Page 1


Featuring: Andrus Ansip Nikesh Arora Ana Botin Rachel Botsman Matt Brittin Steve Case Alex Chesterman Samir Desai Sir Charles Dunstone Daniel Ek Matthew Freud Jacques-Antoine Granjon Demis Hassabis Lars Hinrichs Reid Hoffman Arianna Huffington Travis Kalanick Alexander Ljung David Marcus Natalie Massenet Yuri Milner José Neves George Osborne Ilkka Paananen Danny Rimer Marc Samwer Martín Varsavky Arkady Volozh Stefan von Holtzbrinck Jimmy Wales Ed Wray Riccardo Zacconi Niklas Zennström

The Rt Hon George Osborne MP


I’ve met many members of Founders Forum over the years. What always impresses me is the enormous amount of hard work and dedication required to create and grow a business. Being an entrepreneur isn’t easy but, as the remarkable stories in this book show, great businesses have the potential to transform lives – the lives of those who found them and those who work for them, but also the lives of their customers. That’s why being part of a government that backs business is so important to me. Both the Prime Minister and I have been clear that creating a society in which businesses can thrive requires a strong economy, so firms have confidence to grow, invest and create jobs. When we took office just five years ago, Britain was on the brink: £1 in every £4 the government spent was borrowed. Since then, we have made good progress in reducing the deficit but there is still more to do. We are creating a rule that permanently entrenches a culture of financial responsibility, so we never again make the mistakes of the past. Backing business also means giving the UK the most competitive tax regime of any major advanced economy in the world. We cut corporation tax from 28 per cent to 20 per cent over the last parliament, one of the biggest boosts British business has ever seen. In the Budget I announced, we’ll go further still – and cut it to 18 per cent by 2020. This is on top of increased support for investment, increased support for research and development, generous tax reliefs for those investing in new businesses and a massive programme of support for our creative industries. But backing business also means taking the difficult decisions to make sure that Britain stays in the front ranks of the economic nations of the world. That starts with education and skills. If we want the best companies in the world to invest here in the UK, we need to make sure that we have the best human capital to offer them in return. That’s why, last year, the UK became the first country in the world to mandate the teaching of computer coding in primary and secondary schools, to make sure that we equip our children with the skills to succeed in today’s economy. We’re also going to take bold decisions to fix our physical infrastructure, transform our railways, invest in our roads and give Britain the fastest broadband. So, responsible fiscal policy, the most competitive business tax regime in the G20 and an economy with the skills and infrastructure we need to succeed – these are the building blocks of our plan for a strong economy that backs business. Of course, there is always more we can do. My door is open to those with creative ideas on how we can further support entrepreneurship and I congratulate Founders Forum on its ten-year anniversary. I look forward to working together in the years to come._

Founders Forum: Ten Years


Introduction p06 Brent Hoberman p08 Jonathan Goodwin




p14 Europe A Continent Comes of Age

p28 Mobile The Fifth Wave of Computing

p40 FinTech The Perfect Storm

p18 Key Events 2006

p32 Key Events 2007

p43 Key Events 2008

p19 Niklas Zennström Europe Can Create Tech Giants

p33 Martín Varsavsky The Entrepreneur Who Anticipates Tech Trends

p44 Daniel Ek Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

p36 Sir Richard Branson

p46 Sir Charles Dunstone  Leader of Two Revolutions in Telecommunications

p22 Jimmy Wales You Know, The Wikipedia Guy p24 Pieter van der Does

p37 Fabrice Grinda

p25 Pavel Durov

p37 John Borthwick

p49 Michael Acton Smith p49 Ben Medlock

p25 David Buttress




p52 Policy Let Europe Function

p62 Human Networks Talent Migrates Around Talent

p122 Sharing Economy The Productivity of Idling

p55 Key Events 2009

p65 Key Events 2010

p126 Key Events 2011

p56 Jan Koum

p66 Lars Hinrichs Geeks Make the Best Tech Entrepreneurs

p127 Niklas Östberg

p56 Romero Rodrigues p57 Marc Simoncini p57 Peter Arvai p58 José Neves Focus on the Big Ideas

p69 Yossi Vardi

p127 Azmat Yusuf

p69 Natalia Vodianova

p128 Steve Case The Dawn of a New Era of Digital Disruption

p70 Xavier Niel

p131 Nick Halstead

p70 Andrew Fisher

p131 Justine Roberts

p71 Nick Robertson

p132 Arianna Huffington Don’t Forget to Unplug Regularly

p71 Pierre Kosciusko-Morizet p72 Yuri Milner Dream Big and Stay Focused

Infographic p10 Billion-Dollar Valuations Europe's Unicorns



10 Years

p136 Gaming On the Shoulders of Giants

p148 Corporate Transition This is a Radical Transformation

p140 Key Events 2012

p151 Key Events 2013

p75 In Pictures From London to New York, Rio to Mumbai, Los Angeles to Singapore, Istanbul to New Delhi

p141 Hiroshi Mikitani

p152 Arkady Volozh The Global Ambitions of Russia’s Google

p142 Alexander Ljung In Love With Sound

p155 Dr Mike Lynch

p144 Martha Lane Fox p145 Sir Tim Berners-Lee

p109 Rising Stars Founders Forum hand-picks a selection of the most disruptive technology companies to present at its events p203 In Names A selection of the hundreds of entrepreneurs, business leaders, politicians, and others who have attended Founders Forum events over the last ten years




p158 Artificial Intelligence Making Machines Smarter

p172 IP and Innovation Disruption, Disintermediation, Reinvention

p185 The View From Elsewhere Essays from Silicon Valley and Europe’s finest

p161 Key Events 2014 p162 Sean Parker p163 Rohan Silva p163 Alexander Asseily p164 Alex Chesterman Mobile has Changed Everything p166 Pete Flint p166 Sebastian Siemiatkowski p167 Nikesh Arora The Global Local Hero

p176 Key Events 2015 p177 Natalie Massenet Putting Fashion Retailing on the Digital Runway p180 Stefan von Holtzbrinck Technology, There’s No Downside p182 Eben Upton p182 Frédéric Mazzella p183 Michael Birch p183 Andrew Thompson

p186 Five Traits of an Entrepreneur Travis Kalanick, Uber p190 Look Beyond the Clouds Matt Brittin, Google p192 An Engine of Innovation David Marcus, Facebook p194 From Start-Up to Scale-Up Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn p196 E is for Estonia Andrus Ansip, European Commission p198 A Purpose Beyond Profit Matthew Freud, freuds p200 The Founders Forum Journey Henry Lane Fox, Founders Forum

Founders Forum


Brent Hoberman CBE


10 Years


My internet adventures have allowed me to mix a love of gadgets with a love of entrepreneurship. My father, an engineer by profession, fuelled the former

He’d buy me early Apple II computers, Dick Tracy-style watches (featuring infrared buttons to control power sockets) and radio transmitters that allowed me to become the controller of Eton’s first pirate radio station. The entrepreneurship came from my grandfather, who turned his uncle’s single South African clothes shop into a 650-store chain – Truworths.

As a South African, Americanophile immigrant in the UK at the end of the last century, I naturally turned to the internet. At the time, European digital entrepreneurship was in its infancy. The company I co-founded,, became a protagonist in the dot-com drama that unfolded. We experimented very early with many technologies we take for granted today: voice recognition, locationbased mobile services and personalisation. We experimented, too, with a number of forward-looking online services, not just travel but food delivery, spa bookings, local deals, dynamic packaging, theatres and cinemas. Much of what was niche then is now mainstream. European entrepreneurship has come a long way since 1998. It is no longer exceptional to find two ex-consultants under the age of 30 with a 30-page plan able to raise $1m. Now, we have hundreds of them each year, many with the potential to turn their ideas into the next billion-dollar start-up, the so-called unicorns. European entrepreneurship societies flourish at schools and universities. Role models abound. And powerful alumni networks are springing up across the continent. Think of Skype alumni spawning Atomico, TransferWise and Rdio. Consider the former employees going on to create Trulia, Wahanda, Voyage Privé, Qype and Similarly, think of King, Rocket, ARM, Iliad, Carphone Warehouse and Many founders, post-exit, nurture the next generation, encouraged by tax breaks but more importantly stimulated by a desire to stay relevant and an enthusiasm to give back to upcoming entrepreneurs. was sold in 2005, ten years ago. Jonnie Goodwin, Marc Samwer, Matthew Freud and I launched Founders Forum shortly thereafter.

Career timeline 1998: Co-founder/CEO of 2000: floated in March 2005: acquired by Travelocity Europe for $1.1bn 2006: Co-founder/ Chairman of Founders Forum 2009: Appointed to The Business Council for Britain 2010: Co-founder/ Chairman of 2015: Co-founder of Founders Factory Currently the Prime Minister’s business trade ambassador

Like many businesses, the timing of Founders Forum was a combination of smart thinking and luck. From that first event, which featured 80 top players, we now struggle to keep numbers below 400. We host seasoned entrepreneurs, leading investors, corporate CEOs and rising tech stars. This mix of talent is designed to inject energy, drive and inspiration and to encourage return visits. Founders Forum has moved beyond its role as a networking anchor with the launch of Founders Keepers, Founders Intelligence, Founders Pledge and Founders Factory. As this book makes clear, Europe still has much to prove. Nevertheless, the continent’s entrepreneurs can hold their heads up high as they battle the complexities of a not-yet-single digital market, multiple languages and regulatory hurdles. By conquering these barriers they prove themselves to be world class. Unlike in 1998, Europe’s politicians are listening to the digital community and are locked in a virtuous arms race to see who can create the best environment for today’s generation of entrepreneurs. While a few technology sectors may mature, others are just emerging: robotics, artificial intelligence, health, e-government, finance, IoT (Internet of Things) and automotive among them. I hope that in ten years’ time, Founders Forum is still going strong and we’ll look back to today as a time when all of us laid the foundations – the skills, regulatory framework, attitudes to failure, a single digital market, bolder aspirations and much more – that led to an even stronger wave of European revolutionaries._

Founders Forum


Jonathan Goodwin


10 Years


Founders Forum was born with a pretty simple thought in mind – to create an event that would provide the perfect collaborative environment

A simple thought to create a series of intimate gatherings that would bring together the leading entrepreneurs of today and the rising stars of tomorrow. No keynotes, just serious brainstorming for seriously smart people.

Ten years on and Founders Forum has staged events in London, New York, Los Angeles, Mumbai, New Delhi, Rio de Janeiro, Shanghai, Qingdao, Singapore and Istanbul. I came away from each of those gatherings more inspired and better informed than when I arrived. That is the joy of Founders Forum. Very busy people join us time and time again because they know they will learn something new and useful and along the way experience the satisfaction of sharing their insights with new people. I continue to be humbled and excited by many of the remarkable stories and achievements I’ve witnessed. To have a ringside seat over the last ten years has been a privilege. During that time, we have seen an unprecedented increase in the levels of venture capital, private equity and M&A activity in this sector. Europe has emerged as a credible part of the tech/digital ecosystem. At the heart of Founders Forum is the belief that we should all do good as we do well. To that end we created the Founders Pledge, a mechanism whereby entrepreneurs commit to donate at least 2 per cent of their personal proceeds from an exit to a social cause of their choice. One hundred and fifteen pledges have already been committed to the project across more than 160 companies, creating a total estimated fund worth almost $100m. It has been an amazing ten years and I’m enormously proud to have been a part of what is a truly unique network. I’ve no doubt the next decade of Founders Forum will be even more inspiring._

Career timeline 2000: Co-founded LongAcre Partners 2006: Co-founded Founders Forum 2007: LongAcre acquired for approximately £40m by Jefferies 2011: Founded Lepe Partners Currently President of the British Fashion Council Investment Pillar and Treasurer of the Centre for Policy Studies On the advisory board for the Tech City Future Fifty, the board of Ten Alps, Masabi and Chairman of the NSPCC Digital Task Force

“No keynotes, just serious brainstorming for seriously smart people”

Founders Forum


Billion-Dollar Valuations



DEU Zalando SWE Spotify SWE Skype


DEU Wirecard RUS Ulmart


GB Rightmove DEU Rocket Internet GB Markit Group RUS Yandex


4bn+ 12

GB PokerStars SWE King Digital GB Betfair Group GB JUST EAT GB ASOS


11 10 09

01. 02. 03. 04. 05. 06. 07. 08. 09. 10. 11. 12.





