepreneurs featured each day until Friday.
41. Martin Dawes & family – Martin Dawes, £112m
Martin Dawes, a North West high-tech entrepreneur, started in his father’s TV rentals business and later went into mobile phones. He sold Martin Dawes Telecommunications in 1999 netting £70m.
42=. Joe Hemani – Westcoast, £110m
Westcoast distributes computing products throughout Britain, spanning the whole spectrum from printers and laptop PCs to high-end servers. It supplies goods made by Samsung, Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft. The £100m operation made £12.2m profit on £1.47bn sales in 2014. We add £10m for other assets.
42=. Matthew Riley – Daisy Communications, £110m
Matthew Riley set up Nelson-based Daisy Communications in 2001. Riley took the group private in a £494m deal late in 2014. His stake was worth around £90m at that time while past share sales should take him to £110m after-tax.
42=. Charlie Sharland – Appsense, £110m
Warrington-based Appsense develops virtualisation software that enables staff to work remotely. Founded in 2000 by Charlie Sharland, a former electronics salesman, who sold one business and used his savings to buy out Appsense. He has a 23 per cent stake in Appsense which is reported to be looking at a £650m float.
45. Sam Houser – Rockstar Games, £105m
Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe played Sam Houser in a BBC dramatisation of the life of the genius behind the Grand Theft Auto series. The show aired last autumn and elicited a withering response from Rockstar Games, the Houser’s US-based company. The Housers are now based in New York where they keep a low profile.
46. Andrew & Paul Gower – Fenn Research & Jagex, £102m
Runescape, the online warfare game, was developed by Andrew Gower when he was a Cambridge undergraduate in the late 1990s. He sold his stake in parent company Jagex to a private equity operation for around £88m in 2011. He has now set up Fen Research to develop more games.
47=. Neil Hutchinson – Forward Internet, £100m
After a business degree, Neil Hutchinson started out in accountancy but quickly found it lacked the kind of “instant gratification” he wanted, so he started building websites in his spare time. His City trader ambitions began to be fulfilled when he started TrafficBroker, an online advertising business. Now renamed Forward Internet, the online ecommerce and advertising business had assets of £52m at the end of 2014.
47=. Vin Murria & family – Ex-Advanced Computer Software, £100m
Vin Murria was chief executive of Advanced Computer Software, an AIM-listed healthcare software company. She has over 20 years’ experience of working for private equity backed and publicly listed companies focusing on the software sector. Under her direction, Advanced Computer Software has been growing fast and in November 2014 agreed a £725m takeover by a US private equity group. She joined the board of Softcat, another highly regarded IT firm, as a non-executive director last year.
47=. Matt Newing – Elite Telecom, £100m
Matt Newing always knew that he wanted to be his own boss and he set up his first company in 1996, when he was 23. Today the Isle of Man-based entrepreneur is best known for building Chorley-based Elite Telecoms. Newing founded Elite in 2000 from his bedroom to offer an intelligent user friendly call-queuing system for large company call centres. Elite now has a raft of blue chip clients and a £30m plus turnover. Newing has won many business awards and is a massive fan of F1.
50. John & Richard Bennett – Ex-Kerridge Group, £97m
Berkshire-based Kerridge Group was taken over in 2005 for £170m. The group, providing software for the motor industry, was 62 per cent owned by the family trusts of the Bennetts, John and Richard.
51=. Clay Brendish – Ex-Admiral, £90m
Clay Brendish co-founded the Admiral software operation in 1979. The Camberley-based operation was taken over in 2000 and Brendish’s stake was worth £190m. He took most of the proceeds in shares and sold £44m worth in late 2000.
51=. Jon Burton – Travellers Tales, £90m
Jon Burton is the creative force behind the Lego-themed computer games that have sold more than 150 million copies over the past decade. Travellers Tales, the Cheshire-based operation he founded at the age of 20 and held a 78 per cent stake in, was snapped up by Warner Brothers for £100m in 2007. He remains at the re-named TT Games, which remains highly profitable.
51=. Demis Hassabis – DeepMind Technologies, £90m
A chess prodigy, Demis Hassabis had reached the standard of chess master at 13. After graduating with a double first in computer science from Cambridge, Hassabis set up his own games business, Elixir Studios, which was responsible for such hits as Evil Genius and Republic. He then set up his own company DeepMind to specialise in Artificial intelligence. Google paid a reported £400m for the company in early 2014. Hassabis reportedly picked up £80m, which we assume was in Google shares and options.
51=. Stephane Kurgan – King Digital, £90m
Stephane Kurgan is another of the winners from London-based King Digital Entertainment’s $5.9bn sale to the US computer gaming giant Activision Blizzard. The Belgian-born chief operating officer’s stake was valued at £101.6m by the deal, announced late last year.
51=. The Marquess of Milford Haven – Ex-uSwitch, £90m
The Marquess of Milford Haven, the Queen’s cousin, launched the uSwitch website comparing utility prices in 2000. It was sold to EW Scripps, the American media group, in 2006 for £210m. Milford Haven’s trusts received around £105m.
51=. Tim Radford & family – Timico & ex-Project Telecom, £90m
Tim Radford’s Timico was recently announced as the new sponsor of the Cheltenham Gold Cup. The Radford family own 68 per cent of Timico. An earlier venture, Project Telecommunications, floated on the stock market in 2000. Its sale to Vodafone in 2003 netted Radford around £40m.
57=. Steve Bennett & family – Ex-Software Warehouse & ex-Jungle.com, £85m
Steve Bennett left school at 16 and wanted to be a professional saxophonist, but realising he would not make the grade, he took an IT course instead. By the age of 24 he branched out on his own selling computers. He later moved into mail order software. In five years, his company Software Warehouse pushed up sales from £7.7m to £71.3m. In 2000 he sold the stores to a management buyout team for an undisclosed sum. He later concentrated on his internet venture, Jungle.com, which was sold to GUS for around £7m. His family now own highly profitable jewellery company, The Colourful Company Group.
57=. Suzanne Marshall-Forsyth & family – Phoenix Software, £85m
Profits at Phoenix Software’s parent came in at £4m on £92.1m sales in 2014. The York-based software operation, started in 1990, has a strong balance sheet and a good niche in the field of supplying and supporting software volume licensing for local government, the voluntary and corporate sectors, and education. It is owned by co-founder Suzanne Marshall-Forsyth and her family.
59. Paddy Burns – 4j Studios, £82m
Patrick Burns is a director of Dundee-based 4J Studios, best known for its Xbox 360 version of the hugely popular Minecraft game.
60=. David Hunter – BJSS, £80m
David Hunter is technical director of fast-growing bespoke software developer BJSS. He has a near 49 per cent stake in the business which made £10.1m profit on £50.4m sales in 2013-14. Founded in 1993, BJSS is worth £150m.