Retail Enterprise Apps Financial Services Gaming Social & Communications  Travel & Transportation  Content Food & Drink Adtech Classified Directories Consumer Software Apps Other



GB Playtech DEU CTS Eventim DEU Global Fashion Group GB Ocado DEU Delivery Hero FIN Supercell FRA vente-privee



DEU HelloFresh ITA YOOX GB Powa Technologies SWE Mojang RUS Vkontakte FRA Criteo RUS Avito NLD Adyen SWE Klarna IRE Fleetmatics Group

50 – 55

1b n +



GB Ve Interactive DNK Zendesk GB Zoopla FRA BlaBlaCar ISR Conduit ISR IronSource ISR Waze DEU SoundCloud GB Skrill RUS Qiwi DEU XING GB*

45 – 50 40 – 45 35 – 40 30 – 35 25 – 30 20 – 25

1b n

DEU Auto1 Group GB Funding Circle ISR Mobli GB TransferWise GB Fanduel DEU Home24 GB Farfetch GB Wonga ISR Trusteer GB Skyscanner GB Shazam GB AO World GB Blippar

15 – 20 10 – 15 9 – 9.9 8 – 8.9 7 – 7.9 6 – 6.9 5 – 5.9 4 – 4.9 3 – 3.9 2 – 2.9












1 – 1.9

*2005 Sale

10 Years


Size relative to combined unicorn worth

Country: FIN Unicorns: 01

Country: SWE Unicorns: 05

Country: DNK Unicorns: 01

Country: GB Unicorns: 22

Country: IRE Unicorns: 01

Country: NLD Unicorns: 01

Country: DEU Unicorns: 11 Country: RUS Unicorns: 05

Country: FRA Unicorns: 03

Country: ITA Unicorns: 01

Country: ISR Unicorns: 05

Dataset: Data restricted to companies founded in 1999 or later and founded in Europe. Internet and software companies only, including ecommerce. Public and private companies currently valued at $1bn or higher: valuation based on publicly confirmed private market transaction or acquisition, or via its latest public market valuation. Data collated by Founders Forum and Atomico. Sources: Atomico, GP Bullhound Report, CB Insights, Wall Street Journal, Capital IQ

2006 ← 2007 2008 2009 2010

2011 2012 2013 2014 2015

Founders Forum




2006 was another country, another era. In ten years, Europe’s tech start-up scene has been transformed. The progress – in the words of Hermann Hauser – has been “spectacular” →

Broadband had only just overtaken dial-up as the most popular means of accessing the internet. Personal computers remained the dominant computing device for both work and play. Mass-market smartphones – soon to make anytime, anywhere net access possible and transform almost every industry sector, from retail to logistics – were still a year away. Social networks, as a communications tool and a platform on which to build services, were at an early stage (Twitter was created in March 2006, while Facebook opened itself up beyond college dorms in September). Streaming video for the masses was still a novelty. The global internet population in 2006 was 1.2 billion. By the middle of 2015, the number stood at 3.2 billion. Much has changed in the ten-year time span from 2006 to 2015, not least within Europe’s tech start-up scene. By mid-2015, according to research by the investment banking firm GP Bullhound, there were 40 European start-ups with valuations of $1bn or over: the so-called unicorns. These firms come from ten different countries across the continent and have an average capitalisation of $3bn. Has Europe finally arrived? “Ten years ago, there was so little infrastructure and such a small ecosystem that the likelihood of being able to create a globally relevant company was extremely limited,” observes Danny Rimer, partner at Index Ventures. “You didn’t really have the resources at hand from a recruiting side, from a legal side, from a financing side: it was all pretty limited. And you didn’t really have an ecosystem made up of other founders, other entrepreneurs who knew what you were going through, to learn from and share war stories. And I think that has changed.” His conclusion: “Europe has gone from being irrelevant to being somewhat relevant.” If “somewhat relevant” sounds a little underwhelming, others offer context. “There still is a huge difference between Europe and Silicon Valley,” says Hermann Hauser, the Austrian-born technology entrepreneur, “but let’s not forget that there is a huge difference between Silicon Valley and the rest of America. Sometimes we beat ourselves up too much about this, because if you compare pretty much anything else with Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley always comes out on top. A better way to think about this is to compare ourselves with where we were ten years ago and there the progress is spectacular. We’re actually doing exceptionally well.”

Featuring Samir Desai Hermann Hauser Henry Lane Fox Ilkka Paananen Danny Rimer Marc Samwer Ed Wray

In 1997, Hauser co-founded Amadeus Capital Partners, an early European venture capital firm, and promoted the nascent researchbased technology scene in Cambridge, dubbed “Silicon Fen”. The Financial Times asked him how long he thought it would take for Silicon Fen to produce its first billion-dollar company. Hauser crossed his fingers behind his back and said that it would take another ten years. “We actually have 14 today,” he notes. “There is now credibility that means you can attract people to Cambridge. Or to London, or a number of other European technology centres.”

10 Years


“Ten years ago there was too little infrastructure in Europe” Danny Rimer Partner, Index Ventures

Pan-European players Italian-born Riccardo Zacconi ran the German division of Swedish web portal Spray before setting up Anglo-Swedish games company King in the UK Estonian Taavet Hinrikus was an early employee at Skype, the company founded by a Swede and a Dane. Hinrikus went on to co-found Londonbased FinTech TransferWise

Hauser sees parallels with the early days in California. “If you look at the success of Silicon Valley and you look at the first 20 years that it took them to build up their ecosystem, their progress wasn’t particularly impressive. But then, after 20 years, it grew exponentially. And we’ve just had 20 years here and the building blocks are now in place for Europe to have the same spectacular growth.” So was it just a case of being patient? “We were impatient for it but also we didn’t have the quality of the management,” he says, pointing to how, in the early days of Amadeus, just 17 per cent of deals involved serial entrepreneurs. Today, 70 per cent of deals do: “We now have much better management.” Access to capital has marked a big shift, too. This has meant not only private equity and seed activity but also more late-stage money. As a result of the latter, start-ups can delay going public. “That tends to give people the time to build more successful, more substantial businesses,” notes Founders Forum’s Henry Lane Fox. “Spotify [the Swedish music streaming service] is a good example of a business that has got to scale, operating internationally. It’s in a situation where it could start making some interesting acquisitions on an international basis.” Success begets success. Entrepreneurs beget entrepreneurs. The Skype co-founder Niklas Zennström, who has also set up the technology investment firm Atomico, is today part mentor, part investor, part cheerleader and part inspiration for a new era of European tech entrepreneurs. Ilkka Paananen, the Finnish co-founder and CEO of the games maker Supercell, says that this kind of active role model creates a “positive feedback loop”. Across Europe, the start-up scene is thriving. Helsinki and Stockholm lead Scandinavia’s gaming charge. Amsterdam is trading on its central location, competitive tax regime and talent. London is drawing on its favourable time zones, the UK’s production line of science and engineering graduates and the capital’s financial heritage to establish itself as a FinTech centre. Paris is building on the successes of Jacques-Antoine Granjon, Marc Simoncini and Xavier Niel. And Berlin, according to Rocket Internet’s Marc Samwer, combines “cheap living space, cheap living costs [and] big old factory buildings where you can rent huge spaces for little money” with a free spirit upon which hundreds of innovations are being commercialised. Meanwhile, many of Europe’s tech totems straddle national borders and are symbols of pan-European success. For example the Italian-born Riccardo Zacconi ran the German division of the Swedish web portal Spray before arriving in London and setting up the Anglo-Swedish games company King. Two Estonian friends, Taavet Hinrikus and Kristo Käärmann, are behind TransferWise. Hinrikus had been director of strategy at Skype, a company founded by a Swede and a Dane and based on software created in Estonia. ↳

Founders Forum

If Europe has established a foothold in most technology sectors, there is one area in which performance has been underwhelming: social networking. Where Europe has created successful marketplaces and peer-to-peer networks – such as TransferWise, Funding Circle and BlaBlaCar, to name but three – a successful social network that has been able to compete at scale has eluded the continent. Even XING, the German-originated business network, has existed in the shadows of LinkedIn. Meanwhile, Silicon Valley’s Facebook and, to a lesser extent, Twitter have overshadowed every other consumer network.


Global internet population

1.2 billion


“I’d turn it around and ask: how many successful social networks have there been?” says Ed Wray, co-founder of Betfair. “Because of the nature of networks – where the number one is always ten times bigger than the number two, which is ten times bigger than the number three – there’s only ever going to be a handful of winners.” Wray draws a distinction between businesses that have disrupted the old order (in finance, betting and commerce, for example) with digital businesses that invented something completely new, such as social networking. Europe has been successful in the former category, in which the regulatory framework has largely played to its advantage. By contrast, the US has been successful at developing the latter, where scale and critical mass are the business imperatives. “The advantage they have is 330 million people who predominantly talk the same language.” Despite its imperfections, Silicon Valley is still used as a shorthand for tech success. But for how much longer? Samir Desai, co-founder and CEO of Funding Circle, thinks that we may be looking the wrong way already. “In a mobile-first world, the countries where mobile is the only way of doing things – such as India and China – are the places we should be looking,” he says. Desai points to the Chinese ride-hailing start-up Didi Kuaidi, which raised $2bn of fresh funding in July 2015 and threatens to put the likes of Uber in the shade. He points out, too, that Alibaba is far bigger than Amazon and eBay combined and that WeChat is a more sophisticated messaging app than WhatsApp. Moreover, venture capital has become increasingly global and Bangalore is now the sixth biggest VC market in the world. “The capital doesn’t care,” Desai says. Meanwhile, Europe – with its 40 unicorns, its established infrastructure, its access to capital and its stream of talent – will want to play its part over the next ten years. To borrow Danny Rimer’s words, it will want to move from being somewhat relevant to being absolutely relevant._


3.2 billion

10 Years


“Compare ourselves to where we were ten years ago and the progress is spectacular� Hermann Hauser KBE Co-Founder and partner, Amadeus Capital Partners

Founders Forum


Key Events

2006 Several European newspapers reprint controversial cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad, sparking outrage and rioting


David Yu named CEO of Betfair


Martín Varsavsky launches Fon


David Buttress joins JUST EAT to launch JUST EAT UK Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales launches Wikia Fabrice Grinda and Alec Oxenford launch OLX


Niklas Zennström launches Atomico Founders Forum launches, co-hosted with Matthew Freud and Marc Samwer

Pluto is downgraded from a planet to a dwarf planet by the International Astronomical Union



Pavel Durov launches social networking site VK Frédéric Mazzella creates BlaBlaCar in France


Google purchases YouTube for $1.65bn


Pieter van der Does launches Adyen Lars Hinrichs’s XING floats with most successful tech IPO in Germany Jawbone Bluetooth headset launches

Individuals featured in this chapter

10 Years

Niklas Zennström

EUROPE CAN CREATE TECH GIANTS There has never been a better time to be a European tech entrepreneur, according to Niklas Zennström, the Swedish founder of Skype – but much greater access to growth capital is needed ↳


Founders Forum


What do you think Europe needs to change to become more competitive?

With several successful tech start-ups behind him, Niklas Zennström believes that great software companies and entrepreneurs can come from anywhere. There are many who still think that most successful tech companies are born in California’s Silicon Valley; Zennström says that though it remains one of the most remarkable places on earth, he is convinced that European entrepreneurs are well placed to create the next generation of tech giants.

“Europe has come a long way in the last decade and is really flourishing as an entrepreneur-friendly continent, particularly in the technology sector. The challenge is to continue to build on what has been achieved and ensure support for entrepreneurs, who will drive growth by building new companies or redesigning existing ones.” – Niklas Zennström

And he has the data to back this argument up. Of the 182 internet and software companies founded in the last decade that have reached a billion-dollar valuation, almost two-thirds were built outside Silicon Valley. While the Valley remains the largest single location with 63 companies, Asia has 54 companies in this elite group and there are 29 from Europe – and the gap is widening.1 “European cities such as Stockholm, London, Berlin and Helsinki have become magnets for talent and capital,” says Zennström. “My generation of successful tech entrepreneurs is investing in the next generation and I believe that we will see Europe developing real breakout companies over the next decade to rival giants such as Google, Facebook, Tencent and Alibaba.” Europe has several advantages that will give it this edge, he argues. One is – paradoxically – the small size of many of its countries in comparison to the US market. “Our research shows that entrepreneurs from smaller countries go international earlier in their growth, in less than half the time it takes in larger countries. The domestic markets for countries such as Sweden, Finland and Israel are so small that international expansion is the only way to grow.” A second advantage is the growth of the internet, with more than three billion people online worldwide and almost two billion using smartphones. The next billion smartphones will be in emerging markets, says Zennström, and the market for hyper-growth companies is expanding fast. Innovations such as mobile internet, big data, cloud computing and the Internet of Things are changing the software industry. And the pace of change will accelerate with combinations of technologies, increases in processing power, smarter algorithms and easier ways to distribute software (such as app stores). “Silicon Valley was the origin of the internet and the silicon chip and they needed to be done in one place to make them happen. But its success means that entrepreneurs can now communicate and share insights all around the world, which is why 15 billion-dollar companies have emerged from smaller nations since 2013.”

1. Billion-Dollar Data Research, January 2015 explore-d3

All of this is a long way from the 1990s, when Zennström began his career working for Tele2, one of the first European companies to compete with national telephone monopolies and their internet services. As the dot-com boom took off, he ran the group’s internet access portal but he wanted to launch his own business. He and his colleague Janus Friis left Tele2 at the end of 1999 and spent some time thinking about what to do. They came up with the peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing program Kazaa and recruited Estonian programmers to write the software. Kazaa, launched in 2001, showed them the power of viral marketing to build networks and attract more content, the potential to expand across

10 Years


Tech companies valued at $1bn

borders and the importance of ease of use. However, it also brought them up against powerful media companies that considered P2P file-sharing companies a threat to their businesses and launched lawsuits against them.

182 tech companies founded in the last decade1

After the sale of Kazaa, the team created Joltid, which developed and marketed P2P solutions, followed by Altnet, the world’s first secure P2P network. But it was Skype that was the team’s most successful launch. It was conceived when Zennström was travelling around Europe on business – frustrated with roaming charges for calls from abroad that far exceeded their cost.

36 Other

63 US tech companies

54 Asian tech companies

29 European tech companies

“We licensed Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) software, which didn’t really work – firewalls blocked calls. But we realised that our P2P technologies could connect people behind firewalls, which solved the problem. “It took a year to raise the seed money, because no one wanted to invest in an unknown technology. We used a ‘freemium’ model: people made calls for free but could pay in advance for additional services, such as dialling foreign phones, and this made us cash-positive.” Skype was bought by eBay in 2005 for $3bn and Zennström stood down as chief executive in 2007. By then, it was the global leader in internet voice communications, having attracted more than 300 million users within five years of its launch. In 2006, Zennström launched Atomico, a London-based firm that focuses on tech investment opportunities – primarily growth-stage companies outside Silicon Valley. “We look for companies that have the potential to be the global leader in their category, with strong teams who can build the business.” Atomico’s latest fund, its third, closed at $476m and the company now has $800m under management. It has made over 50 investments in Europe, Asia and North and South America, which include Rovio, the Finnish games company that created Angry Birds. Its most successful exit was from Supercell. Atomico sold its stake in the Finnish mobile games company to SoftBank in two transactions in 2013 and 2015 that valued it as a multi-billion-dollar business. Zennström says that when he started his first companies, entrepreneurs were few and far between. But today, there are so many more: people who have worked for start-ups are launching businesses and students are choosing to start their own companies rather than work for banks. He had to sell his companies to raise capital but with the right financing, the new generation of entrepreneurs will grow and consolidate their companies, creating multi-billiondollar businesses. “However, we in Europe need to be there to support them. There’s 14 times more growth capital in the US than in Europe, which needs to become self-sustaining – otherwise European entrepreneurs will go to the US. European institutions need to play a bigger role in investing and helping to build the next generation of global tech giants equal in stature to IKEA, BMW and Louis Vuitton, ensuring that European investors capture and reinvest as much of this value as possible.” “If we get this right, the achievements of the past 15 years will pale in comparison.”_


Jimmy Wales

“ YOU KNOW, THE WIKIPEDIA GUY ” The Wikipedia and Wikia founder shares his thoughts on changing the world ↓ In a tweet, describe what you do. You know, the Wikipedia and Wikia guy. Now executive chair of

Founders Forum

What was your biggest break? My uncle started a computer store in Alabama selling Commodore PET computers. He taught me the first few things I ever knew about using computers. How would you describe your leadership style? Collaborative. I’m not a top-down, command-andcontrol kind of person. Who had the biggest influence in your career? One among many is Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn. When I was first raising money from venture capitalists for Wikia, Reid really went out of his way to help me with wise guidance and advice. Which is the achievement you are most proud of? The Wikipedia community has built one of the most popular and influential websites in the world and it is changing it for the better. What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made in your career? When the dot-com crash happened, I had a small web company with 18 employees. I plunged forward for a year after our revenues collapsed, trying to make it work, trying not to have to lay anyone off. In the end, I had to do this awful “Black Friday”, in which I laid off all but four of us, bringing the company to a near standstill. Can we have five words of advice for the next generation of digital and technology entrepreneurs? Mobile, mobile, mobile, mobile, mobile. Which digital technology or trend has been the most disruptive over the past ten years? I would have to say the mobile internet – both apps and web. And it isn’t over yet. A lot is still changing very quickly, especially in the developing world. Elon Musk says that artificial intelligence is probably our “biggest existential threat”. Do you agree or disagree? I agree. But it’s also inevitable and our biggest existential hope. It’s really important that we get it right. How much money is too much money? Any amount that made you miserable while you were getting it.

What’s the most frustrating aspect of being an entrepreneur operating in Europe? I love Europe but I guess the strangest thing is that employees seem significantly less interested in equity compensation and more interested in cash compensation. That’s unfortunate both for entrepreneurs and for people who work at growing companies. From networks such as Twitter and Facebook to wikis such as Wikipedia, the US is the dominant force in social media. Why has Europe largely failed to make its mark? Haha, because I didn’t live here. What’s the most overrated technology or technology trend? Every time I think something is overrated or overhyped, it ends up being massive. So I’m keeping my mouth shut this time. Android or iOS? Android. CD or MP3? MP3. I don’t think I own a device that can play a CD any more. Printed book or ebook? Both. I love a paper book but ebooks are much more portable and I travel too much. What was the last book you read for pleasure? The Martian by Andy Weir. What was the last album you downloaded? Compton by Dr Dre. What was your favourite video game growing up? I was pretty obsessed with Tetris. What is your favourite European city? London, of course! They’re making the biopic: who would play you? Dominic West. Sure, why not? When you can’t sleep at night, what do you do? I’m really, really good at sleeping.


“I’m not a top-down, command-and-control kind of person”

10 Years

Founders Forum

Pieter van der Does Co-founder: Adyen Serving businesses including Airbnb, Yelp, Groupon and Spotify to name but a few, the online payment company Adyen processes 187 different currencies and boasts a presence on six continents. Van der Does co-founded Adyen in 2006, drawing on his 15 years of experience in the industry, including his time at Bibit, a payment processing company acquired by the Royal Bank of Scotland. Adyen’s mission is “to deliver innovation to the payment industry”. This innovation has resulted in single-click payment processing, as well as in-depth research into consumer behaviour, facilitating systems that help businesses encourage conversion, the holy grail of online shopping. What excites you most about Europe? “Europe is really made out of many different cultures, traditions and languages. When it comes to building an international start-up, we have a huge advantage because we are used to dealing with the complexity.”


10 Years


Pavel Durov Founder: VK and Telegram In a world after Edward Snowden’s NSA information leak, privacy of personal data and online messaging is no longer taken for granted. The Russian-born Durov’s Telegram messaging app aims to counteract the ability of governments and hackers to access online information easily. Focusing on speed and security, Telegram’s features include heavy encryption and even messages that can self-destruct. After launching VK in 2006 – Russia’s top social network, with 50 million unique visitors daily – Durov found himself on the wrong side of the Russian government, following his refusal to hand over requested data. Co-founding Telegram with his brother Nikolai in 2013, Durov left Russia in 2014, telling TechCrunch: “The country is incompatible with internet business at the moment.” What excites you most about Europe? “I think that technology is the key weapon for the new to fight the old in every industry and every country. Services like Uber and Airbnb help circumvent middlemen and overregulation while social networks and messaging apps allow for truth to spread and lies to be exposed.” (Dazed, 2015)

David Buttress Group CEO: JUST EAT JUST EAT floated on the London Stock Exchange in April 2014, valued at £1.47bn. Buttress had been appointed group chief executive officer the previous year. Founded by Jesper Buch in Denmark in 2000, JUST EAT relocated to London in 2006 with Buttress joining to start the UK business. This relocation marked the beginning of the company’s international expansion. JUST EAT now owns operations in the Netherlands, Ireland, India, Switzerland, Italy, Brazil, France, Canada, Mexico and Australia. Buttress’s extensive experience in the food industry includes an eight-year stint at Coca-Cola. On the company website, Buttress explained why he joined JUST EAT: “Great concept, great people and a great place to see how exciting the internet can be in the next few years.” What excites you most about Europe? “Europe, in particular London and Berlin, has a vibrant start-up scene where an ecosystem of investors, entrepreneurs and talent is coming together. The concentration of these key ingredients is what created the Silicon Valley we see today in San Francisco. The best is yet to come!”

2006 2007 ← 2008 2009 2010

2011 2012 2013 2014 2015

Founders Forum




The smartphone not only made the mobile internet easy to master but it ushered in an app economy allowing anyone to build products and services with the promise of enormous reach. Europe’s tech start-ups took up the challenge

In telling the story of European tech entrepreneurship over the past ten years, it is necessary to concede that the trail of innovation occasionally begins thousands of miles beyond the continent’s borders. In the case of the internet-enabled mobile smartphone and the vibrant software service industry that it spawned, that trail starts in San Francisco, California, on 9 January 2007. On the Macworld stage, the Apple co-founder Steve Jobs is showing off the iPhone. It will go on general release in the US that summer and in Europe that autumn. The Apple iPhone marked the beginning of what the technology entrepreneur Hermann Hauser calls the fifth wave of computing. The internet-enabled smartphone is arguably the most significant technology trend of the past decade, vastly changing business and consumer consumption habits and proving a boon to hundreds of European tech start-ups. Apple’s was not the first phone to offer internet connectivity – far from it. WAP (wireless application protocol) phones had begun to appear in the late 1990s but the iPhone offered two things that the earlier incarnations had not. First, it made internet access easy to master. Second, it introduced an app economy, allowing anyone to build products and services on Apple’s platform, approval pending. Google responded to the model a year later, releasing the first version of its own mobile operating system, Android, opening it up to handset manufacturers and software developers. The Rocket Internet co-founder Marc Samwer describes the smartphone as the world’s “most significant mega trend”, while Jacques-Antoine Granjon, the founder of the French online retailer vente-privee, calls it “the magic wand of ecommerce”, liberating the consumer and extending the retailer’s reach. Over 60 per cent of vente-privee’s traffic and as much as half of its turnover today comes through mobile channels, figures reflected elsewhere. Speaking to a conference audience in London in November 2014, Riccardo Zacconi, co-founder of the games maker King, observed: “We built our business on the shoulders of giants.” Benedict Evans, partner at the venture capitalist firm Andreessen Horowitz, argues that the smartphone is now “the sun” around which all other technology and technology trends orbit. In an influential blog post written in May 2015, Evans maintained that mobile is the first tech product in history to enjoy near-ubiquitous ownership.

Featuring Hermann Hauser Taavet Hinrikus Marc Samwer Riccardo Zacconi

He pointed to a global market of 1.5 billion personal computers – half of which are in corporate environments – which are replaced every five years. Compare that to the 3.5 to 4.5 billion mobile phones out of a global adult population of five billion– replaced every two years. The trend from feature phone to smartphone continues at pace.

10 Years


Five waves of computing

One of the implications of a smartphone-centric world is the growing importance of the supply chain, wrote Evans. All of the components of the mobile are available in commodity form to be used in other devices – drones, smart meters, wearables, connected cars and the Internet of Things.

Hermann Hauser defines five stages of postwar technology evolution: 01







Personal computers


Smartphones and the cloud

One of those commodity components, the ARM processor, was initially built for the Acorn computer before it was spun out into a separate business in 1990. As a co-founder of Acorn, Hermann Hauser was intimately involved in the development of both computer company and chip. ARM sold nine billion units in 2012 and is now, in dollar terms, a more important architecture than Intel, indicative of the mobile-first era. (And a case of Europe 1, United States 0, perhaps? “Sadly the scoring system doesn’t quite work that way,” Hauser says.) Taking the long view, Hauser has charted five waves of postwar technology evolution: mainframes, minicomputers, workstations, personal computers and, today, smartphones and the cloud. “The reason the smartphone is as popular and useful as it is, is not just down to the device itself but the access the device gives to all the information in the cloud,” says Hauser. Did Europe see it coming? “In a way, that’s the saddest part of the story because the beginning of the smartphone was the Nokia smartphone. Nokia did have the vision and produced quite acceptable smartphones. They were a bit clunky but had many of the features that then made the iPhone such a success – it did have apps, it did have services. “The huge success of the iPhone was to make this available in a package that was both very attractive to the end user in terms of the interface but also very attractive to the app writers, to the software developers.” If Nokia missed the true significance of the app, the European tech start-ups that followed did not. Many have built their businesses within the app economy, taking advantage of unprecedented distribution and reach. ↳

“We are all carrying a supercomputer in our pockets” Taavet Hinrikus Co-founder, TransferWise

Founders Forum


To bring home the transformation over the past decade, consider these research figures from the UK communications regulator Ofcom. In February 2007, a third of UK adults said they had an internet-enabled mobile phone but only half used their phone to go online, primarily citing a lack of interest and cost as prohibiting factors. By 2014, two-thirds of UK adults had a smartphone, each spending nearly two hours a day online. This trend is replicated across Europe. “Sometimes in Europe, there’s a tendency – especially in the media – to see the platforms as a threat,” says the King founder, Riccardo Zacconi. “I see them very much as a great enabler for European companies that start as small developers to become global players. Not only do they create lots of jobs but large revenues, too.” Taavet Hinrikus of TransferWise believes the full impact of the smartphone has still to play out. Holding up his iPhone 6, he says, “I think this is still the biggest change – the fact that we are all carrying a supercomputer in our pockets. Especially in the US and Europe, I’m not sure we’ve truly seen what this means. It’s probably more visible in developing countries, where people haven’t had a computer – and they will never have a computer.”_

PC versus mobile

5bn global adult population

1.5bn global market of personal computers

4.5bn global market of mobile phones

10 Years


“The smartphone is the magic wand of ecommerce” Jacques-Antoine Granjon Founder, vente-privee

Founders Forum


Key Events

2007 Jan

Steve Jobs unveils first Apple iPhone at Macworld, San Francisco Germany’s Samwer brothers launch Rocket Internet in Berlin

World stock markets plummet after China and Europe release worse-than-expected growth reports

BNP Paribas blocks withdrawals from three hedge funds. Panic ensues, pre-empting 2007-08 financial crisis

Individuals featured in this chapter


Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Media rebrand announced following merger


Sean Parker co-founds Causes, an app that allows people to support charities via Facebook


OLX partners with Yandex to expand into Russian market


Summit Partners acquires 20 per cent stake in vente-privee, valuing the French retailer at $1bn


Alexander Ljung and Eric Wahlforss co-found SoundCloud


John Borthwick launches betaworks


Fon and BT join forces to launch BT FON Community


Google unveils its Android operating system

10 Years

Martín Varsavsky


T HE ENTREPRENEUR WHO ANTICIPATES TECH TRENDS With only one patent to his name, Martín Varsavsky says that his skill lies in identifying technology innovations invented by others that will become commonplace in the future and then developing businesses around them ↳

Founders Forum

“I have sometimes been wrong on financing, but not on technology” Martín Varsavsky Founder, Fon


Martín Varsavsky has founded seven companies in the United States and Europe over the past 25 years, all of which were based on new technologies that he identified in their infancy and helped popularise and grow. But unlike many other tech entrepreneurs, he is not an inventor. His only patent is for Fon, the company he currently chairs that has developed the world’s largest Wi-Fi network with more than 15 million hotspots. “Otherwise, I am just a first mover,” he says. ‘The common thread in the companies I have founded is that they were early technological innovations that have now become commonplace: fibre-optic networks, the internet, Wi-Fi, cloud computing and the like. “There is always a risk of moving too early,” he adds. “My only business that failed was Einsteinet, one of the first European cloud computing companies, which I founded in 2000. The technology was the right one but, unfortunately, it was too far ahead of the cloud computing boom and it was sold in 2003. I lost $15m of my own money.” Varsavsky, who was born in 1960 and grew up in Buenos Aires, seemed destined for an academic career. When he was 16, after the “disappearance” of a cousin, his family was forced to flee to the US, where he graduated in philosophy at New York University and did a Masters in international affairs at Columbia University. He had planned to do a PhD at Oxford University but, after the death of his father when he was 22, he took an MBA at Columbia Business School instead. “I learned how to write a business plan and I started my first business while still studying – developing loft apartments in New York. After completing my MBA, I co-founded Medicorp Sciences together with Professor César Milstein, who won the Nobel Prize in medicine for his work on monoclonal antibodies. It was a biotech company, which developed one of the first diagnostic tests for AIDS.” Varsavsky then switched to telecommunications and the internet, launching Viatel, the first pan-European fibre-optic network, which linked London, Frankfurt and other big cities. He invested $200,000 when he founded the company, listed it on NASDAQ in 1994 and sold his 20 per cent of the shares in 1998, when it was worth $1.2bn. Next came Jazztel, a fibre-optic network in Spain, where he had moved in 1995. It became the country’s second-largest publicly traded telecom company and was worth $770m when he left it.

Career facts 1960: Born in in Argentina 1995: Moved to Spain Founded seven companies in the last 25 years 2006: Founded Fon, now the biggest Wi-Fi network with 15 million hotspots

In May 1999, he founded Internet Factory, the second-largest internet portal in Spanish, with an investment of $28m. It was sold 17 months later to Deutsche Telekom for $500m. And in 2005, he co-founded Eolia, which has become one of Spain’s largest renewable energy companies. The creation of Fon in 2005 brought a peer-to-peer approach to Wi-Fi: members who share a bit of their home Wi-Fi get free access to millions of other similar Fon hotspots worldwide. Customers become members by buying a Fon router but may also be able to use Fon if their internet service provider is a Fon partner, such as BT, KPN or T-Mobile. Investors were sceptical about Wi-Fi, which they saw as a fad that would be overtaken by 3G or 4G. But Varsavsky believed that Wi-Fi would soon be everywhere and it now accounts for 80 per cent of cellular and mobile traffic on the iPhone 6.

10 Years


What’s next for the European tech scene?

“I have sometimes been wrong on financing but not on technology. Finance operates in a manic-depressive environment unrelated to tech trends, which continue to develop even when funding is scarce. It dried up in 2001 after the dot-com bust and in 2008 – 09 during the financial crisis but now you can finance anything – even terrible projects. Entrepreneurs know that finance is like the weather: you have to raise money when you can.”

“MedTech. Europe is extremely well positioned to compete in MedTech with a larger and healthier population than in the United States. Europe has some of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world who can buy MedTech start-ups: something that is not true in traditional tech. Europe has a large share of the patents and discoveries in the medical field and can compete globally. In the field that my new company Prelude Fertility works in, Europe is much more advanced than the United States. In the US, four million babies are born each year and they do 170,000 IVFs, while in Europe, five million babies are born a year but with 600,000 IVFs.” – Martín Varsavsky

He also has an investment fund that has supported many earlystage companies. They include Tumblr, which was worth $2m when he invested and was sold for $1.2bn, the genetic testing company 23andMe and Aura Biosciences, whose new ocular melanoma treatment is seeking approval in the US. He says that he only invests in things that he has special knowledge about, or products he would like to make if he wasn’t so busy with Fon. “The team behind the idea is also very important. There were many competitors of Facebook and Google, because the ideas were not unique, but it was the entrepreneurs that made the difference. When I’m judging an entrepreneur, I look for someone I would hang out with for a coffee – there has to be some personal chemistry.” Do the different cultures in European countries make it harder to succeed in social media than in the US? Varsavsky says that the success of American companies may reflect ignorance: unlike Europeans, with their awareness of their historical divisions, Americans are unaware of cultural differences that may not in reality be important when going global. “The most successful companies are oblivious to differences,” he says. One big difference, however, is in attitudes to finance. Europe lacks the aggressive financing that is available in the US, where they are more willing to lose money. That is why he often raises finance in the US. “Americans exceed in the extremes and Europeans are in the middle. And companies have more power in the United States – there is no European telecom operator that has the power of Verizon in the States. The winner takes it all there, which is why it has some of the richest companies in the world.” Despite the advantages of doing business in the US, he says that he loves the cultural diversity and lifestyle in Europe, which is why he has chosen to build global businesses such as Fon from Spain. He also likes that Europe is a fairer continent – he would rather live in a country with the richest poor people, which makes the rest better off as a result. “Ideally, I would work in the United States and live in Europe. But unfortunately, we do not yet have a one-hour flight to commute on. So I divide my time between the States and Europe.”_

Founders Forum

Sir Richard Branson Founder: Virgin Group Virgin is a leading international investment group and one of the world’s most recognised and respected brands. Conceived in 1970 by Branson, the Virgin Group has gone on to grow successful businesses in sectors including mobile telephony, travel and transportation, financial services, leisure and entertainment and health and wellness. It all began with Virgin Records. (The name Virgin, Branson explained in his autobiography, reflects that the founders were “virgins” in the industry.) Branson is now worth $5bn, according to Forbes. As one of Britain’s wealthiest entrepreneurs, he uses his visibility to promote philanthropy. In 2004, Branson established Virgin Unite, the non-profit foundation of the Virgin Group, which unites people and entrepreneurial ideas to create opportunities for a better world. Most of his time is now spent building businesses that will make a positive difference in the world and working with Virgin Unite and the organisations it has incubated, such as the Elders, the Carbon War Room, the B Team, Ocean Unite and the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship. Why would you invest in Europe now? “There are hubs of innovation springing up all over Europe, resulting in forward-thinking companies that can rival any other continent. You only have to look at the number of FinTech and sharing economy start-ups to have emerged in the last couple years. Europe is not just holding its own, it’s leading the field in many sectors, while the way it has embraced crowd-funding shows you that there are an awful lot of people ready to back these new companies with their own money.”


10 Years


Fabrice Grinda Co-founder and former CEO: OLX Now a prolific angel investor reportedly making a new investment every 15 days, Grinda’s portfolio includes BlaBlaCar, Delivery Hero, Airbnb and Lending Club. No stranger to the intricacies involved in entrepreneurship, Grinda has three successful businesses under his belt. After he co-founded Aucland in 1999, the company grew to become the second-biggest auction website in France, with Grinda selling his stake in 2000. He then founded Zingy, a US mobile product service that he sold for $80m in 2004. Following these two exits, Grinda co-founded the free classified ad website OLX in 2006. Selling OLX in 2010, Grinda remained on as CEO until 2013, helping it grow to become the largest classifieds site in six countries, including India and Brazil. What excites you most about Europe? “Europe has infinite potential. Some people look at Europe and see highly fragmented and regulated labour and product markets with large, inefficient states. That’s true but it also means that technology can unleash a globally unprecedented productivity revolution in Europe that will transform economies and lives for the better.”

John Borthwick Founder and CEO: betaworks Described by TechCrunch as “the start-up studio to rule them all”, Borthwick’s betaworks breaks the mould of a traditional venture capital investment company. With a combination of in-house and third-party products and services, its portfolio ranges from the microblogging site Tumblr – sold to Yahoo! for $1.2bn in 2013 – to Dots, a mobile gaming studio. While others struggle to define betaworks, Borthwick simply says, “At betaworks, we aim to build apps that people love.” With a prolific production line – it announced the launch of six new products in 2013 alone – Borthwick is quick to point out that the company is not afraid to close down products that aren’t working, estimating that 20 projects have been shuttered since betaworks launched in 2007. What excites you most about Europe? “The diversity of people, talent, ideas and culture that exists in Europe. We live in a time when builders, makers, creators of all types have the opportunity, the obligation, to shape and reshape the world around them and bring to it a European perspective, a humanised perspective, of technology.”

2006 2007 2008 ← 2009 2010

2011 2012 2013 2014 2015

Founders Forum




Inefficiency, emerging internetenabled technologies and a loss of trust in banks made financial services ripe for disruption. In the telling of the history of FinTech, 2008 looms large

The London headquarters of TransferWise has all the hallmarks of start-up chic and few of the signs of the financial sector to which it belongs. From the red-brick reception to the glass-and-steel open-plan office space and the values statements that emblazon every spare wall, it screams 21st-century entrepreneurship. “No Drama. Good Karma” is painted on one wall; “This isn’t just a job, it’s a revolution” on another. This is not traditional financial services. This is FinTech. Appropriately, the TransferWise office is within striking distance of the City of London (Fin) and the Silicon Roundabout (Tech) in what might be dubbed London’s “Square Mile and a half ”. TransferWise was founded by two Estonian friends, Taavet Hinrikus and Kristo Käärmann. Both based in the UK in the mid-2000s, Hinrikus needed to transfer money from his account in Estonia while Käärmann needed to send money home. Frustrated by the punitive rates that banks were charging, they agreed to keep their money where it was and privately match each other’s expenses. It was their “a-ha moment”. TransferWise was founded in 2010 and launched a year later. If that was the big idea, the opportunity to make it happen was wrapped in three interlocking trends – an inefficient financial services sector ripe for disruption; internet-enabled technologies that promised a cheaper, more efficient and networked alternative; and a chronic loss of trust in the banking system that followed the global financial crisis. When historians come to carbon-date the emergence of the FinTech sector, 15 September 2008 will feature prominently. It was the day that Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy protection. The collapse of one of Wall Street’s biggest names helped precipitate – and came to characterise – the financial crisis. “The trust thing is very important and the banks lost a lot of it during the crisis,” says Hinrikus. “Without the banking crisis, I don’t think FinTech would be as far along as it is.” Around the same time, Samir Desai was working for the private equity firm Olivant. He was asked to look at a potential purchase of Northern Rock, where funding problems had led to the first run on a British bank in a century. Desai saw for himself the inefficiencies of the small business lending market. And, like Hinrikus, he saw an opportunity. Sitting seven years later in the offices of Funding Circle, the company he co-founded, Desai considers the impact of the financial crisis.

Featuring Ana Botín Samir Desai Taavet Hinrikus Ed Wray

“Would I have quit my job if it hadn’t happened? I don’t know. But the crisis was definitely a catalyst within the financial services sector,” he says. “Before the crisis, although no one had really liked banks, people trusted banks. And the financial crisis meant they stopped trusting them.

10 Years


The amount Funding Circle investors have lent between 2010 – 2014

“Banks massively overstretched themselves and required government help. Banks are much more risk averse and much more regulated, so that sucked capital out of the market. It was a perfect storm.” Funding Circle, a marketplace that connects borrowers and lenders, and TransferWise, which matches foreign transfer flows, are just two examples of FinTech firms that have prospered in Europe post-2008.



Coupled with the financial crisis, technologies such as mobile and the cloud helped remove the economic barriers and allowed start-ups to challenge incumbent providers. The fall in costs was dramatic. Hinrikus notes: “Ten or 20 years ago, you would need $5m and you’d use it to buy some servers and a big, fat database licence. Now, you don’t need to do that. You’d do it all in the cloud.” Reflecting a similar truth, Ed Wray, non-executive director at Funding Circle and co-founder of Betfair, recalls spending $1m on a storage array system in 2001 that had the capacity of just 850 gigabytes. “Today, storage is almost free,” he says.

The amount Funding Circle investors now lend annually

Desai describes the internet as the enabler but the real power is the network effect. “We have thousands of businesses borrowing and thousands of individuals lending. We are able to accumulate vast quantities of data to get better and better at acquiring businesses which want to borrow and investors that want to lend. “The true beauty of a marketplace is that you should be able to lend to more businesses than a bank, quicker and eventually cheaper, with better levels of services.” Since launch, investors at Funding Circle have lent $1.2bn to over 10,000 businesses in the UK and US and is now processing more than $1.2bn annually. What is the future for banks? Hinrikus isn’t convinced they have one. “Are banks going to be around in ten years time? There’s no need for them. You can get a loan through Funding Circle; you can do payments with TransferWise.” What about cash? “There will be no need for cash. You will pay with your phone.”

Funding Circle Founded in 2010 A business marketplace that connects borrowers with lenders Since launch, Funding Circle investors have lent over $1.2bn to more than 10,000 businesses in UK and US

TransferWise’s relationship with traditional banks is confrontational. It rallied an army of underwear-clad demonstrators for its “Nothing to hide” campaign and runs poster adverts that use currency symbols to barely disguise the expletive-ridden copy used to express, by proxy, consumer frustration with transfer rates. This is more than marketing, says Hinrikus. Asked if he really believes the banks are ripping people off, he answers simply, “Absolutely.” On the marketing stunts, he says: “You need to give people a little shock to overcome inertia.” Funding Circle once ran advertising copy that read, “No thanks, banks”, but its approach is now more consensual. While Desai believes that banks will become less relevant, he says: ↳

Founders Forum

“If I manage it properly, I can create a FinTech start-up within Santander” Ana Botín Executive chairman, Santander


“There’s always going to be a place for banks, just in the same way that there’s always a place for offline stores.” Funding Circle has relationships with more established institutions. For example, in 2014, it announced a “signposting agreement” with Santander. The partnership was a significant moment for the retail banking world – a major bank substantiated the peer-to-peer industry. Ana Botín, Santander’s executive chairman, admires FinTech firms such as Funding Circle for their “shared mission to help businesses prosper and their ability to apply new tools and technologies and harness data”. However, she prefers to be in her position – a model that combines “personal interaction with technology” at scale. “We are in ten major markets with 107 million customers that know us,” she says. “In the UK, we went from zero to a million mobile customers in four years.” She believes that the combination of being able to reach customers physically and locally – Santander has 40,000 branches across Europe and the Americas – as well as at any time and anywhere via the smartphone is a potent mix.

TransferWise A peer-to-peer marketplace that matches foreign transfer flows Founded in 2010 and launched in 2011 by Taavet Hinrikus and Kristo Käärmann Backed by those behind Virgin, PayPal, Skype, Betfair, and others

Santander 2014 “signposting agreement” with Funding Circle 40,000 branches and 107 million customers in ten major markets Zero to a million UK mobile customers in four years

“If I manage it properly, our bank and FinTech can work together as partners. We’re already inviting FinTech start-ups inside to help reinvent our core infrastructure and processes to better service our customers.” Hinrikus acknowledges that these are early days for FinTech, estimating that TransferWise has between 2–4 per cent of the UK money transfer market. “Globally, our share is zero,” he concedes. He thinks that it will take perhaps five more years for FinTech to reach 10 per cent of the finance market. Desai agrees that FinTech is a nascent area (“We are very, very early”) and says that the opportunity to grow is enormous. “The market for lending to small business is worth £7bn each month in the UK and $40bn per month in the US. That’s more than enough if you take 20–30 per cent of the market,” he says. “Because the size of the markets are so big, there’s no constraint on growth.” Back in TransferWise’s well-appointed offices, it’s easy to see why London has emerged as a centre for FinTech innovation. Hinrikus describes his company as “European, headquartered in London with a very strong Estonian heritage”, and contrasts “the coming together of a big finance centre and quite a big tech centre” in London with the US – where the finance hub, New York, is on one coast, while the tech hub, Silicon Valley, is on the other. While Desai agrees that London is “particularly strong in FinTech”, he notes that Lending Club, the biggest lending marketplace in the world, is a product of Silicon Valley. He believes that London’s FinTech success is indicative of a wider trend. “You can now build a business anywhere in the world. It doesn’t have to be in Silicon Valley.”_

10 Years


Key Events


Worldwide stock market slide on “Black Monday”


Sun Microsystems pays $1bn for Swedish open source software venture MySQL Alex Chesterman launches property website Zoopla


Bebo sold to AOL for $850m


Mind Candy launches Moshi Monsters


Carphone Warehouse and Best Buy launch Best Buy Europe


The Shazam app for iPhone launches

China hosts the Summer Olympics


Ben Medlock and Jon Reynolds found SwiftKey

Lehman Brothers files for bankruptcy protection, becoming first major bank to collapse since start of financial crisis


Google announces the first mobile phone with its mobile operating system, Android


Spotify launches music streaming service

Usain Bolt breaks the 100m world record, completing it in 9.72 seconds

José Neves launches Farfetch Rocket Internet acquires German fashion retailer SoundCloud platform launches Barack Obama wins US presidential election

Individuals featured in this chapter



Daniel Ek

“ HARDER, BETTER, FASTER, STRONGER ” Spotify’s founder on transforming the music industry and being proudly Swedish ↓

Founders Forum

In a tweet, describe what you do. I’m the founder and CEO of Spotify, the music streaming service that aims to bring music to everyone in the world and connects artists and fans. What was your biggest break? Starting Spotify was a perfect storm. I’d grown up with Napster, Kazaa and Limewire and it was so obvious that music fans wanted to consume music online. But the industry was fighting this change hard, as there wasn’t a clear way of monetisation. To me, the solution was simple. We couldn’t reverse piracy but we could do something that was better for music fans, artists and the industry alike. How would you describe your leadership style? Spotify has a very open, collaborative, flat structure, which I think is quite Swedish. My motto in work is: harder, better, faster, stronger. Who had the biggest influence in your career? I have been highly influenced by the Swedish entrepreneur Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of IKEA, I speak frequently to Mark Zuckerberg and I very much respect the business philosophy of Howard Schultz of Starbucks. Which is the achievement you are most proud of? Becoming a father. Can we have five words of advice for the next generation of digital and technology entrepreneurs? Spend time building the team. If there was no internet, what would you have done? I’ve loved music ever since I got my first guitar at the age of four, so I like to think that I would have always found a career in music in some capacity. Which digital technology or trend has been the most disruptive over the past ten years? Smartphones utterly changed the way in which humans communicate, interact with each other, spend their time and access information. Android or iOS? I’m into tech, so I use all platforms and usually more than one at any given point.

Elon Musk says that artificial intelligence is probably our “biggest existential threat”. Do you agree or disagree? Every generation has found itself challenged by the future of technology – the splitting of the atom, the printing press. The question is not: “Should we be scared of the future?” It’s how we should control it to benefit mankind. What’s the most frustrating aspect of being an entrepreneur operating in Europe? It’s mind-boggling that Europe doesn’t have it’s own Google or Microsoft. I think it’s time to show the world that we can build long-term, solid and big-scale corporations that pave the way forward. CD or MP3? It’s all about streaming now, any time and anywhere. Printed book or ebook? I love holding a printed book but it’s undeniable that an ebook is hugely convenient. Both please! Your Wikipedia entry: fact or fiction? I had to look it up. It’s short and sweet. Not fully accurate, though, I would say. I may need to look at that. And ask them to change the photo! What was the last CD you bought/track you downloaded? Haha, I don’t understand the question. Sorry. What is your favourite European city? I’m very proud to be from Stockholm. Sweden is a small country that’s been able to create an incredible amount. If you look at the Billboard chart, 25 per cent of the songs are written or produced by Swedes. When you can’t sleep at night, what do you do? I travel a lot, so jet lag can be an issue. However, I have now got a travel guitar, which I take with me everywhere. It’s really cool – you can fold it, plug headphones into it. Then I can play wherever I am and whatever time of night it is.


“It’s all about streaming now, any time and anywhere”

10 Years

Founders Forum

Sir Charles Dunstone



10 Years


“In those days, you couldn’t raise lots of money to start a business and recruit people, so it was fairly hand-to-mouth stuff” Sir Charles Dunstone Founder and chairman, Carphone Warehouse Group

Sir Charles Dunstone started Carphone Warehouse in 1989, selling mobile phones from a London flat. In 2003, he founded TalkTalk, now one of the UK’s largest broadband and voice telephony providers. Today, he is the chairman of Dixons Carphone, a FTSE 100 company selling connected technology in nine European countries →

In the late 1980s, mobile phones were a new product: their handsets were the size of bricks and mainly large companies such as Shell and Xerox bought them. But Sir Charles Dunstone, who was working for the mobile-manufacturer NEC, was convinced that mobile phones could appeal to many more customers. So, with just £6,000 of savings, he and a partner began selling them in 1989, from a flat on London’s Marylebone Road. “I could see that the people who would benefit most from mobile phones were the self-employed and those running very small businesses, because they could get more work done while they were at work. But they lacked the infrastructure of a big company to support their use, so we founded Carphone Warehouse to provide that support,” he recalls. It was the UK’s first mobile retailer, selling the products of all four manufacturers of handsets and connecting them to either of the two networks. As more manufacturers and networks sprang up, Carphone Warehouse grew rapidly. Dunstone brought in people he had worked with or had met in the mobile industry to build the team. “In those days, you couldn’t raise lots of money to start a business and recruit people, so it was fairly hand-to-mouth stuff. There were few angel investors or venture capital funds and we never borrowed money. So, when we floated the company in 2000, we had no debt and no outside investors. “The availability of funding today means that entrepreneurs can give away too much equity at the start and find themselves with a minority stake when they go public. That gives the outside investors a free ride. They didn’t put the effort into it that the founders did. With no outside funding, we were able to control the company after the IPO,” he says.

Career facts Founded Carphone Warehouse in 1989 Launched TalkTalk in 2003 Carphone Warehouse sold a 50 per cent share of its retail business to Best Buy in 2008, launching Best Buy Europe

As ordinary consumers joined the mobile revolution, Carphone Warehouse expanded fast, eventually opening more than 2,400 stores across Europe. But it was only after three years that Dunstone felt sure that the company would survive. “Like most entrepreneurs, I learned that running a business is more about cash flow than profitability. There are plenty of profitable businesses that go bankrupt because they can’t support the cash flow.” Another technical development led to the foundation of a second business with the launch in 2003 of TalkTalk. Deregulation of fixedline telephony allowed customers to sign up for BT’s competitors and use its wholesale network by dialling a code at the start of a telephone number. Carphone Warehouse had already bought Opal Telecom, which had a switching network, and TalkTalk was launched with a guarantee that its calls would be cheaper than BT’s. “We attracted three and half million fixed-line customers, 12 per cent of the market. But with the arrival of broadband, it became clear ↳

Founders Forum


What do you think Europe needs to change to be more competitive?

that customers would also want that from their fixed-line provider. So either we had to provide broadband to them, or sell the business. And, as more of a go-forward than a go-backwards business, we got into selling broadband as well.

“Europe needs to look forwards, not backwards. Unfortunately, Europe is trapped by an inability to embrace technology and blames Silicon Valley for all its woes. Things have changed and will simply never be the same. Many of the politicians and business leaders look like King Canute trying to turn back the tide.” – Sir Charles Dunstone

“We completely repriced the broadband market, launching at a very aggressive price that created more demand than we could deal with. Our call centres were unable to cope, because we hadn’t anticipated how attractive our proposition was. Having bought AOL UK and Tiscali, we had to merge three different systems in a fast-moving market. We just had to grind through it and although we eventually built a large customer base, it was one of the worst moments of my career.” TalkTalk and Carphone Warehouse split in 2010, with Dunstone as chairman of both. Since then, TalkTalk has become a “quadruple play” service provider, offering customers fixed and mobile telephony, broadband and pay television. Meanwhile, in 2008, Carphone Warehouse had sold a 50 per cent share of its retail business to Best Buy in the US to launch the Best Buy Europe joint venture. It also set up mobile outlets in 1,000 Best Buy stores in the US, as well as 350 of its own stores. Eventually, the two companies bought back their businesses, making a $2.5bn profit for Carphone Warehouse in what Dunstone calls the best deal he ever did. His latest deal, completed in August 2014, was a merger with Dixons Retail to create Europe’s leading specialist electrical and telecommunications retailer and services company, with more than 40,000 employees. In addition to operating over 3,000 stores in nine European countries, it provides business-to-business services through Connected World Services. “By putting Carphone Warehouse into PC World and Currys stores, we can produce a huge amount of additional and profitable business. PC World and Currys have more space for products such as tablets and computers than we do and we have the ability to connect them to networks and service them,” says Dunstone. Outside the two companies he has founded, he has a private office that invests in early-stage businesses such as the UK branch of Five Guys, the US burger restaurant chain, and the Boxpark pop-up malls housed in shipping containers. He also has a charitable foundation, which sponsors an academy school in Lancashire and supports other causes. He has just stood down as chairman of the Prince’s Trust, where in 2009 he founded the Enterprise Fellowship to support young entrepreneurs. And as a keen sailor, he is the chairman of Ben Ainslie Racing, which is backing Sir Ben’s bid to win the America’s Cup. As an entrepreneur who has gone from selling mobiles from a flat to chairing a FTSE 100 company, Dunstone says that he has learned the skills as his career developed. “I often didn’t know what I was doing. But sometimes you have to do something that feels really daunting and you deal with it. And you think, ‘I got away with that.’ The more you meet people at the top of big organisations, the more you realise that they’re human and fallible – and they’re not sure what they’re doing, either. “But I enjoy working with a team of people for a common purpose,” he adds. “It’s fun to make something happen and to overcome the friction that’s holding it back.”_

10 Years


Michael Acton Smith Founder: Mind Candy The Guardian once called Moshi Monsters “the fastestgrowing children’s gaming site in the world”. Mind Candy was founded by Acton Smith in 2004, with Moshi Monsters, Mind Candy’s most successful release to date, launched in 2007. Acton Smith credits the success of Moshi Monsters – conceived as an online world where children create and look after a pet “monster” while solving puzzles and completing activities – with the introduction of social capabilities that allow game players to interact with one another. Acton Smith explained to TechCrunch, “If we could create the safe place online, we could create Facebook for kids.” And that is exactly what Mind Candy has done. Expanding beyond its online presence, which in 2011 included half of all children in the UK, the Moshi Monsters brand includes soft toys, trading cards and Moshi Monsters Magazine. What excites you most about Europe? “I’m excited by Europe because it’s a melting pot of a wide range of different industries – fashion, gaming, media, finance, advertising, music, and so on. The experienced talent and diversity are creating some fantastic new companies.”

Ben Medlock Co-founder and CTO: SwiftKey Featured on over 250 million devices around the world, SwiftKey was the result of a frustration with touchscreen typing that Medlock shared with its co-founder Jon Reynolds. With a PhD in computer science from Cambridge, Medlock used his knowledge in natural language processing and machine learning to create a keyboard that learns from each user, adapting to their individual use of language. SwiftKey was released for Android in 2010, featuring in both Google’s and Apple’s top apps of 2014. Since its launch, the app has won multiple awards, including most innovative mobile app at the 2012 Groupe Speciale Mobile (GSM) Awards. It is now available in more than 100 languages. What excites you most about Europe? “Europe has such a great heritage in technology innovation, particularly in exciting growth areas such as artificial intelligence. I’m looking forward to seeing us combine this with increasing influence in hi-tech industries and a growing entrepreneurial drive.”

2006 2007 2008 2009 ← 2010

2011 2012 2013 2014 2015

Founders Forum




Does traditional regulation still have a role in an era of digital disruption? Even Europe’s former competition commissioner has her doubts

In late 2009, Neelie Kroes was being considered for a second five-year term as an EU commissioner. Coming to the end of her stint heading Europe’s competition watchdog – where her no-nonsense style had earned her the nickname “Steelie Neelie” – Kroes knew that the then European Commission president, José Manuel Barroso, was an admirer of her work. However, she thought a second term highly unlikely, not least because she was now an opposition politician in her native Netherlands. In the event, she was invited to head up Europe's digital agenda, with particular oversight of IT and telecoms. Some observers painted it as a downgrade on her former role. Nevertheless, when her appointment was confirmed on 24 November 2009, the Dutch prime minister, Jan Peter Balkenende, declared: “She will have a portfolio that’s important for the future of Europe; she will be dealing with ecommerce, digitalisation, mobile telephony, brand, all kinds of things that have to do with the new technological reality.” For her part, Kroes describes the role as “the best pick ever”, a policy portfolio that put her at the heart of the “disruptive economies with consequences for sectors such as health, education and environment”. Many of the battles that she started – and those she joined – are still ongoing. The issue of mobile phone roaming charges is one area that leaves her incredulous, inflated call charges running at odds with “a single market without boundaries”. She blames the slow progress on telecoms companies “lobbying like hell”. Policy making and regulation in “the new technological reality” remains complex and incomplete. Voices elsewhere in this book express frustration with regulators who they implore to get out of the way and allow entrepreneurialism to flower. Others, with an air of fatalism, suggest that attempting to regulate such a fast-moving arena as digital is an impossible task. “People are starting to ask themselves what is the role of top-down regulation,” says Rachel Botsman, an author and commentator who specialises in collaborative consumption and the sharing economy. “Does traditional regulation still have a role? And how can regulators protect consumer safety but also protect providers, too, in order to let innovation thrive?”


The regulatory response to ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft is a case in point. Opponents of these services suggest, among other complaints, that the vetting of drivers is too lax. But, says Botsman, “the process to become a taxi driver is less rigorous than the process to become a Lyft or Uber driver… In many parts of the US, you can have a criminal record and still become a taxi driver.

Rachel Botsman Taavet Hinrikus Neelie Kroes Ed Wray

“I laugh when people say, ‘Uber is going to have to shut down because the regulator won’t allow it,’” says Ed Wray, co-founder of Betfair and non-executive director of Funding Circle.

10 Years


“I laugh when people say Uber will shut down because the regulator won’t allow it” Ed Wray Co-founder, Betfair

Neelie Kroes EC competition commissioner, 2004 – 2010 EC commissioner for Digital Agenda, 2010 – 2014 Named in Forbes magazine’s “The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women” five times

“The regulator might say that anyone who wants to carry a paying passenger might have to ensure their car is safe. That’s fine but they won’t shut down Uber.” Wray has had regulatory battles of his own. As the world’s largest betting exchange, Betfair was accused of “driving a coach and horses through regulation” both in Europe and elsewhere, most notably in Australia. “It’s nonsense. We were presenting things in a different way and the regulator eventually realised that.” Kroes also believes that the case against Uber is overplayed and that opponents need to appreciate the technological “facts of life”. The smartphone is changing everything, she says. “People are used to the reality that there are no travel agents on the corner of the street any more. People are booking holidays through their computers. The same with banking – they are doing it for themselves. “If you are looking for a taxi, you want it right away, an efficient and safe service.” And to those who say parts of the sharing economy are undermining workers’ rights, she says: “Travel agents – they found new models, they offered new jobs. Or else people moved on to another job. If you want to remain in yesterday, that’s fine but it’s not the best place to be.” Both Botsman and Wray believe that it is now a case of constant catch-up for regulators. “By the time policymakers solve the current issue, these companies are going to innovate again,” says Botsman, while Wray adds: “Like everyone else, regulators will have to iterate their solutions.” “Some regulators need to get out of the mentality of thinking about yesterday,” says Kroes of her erstwhile peers. Others are more forgiving. Taavet Hinrikus, co-founder of the London-based FinTech start-up TransferWise, says with particular reference to financial services: “Regulation in Europe is in better shape than regulation in the US. In the US, it is state-by-state regulation that makes it very complicated. In Europe, you have something called ‘passporting’, so you get a licence in one country and then you ‘passport’ to every other country. It makes things a lot easier.” Indeed, FinTech start-ups often escape the red tape imposed on more established financial services rivals because they act as marketplaces or peer-to-peer networks that do not need to hold vast amounts of capital. But not all of Europe’s entrepreneurial ventures benefit from a light touch. Entrepreneurs and regulators alike are now putting their faith in the digital single market initiative championed by the current EC President, Jean-Claude Juncker, and designed to address the disjointed ecommerce and services landscape throughout Europe. As a result of differing consumption tax regimes across the European Union’s 28 member states, coupled with examples of bias towards ↳

Founders Forum


Digital single market

domestic providers and varying protections of personal data, even in 2015 just 15 per cent of European consumers buy their goods online from another EU nation. Moreover, as the commission’s figures show, fewer than one in ten small and medium-sized businesses sell cross-border.

Only 15 per cent of consumers buy goods online from another country Fewer than one in ten small businesses sell cross-border A digital single market could increase European GDP by €415bn a year

The commission believes that the digital single market could increase European GDP by €415bn a year and, in a rhetorical flourish, it promised in May 2015 to “tear down regulatory walls and finally move from 28 national markets to a single one”. Among the 16 key functions that underpin the digital single market are harmonised EU rules on contracts and consumer rights, an end to “unjustified” geo-blocking, an overhaul of European copyright rules and a commitment to create incentives for investments in high-speed broadband. Although no longer directly involved in the works of the commission, Neelie Kroes believes that a digital single market is essential. “If the crown jewel of Europe is a single market – the biggest economic market on earth – then let it function.”_

“If the crown jewel of Europe is a single market, it’s time to let it function” Neelie Kroes Former European commissioner

10 Years


Key Events

2009 UK experiences worst snowfall in 20 years


Marc Simoncini’s Meetic acquires European branch of Jan Koum co-founds WhatsApp with Brian Acton

State leaders meet at the G20 summit in London and discuss the global financial crisis


Michael Jackson King of Pop, dies


Peter Arvai launches Prezi


Naspers purchases 91 per cent stake in Buscapé for $342m


Farfetch expands to the US through a joint venture


Kristian Segerstrale sells Playfish to Electronic Arts Sir Tim Berners-Lee co-founds the Open Data Institute, London

UN holds climate change summit

Individuals featured in this chapter


Rovio Entertainment releases Angry Birds

Founders Forum


Jan Koum Co-founder and CEO: WhatsApp WhatsApp has over 900 million users, with Forbes crediting it as “the world's biggest mobile messaging service”. Koum co-founded the service with Brian Acton in 2009, two years after they both resigned from Yahoo!. Born in Ukraine, Koum moved to the United States when he was 16, and in a classic rags-to-riches tale went from working odd jobs as a teenager to an estimated net worth of $7.9bn. WhatsApp was originally conceived as an app that allowed people to update their status, indicating to others in their address book if they were unavailable. It soon morphed into an instant messaging service when people began asking questions and replying to status updates. Koum sold WhatsApp to Facebook for $19bn in 2014. It was Facebook’s largest acquisition. In an ironic twist, Koum now sits on the board of Facebook after being turned down for a position at the company in 2007. What excites you most about Europe? “Our goal in creating WhatsApp was to empower people through technology and communication, no matter who they are, or where they live. We wanted to improve people’s lives in some small way.” (WhatsApp blog, 2013)

Romero Rodrigues Co-founder and former CEO: Buscapé In 1998, Rodrigues and a friend were browsing online, looking for a new printer. Struggling to compare prices and technical specifications of different brands, they soon realised what was lacking – a one-stop price comparison and shopping website. Buscapé was the result, soon expanding from its native Brazil to 15 countries in South America, as well as the US and Spain. Today, it boasts 30 million visits a month. Its growth was facilitated by various acquisitions over ten years, including Bondfaro, Lomadee, e-bit, QueBarato! and Bcash. In 2009, Rodrigues sold Buscapé for $374m. Staying on as CEO for six years, he stepped down in September 2015 to be replaced by the head of Buscapé’s Brazilian operations, Rodrigo Borer. What do you think Europe needs to change to become more competitive? “I believe the European tech scene would benefit from having more tech hubs. Although London and Berlin are definitely strong hubs, the cultural diversity of Europe and all of its innovation potential cannot be unleashed without more tech scenes spread in different countries and cities. It’s the same thing here in Brazil and Latin America in general, where I’m an active investor.”

10 Years


Marc Simoncini Founder: Meetic Simoncini founded iFrance, one of the first online hosting platforms in France, in 1996. Six years later, he founded the online dating site Meetic. After growing the company for nine years until it became one of the most prominent online dating communities for singles in Europe, with more than 20 million members, Simoncini sold a controlling stake in the company to in 2011. A vocal proponent of the importance of entrepreneurship, he then launched the Ecole Européenne des Métiers de l’Internet in 2011 with fellow French tech entrepreneurs Xavier Niel and Jacques-Antoine Granjon, designed to train the next generation of internet start-up pioneers. What do you think Europe needs to change to become more competitive? “The internet is a global business. We are all running the same race. But our competitors are in shorts and running shoes while I’m running in big boots and a rucksack. It is a disaster if you want to move fast.” (The Financial Times, 2007)

Peter Arvai Co-founder: Prezi Arvai, Péter Halácsy and Ádám Somlai-Fischer co-founded Prezi in 2009 with one fundamental goal: ideas-sharing. Prezi reinvented the presentation, a tool that many use to exchange their ideas with others. With a seemingly simple feature of its software – the ability to zoom in – Prezi designed the presentation around the way people actually think, adding context and illustrating relationships between details and the bigger picture. As Arvai explains on the Prezi website, it “helps you organise your thoughts and deliver them in a clearer way that really makes an impact on your audience”. Based in Budapest and San Francisco, today Prezi has more than 60 million users around the world. What do you think Europe needs to change to become more competitive? “We need to embrace the creative mindset of finding your intrinsic motivation, making yourself vulnerable and challenging basic assumptions.”


José Neves

Founders Forum



“If you tell people you’ll change the world, Europeans think you’re crazy”

The Farfetch founder on the importance of passion and being a geeky shoe designer ↓ In a tweet, describe what you do. I am a tech/fashion revolutionary, currently CEO of Farfetch. What was your biggest break? Launching Farfetch. How would you describe your leadership style? I focus on the big ideas and then let my people deliver on them whichever way they prefer.

What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made in your career? There were so many. But I have noticed that I always failed spectacularly when the rationale for action was purely financial, with no passion behind it. Can we have five (okay six) words of advice for the next generation of entrepreneurs? Be passionate about what you do.

What’s the most frustrating aspect of being an entrepreneur operating in Europe? Europe’s mindset. If you tell people you’ll change the world, Europeans think you’re crazy or a snake-oil salesman. If you tell them you will run a decent small business in a cautious way, they think you’re virtuous. In the US or China, it’s the opposite. How much money is too much money? Money is just a temporary token. If the token is passed to you, this is the world telling you that you have the responsibility to do something with it. What’s your favourite app? ASAP54. Being a fashion as well as a tech guy, this app is the perfect digital snack. Android or iOS? iOS. CD or MP3? Streaming.

If there was no internet, what would you have done? I’d probably be a geeky shoe designer.

Printed book or ebook? Both.

Which digital technology or trend has been the most disruptive over the past ten years? The merger of digital technologies with the physical; taking businesses that are gigantic, like transportation, which can only be delivered in a physical place and time, and using mobile and digital to transform them. These industries are worth trillions apiece!

When did you last google yourself? I can’t remember. I do check every few months if I am on Wikipedia’s radar. Sadly, not yet.

And which will be the most disruptive over the next ten years? As the data points coming from billions of connected devices grow exponentially, we will be able to leverage AI and big data to do incredible things that will change the way the economy works.

What was the last book you read for pleasure? The Master and His Emissary by Iain McGilchrist. What was the make and model of the first mobile phone you owned? An Ericsson car phone that weighed half a stone. It had beautiful chunky rubber keys. What was your favourite video game growing up? Age of Empires.

Is there such a thing as a work-life balance? There is. But there’s no such thing as having your cake and eating it. You have to make choices.

They’re making the biopic: who would play you? Kit Harington, who plays Jon Snow in Game of Thrones. My name in Portuguese translates to “Joe Snow”.

What’s the most overrated technology or technology trend? Wearables.

Is there a God? Yes, or this question would not have been formulated. As Pessoa said, “Not to have a God is already a God.”

10 Years

Which is the achievement you are most proud of? Building Farfetch to become a platform for businesses in 30 countries, with customers in 120, and ten offices around the world – while keeping a strong culture and making it a great place to work.

What’s the biggest downside to technology? It disconnects us from reality.

2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 ←

2011 2012 2013 2014 2015

Founders Forum


Human Networks


Trust, focus and a desire for a “no politics, no bullshit” ethos drive many start-up entrepreneurs into the arms of friends, family and ex-colleagues →

In many ways, May 2010 was the month that typified Marc, Oliver and Alexander Samwer’s business style. The previous December, the German brothers launched and invested in a service called CityDeal through their incubator Rocket Internet. CityDeal, a collective coupon-buying platform, was modelled on the market leader, Groupon. When Groupon came looking for a way to break into the European market, it chose CityDeal. To go from launch to sale in less than six months is how the Samwer brothers like it – fast, efficient and effective. Through Rocket Internet, they have launched over 75 different companies. They put their success down to hard work, business acumen, entrepreneurialism and brotherhood. It is that final characteristic that fascinates. If sibling networks are relatively rare, other kinds of human networks – the start-up alumni, friends and the ex-colleagues – are more common. The origin story of companies such as TransferWise and King feature peers working together, while – the retail success story of the UK’s late 1990s dot-com boom – has a lengthy list of alumni who have left their mark. “Our brotherhood and our family comes above everything else,” says Marc Samwer, the eldest of the three. Oliver is two years his junior, Alexander another two years younger. They knew from an early age that they wanted to go into business together. “Our parents would say to us, ‘Alone you are strong but together you are invincible.’” After a stint in San Francisco, the family returned to Germany and the brothers set up an online auction site in 1999. Soon after, they sold it to eBay. Other ventures followed before the creation of Rocket Internet in 2007. When the company floated in 2014, its valuation exceeded €6bn. Marc Samwer is in no doubt about the roots of the success. “If you talk to venture capitalists, they will tell you why up to 50 per cent of the start-ups they fund don’t work out. It’s not necessarily because the idea was bad or that the market wasn’t there. It’s because the team didn’t work out. “There’s nothing more distracting than internal disputes. A start-up has to be all about focus.” That is why a partnership of brothers works so well, he says. Yes, they argue, but the arguments are never personal and a consensus is always found. “For us, as brothers, there’s a ‘no politics, no bullshit’ ethos,” Samwer says. “Being brothers takes a lot of friction out of the founding team.”

Featuring Taavet Hinrikus Henry Lane Fox Marc Samwer Riccardo Zacconi

There are no other Samwer siblings hidden away – “There’s no black sheep in our family” – but if there was a fourth, he or she would have been forced to study computer science, says Samwer, “because although we are building tech companies, none of us knows how to code”.

10 Years


Rocket Internet

Henry Lane Fox falls into several human network camps: sibling, alumni and ex-colleague. First, his elder sister, Martha, invited him to become employee number three at “Family relationships got me into it by accident, I guess,” he says. That was in 1998. He left there following the company’s 2001 flotation, took a break and returned to set up and advise a series of dot-coms (“some of which were successful, some less so”). More recently, in 2012, his former mentor, Brent Hoberman, asked him to run the day-to-day operations of Founders Forum.

Founded by Marc, Oliver and Alexander Samwer Launched over 75 different companies Valuation was more than €6bn when the company floated in 2014 “Being brothers takes a lot of friction out of the founding team” Marc Samwer

Lane Fox cites Pete Flint, founder of the residential real estate service Trulia, and Lopo Champalimaud, founder of Wahanda, the Londonbased online beauty marketplace, as just two of the alumni who have gone on to big things. ↳

Rocket Internet shareholder structure (as of March 2015)





06 05


04 03

01. 02. 03. 04. 05. 06. 07. 08. 09.

Global Founders Kinnevik United Internet Baillie Gifford Philippine Long Distance  Telephone Company Access Industries  Holtzbrinck Ventures Further Cornerstone Investors Free Float

Founders Forum

p64/65 alumni

“Talent migrates around talent,” explains Lane Fox. “People got a flavour of success and understood what it took to start something and take it to the next level. People were confident enough in their own abilities, having done it once, to believe they could do it again.”

Pete Flint founded Trulia, the residential real estate service Stephen Uhrenbacher founded social networking and reviews site Qype Brent Hoberman went on to co-found and PROfounders Capital Lopo Champalimaud founded beauty marketplace Wahanda “People got a flavour of success and understood what it took to start something” Henry Lane Fox

For Lane Fox, this is one of the most important lessons from the Silicon Valley success story. Alumni networks that have emerged from the likes of Google and PayPal in the last two decades “form incredibly robust ecosystems on the ground”. It’s something Europe is only now starting to copy. Elsewhere, the peer-to-peer money transfer site TransferWise owes its beginnings to its two Estonian co-founders who had become frustrated by the cost of international money transfer. Kristo Käärmann, a financial consultant, was paid in pounds but needed euros to service his mortgage, while Taavet Hinrikus, director of strategy at Skype, was paid in euros but needed sterling. They came to a private arrangement. The idea turned into TransferWise. Hinrikus is clear why the human network matters, comparing creating a start-up to going to war. “It’s fast and intense. Because things are moving so fast, you never have perfect information, you always have to make assumptions and trust your gut feeling. And you have to trust other people to do the right things, because you don’t have the time to communicate every little detail. That builds close ties.” Riccardo Zacconi, co-founder of gaming company King adds: “When entrepreneurs sell up and start again, they want to start with all the best people from the previous company.” Prior to King, Zacconi had worked for the German arm of the Swedish web portal Spray and the dating site uDate. Backers of the latter, including Toby Rowland and Melvyn Morris, as well as ex-colleagues of the former, were persuaded to join Zacconi in his new venture. “You reduce your risk. You don’t start with many people so you want to make sure you start with the best.” Perhaps the downside of these human networks is that they close down opportunities for those on the outside. Instead of a meritocracy, the same elites prosper. Hinrikus doesn’t agree. “You always need more people,” he says. “As we get bigger, our ability to hire people straight from university is also greater, as we’re able to train them up.” “The success of TransferWise will be judged by where the people who work for it go next.”_

“Our brotherhood and family comes above everything else” Marc Samwer Co-founder, Rocket Internet

10 Years


Key Events


Neelie Kroes becomes European Union’s digital agenda commissioner


Natalia Vodianova hosts fundraising event “The Love Ball” in London


Xavier Niel and Jérémie Berrebi co-found Kima Ventures Brent Hoberman launches with Ning Li

UN holds climate change summit


ICQ, originally backed by Yossi Vardi, is bought by Swiss luxury goods maker Richemont acquires a majority of Net-a-Porter, valued at £350m


Groupon acquires Rocket-backed CityDeal in share deal Rachel Botsman delivers her talk “The Case for Collaborative Consumption” at TEDx Sydney


Rakuten lands in France with PriceMinister acquisition Lars Hinrichs launches HackFwd Ilkka Paananen co-founds Finnish games maker Supercell

WikiLeaks releases confidential documents relating to US involvement in the Afghanistan war


Ocado floats on the London Stock Exchange


Funding Circle launches in the UK Nick Halstead founds DataSift


ASOS expands to launch US, German and French websites Betfair floats in London, valued at £1.4bn

Individuals featured in this chapter


Yuri Milner’s Group floats for $5.6bn


Shazam announces its milestone of 100m users

Founders Forum

Lars Hinrichs



10 Years


Working with developers and coders is what Lars Hinrichs most enjoys. The founder of one of Europe’s most successful social media websites says that geeks are more willing to challenge the status quo and try things that nobody else has done before

Lars Hinrichs believes that the secret of success for tech entrepreneurs is to be a geek: successful tech companies such as Google and Facebook are run by developers. Companies such as Yahoo! and Myspace have not been so successful, he says, because they are run by media guys who are clueless when it comes to digital businesses. When things go wrong, they bring in consultants who know even less.

“In Europe, unlike in the US, most start-ups are founded by the businessmen, not the builders. This has never made sense to me, especially because it’s far easier to teach a geek about business than teach an MBA to code. The coders I know are brimming with great ideas – the key is to figure out the best way to help them unleash their potential.” Hinrichs, born in Hamburg, Germany, first became an internet geek in 1989. Aged 13, he acquired an acoustic coupler, which connected users online by converting electrical signals from a telephone line to sound and back again. This primitive system has long since given way to 600,000-times faster connections but it allowed him to experiment with the internet before it became cool. While still at school, he set up a consultancy to advise companies on how to get on the web. During his ten months of national service, he brought the German army online. “I was the first webmaster of the Bundeswehr and I saved them hundreds of thousands of euros. They were being completely ripped off by consultancies that charged them €3,500 to be listed on search engines, which takes just five minutes. I had really good fun and I even got a medal for it!” One day into his university studies in 1998, he set up a website on politics. “Political campaigning on the internet had begun in the 1996 US presidential election and I had always been fascinated by politics. So I launched and I still own it today – an online magazine and a consultancy for politics and the media which it has never paid a dividend.”

Career facts 2000: Founded Cinco Capital 2003: Founded XING 2010: Founded HackFwd 2015: Founded Apartimentum

In 2003, he founded XING, a website on which people, students and job-seekers could manage their contacts. The Canadian journalist Malcolm Gladwell had just published The Tipping Point, which identified people who use their contacts to make things change as “connectors”. Hinrichs wanted to find out who his second-degree contacts were and XING quickly became the largest business network in Germany and Austria. The company was taken public in 2006 in the most successful tech IPO in Germany and is now a unicorn (a start-up company whose valuation exceeds $1bn). But bored with management meetings, Hinrichs sold his XING stake in late 2009 to seek new challenges. ↳

Founders Forum


What’s next for the European tech scene?

“I missed interacting with the geeks. After eight years of 24/7 social networking, I didn’t know what was next, so I set off on a five-month round-the-world tour with my family.”

“More growth, new unicorns and the fourth generation of entrepreneurs keeping the global competition alive. Exciting times ahead!” – Lars Hinrichs

After his return, he switched from managing to mentoring, with the launch in 2010 of HackFwd, a pre-seed investment company to support the geeks he loved to work with. At the time, there were hardly any accelerators and he could also offer his large network of connections. He received over 3,000 applications, accepted just 16 and invested around €8m. Yet three years after opening for business, he announced that HackFwd was not accepting new start-ups. “I lost eight companies, sold two and two are stars –, which creates interactive graphics, and YieldKit, which helps websites earn money for their owners. But accelerators have been popping up all over and not even wanting equity, so the business is no longer sustainable. I am still in contact with most of the teams and it has been relatively successful compared to other accelerators.” His other investment arm is Cinco Capital, started in 2000 to take stakes in technology, financial services, telecommunications and media companies in Europe and North America. He says that there are five real successes in the portfolio. One is an occupational pensions specialist that works with large German insurers, while another is the biotech company Q-Milk which makes fabric out of milk. “When I started Cinco,” says Hinrichs, “I was running companies and I thought the grass looked greener sitting on boards. But it’s like taking a shower without getting wet, and I have inevitably become more involved with those five.” His latest project is Apartimentum, a Hamburg property development that will target mobile expats by renting out high-quality, well-equipped flats with optional hotel-style services. The first 20 apartments will be ready by December 2015 and the rest during 2016. “It is an attempt to reinvent the residential rental market which is largely unchanged in 70 years. What I’ve come up with is effectively a high-end part of the shared economy!” A perhaps unexpected role for an active entrepreneur is his membership of the supervisory board of Deutsche Telekom, one of Germany’s three largest companies. But Hinrichs says that he really enjoys it. “As the youngest board member in the entire German dax, I can see that the company is super-innovative. It’s the only European telecom which is growing, with an all-IP strategy that is creating a next-generation network.”

“What I’ve come up with is effectively a high-end part of the shared economy” Lars Hinrichs Founder, Cinco Capital

He has also played his part in trying to make Europe’s digital environment more competitive, as one of a team of entrepreneurs advising Neelie Kroes, vice-president of the European Commission. It drafted a start-up manifesto – which was signed by several founders at Founders Forum – covering finance, regulation, data privacy, data protection, skills and cross-border issues designed to support innovation. “If the European Commission would adopt everything we have suggested,” he says, “Europe would become a fantastic place for tech entrepreneurs.”_

10 Years


Yossi Vardi Internet Entrepreneur Vardi was the first investor in Mirabilis, the Israeli start-up that developed ICQ, the world’s first internetwide instant messaging service. ICQ was bought by AOL for $400m in 1998, less than two years after it was founded. Vardi’s entrepreneurial beginnings date back to 1969, when he co-founded TEKEM Advanced Technology, Israel’s largest software company. With more than 85 angel investments to his name, Vardi is not your conventional angel investor. As he told the BBC: “I’m mainly looking for talent… I don’t look for an idea, because ideas alone are overrated, and anyhow I won’t understand it. It’s from a demographic that I don’t belong to – I’m a digital immigrant and they are the natives.” Vardi’s success can be credited to this personal approach to investing, although he is quick to acknowledge his failed, as much as his successful, exits. What do you think Europe needs to change to become more competitive? “More power to the creative generation, more European role models, more tolerance of failure, more cultivation of the ecosystem, more founders-turnedangels seeding new start-ups. Less formality, hierarchy and authority in the hi-tech sector.” Natalia Vodianova Co-founder: Elbi Vodianova’s philanthropic ventures are rooted in her difficult childhood and a desire to ensure that other families do not have to go through the same hardships. Vodianova, who grew up in Russia with her mother and disabled sister, wrote in the Huffington Post that “disability and poverty often go hand in hand and I clearly felt it.” Now a successful supermodel, Vodianova uses her visibility to create awareness around issues of inequality and disability in Russia. She founded the Naked Heart Foundation in 2004 with a vision to provide safe spaces for disadvantaged children to play and to support families raising children with special needs. Since 2006, the foundation has built more than 140 play parks across Russia. Vodianova launched Elbi in 2015, a global platform and app that brings the power of social and digital worlds to charities and connects them with people around the world. With Elbi, everyone can do small actions that make a big difference. How can technology make a positive impact on people’s lives? “Most charities haven’t caught up with mobile habits – the percentage of charities with no mobile strategy equals the percentage of millennials that own a smartphone, according to the Give as You Live survey 2014. That being said, it is incredible that 83 per cent of millennials own a smartphone today, yet the tools and connectivity that we are benefiting from in our everyday lives are so underused in the charitable sector. We need a platform that will bring the power of social and digital worlds to charities, connecting them with people around the world – Elbi is a micro-philanthropy platform/app that makes doing good a part of your daily digital life.”

Founders Forum


Xavier Niel Founder: Iliad After starting his entrepreneurial career as the founder of an adult services site on Minitel, a precursor to the web popular in France, Niel’s break came when he invested in World-NET in 1995. France’s first consumer-focused internet service provider, it was sold for €40m in 2000. Niel went on to launch another ISP in 1999. Called Free, it was a subsidiary of Iliad – which he founded in 1990 – and it changed the French market by offering significantly cheaper packages than its competitors. In 2000, it became the first provider in France to offer broadband, phone and TV. Niel is also the founder of Kima Ventures, an early-stage investment company that invests in up to ten start-ups a month. How can technology make a positive impact on people’s lives? “‘My greatest point of pride is that last year we gave the French €2bn in purchasing power. Each French person, I gave €40 through my work’ – now it’s €7bn.”

Andrew Fisher Executive chairman: Shazam Fisher, who joined Shazam in 2005, is credited with taking the company from a struggling start-up to the successful business it is today, with more than 750 million users. Initially marketed as a music identification app, Shazam has become a content platform, with its audiences now able to “Shazam” everything from print and television to advertising collateral – including Shazamable content inside this book. After a challenging start, Shazam built its audience in North America and Europe before expanding across the globe. The company is valued today at over £650m. In recognition of Fisher’s central role in the European tech scene, the British Interactive Media Association inducted him into its Hall of Fame in 2015, putting him in the company of other pioneers such as Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Martha Lane Fox. What excites you most about Europe? “Europe is exploding with entrepreneurial talent and those experiencing success are increasingly investing their financial and intellectual capital to support others. This is helping Europe rapidly mature and develop as an epicentre for entrepreneurs who are now building disruptive global businesses at a far greater pace than we have ever seen before.”

10 Years


Nick Robertson Founder and former CEO: ASOS Originally conceived by co-founder Nick Robertson as an online platform for users to purchase items seen on their favourite TV shows, AsSeenOnScreen evolved to become ASOS, a fully fledged online fashion outlet, expanding in 2004 to include its own label. Robertson still has ambitions for the UK-based fashion giant, which ships to 240 countries around the world and now has international offices in Australia, the US, France and Germany. He told the Business of Fashion, “We want to be as synonymous to fashion for twentysomethings as Google is to search and Facebook is to social media.” Stepping down as CEO in September 2015, Robertson remained on as non-executive chairman. What excites you most about Europe? “Some European countries have real style and much fashion is driven from Europe. For ASOS, Europe is a relatively untapped market. We have had huge success in France and Germany, demonstrating that online works in those countries, and in time others across Europe will develop. So what excites me is the opportunity we have.”

Pierre Kosciusko-Morizet Founder and former president: PriceMinister While working in the US for the online credit card company Finance Capital One, Kosciusko-Morizet saw a gap in France’s ecommerce market. France had no internet companies that provided a link between buyers and sellers in the early 2000s, unlike the US. Kosciusko-Morizet left Finance Capital One, moved back to France and launched PriceMinister in 2001. PriceMinister grew over the next nine years to become the leading ecommerce company in France. In 2010, it was bought by Rakuten – Japan’s biggest ecommerce site – for $250m. After the sale, Kosciusko-Morizet stayed on as president of PriceMinister and CEO of Rakuten Europe until 2014. What excites you most about Europe? “It is at the beginning of a great era. It used to suffer from specific ‘country by country’ rules that prevented European businesses from scaling quickly. But start-ups are more and more directly global, so you now have more and more entrepreneurs building global successful start-ups, from Europe.”


Yuri Milner

Founders Forum



“My first mobile phone was a Motorola. It was small enough to fit into a suitcase”

The founder of Group and DST Global on investing in big ideas ↓

In 2012 Yuri and Julia Milner, together with Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki, Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, and Jack Ma and Cathy Zhang launched the Breakthrough Prizes – the largest scientific awards in the world, honouring achievements in fundamental physics, life sciences and mathematics. In a tweet, describe what you do. I try to invest in big ideas and people with the talent to pursue them. Who had the biggest influence in your career? Albert Einstein.

Elon Musk says artificial intelligence is probably our “biggest existential threat”. Do you agree or disagree? Disagree. Not only is it not the biggest existential threat, but it’s no threat at all. Is there such a thing as a work-life balance? No. What’s the most frustrating aspect of being an entrepreneur operating in Europe? Operating only in Europe. What’s your favourite app? SETI@home – it leverages the power of distributed computing to analyse astronomical data for evidence of extraterrestrial intelligent life. Printed book or ebook? ebook. Your Wikipedia entry: fact or fiction? Factual, the last time I checked it.

What is the biggest mistake you’ve made in your career? Early in my career, I did not dream big enough.

What was the last book you read for pleasure? Deep Future: The Next 100,000 Years of Life on Earth, by Curt Stager.

Can we have five words of advice for the next generation of digital and technology entrepreneurs? Dream big and stay focused.

What was the make and model of the first mobile phone you owned? Motorola. It was small enough to fit in a suitcase.

If there was no internet, what would you have done? Asked my friends at Cern to invent it.

What was your favourite video game growing up? Chess.

Which digital technology/digital trend has been the most disruptive over the past ten years? Mobile.

When you can’t sleep at night, what do you do? Read.

And which will be the most disruptive over the next ten years? Big data.

10 Years

About Yuri Milner Yuri Milner founded Group in 1999 and under his leadership it became one of Europe’s foremost internet companies. He took it public in 2010 and founded DST Global to focus on global internet investments. DST Global boasts a portfolio that includes some of the world's most prominent tech giants: Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Airbnb, Spotify, Alibaba and others.

10 Years


Since its launch in 2006, Founders Forum has become the pre-eminent network of digital innovators, hosting events from London to New York, Rio to Mumbai, Los Angeles to Singapore, Istanbul to New Delhi. At each forum, the world’s most ambitious digital entrepreneurs brainstorm and network with inspiring CEOs, influential investors and industry thought leaders

Shazam here for video content

Founders Forum


↵ Welcome Dinner at The Painted Hall, Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich, Founders Forum, London 2014

↑ Mohammad Al-Ubaydli: Patients Know Best, Daniel Kraft: Singularity University/ Exponential Medicine, Andrew Thompson: Proteus Digital Health, Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP: Secretary of State for Health, Founders Forum London 2013 ← Esther Perel: Psychotherapist and author, Founders Forum New York 2014 → Eric Schmidt: Google, Founders Forum London 2014

10 Years

In Pictures

Founders Forum


10 Years

↑ Internet of Things panel, Hermann Hauser KBE: Amadeus Capital Partners, Stan Boland: Neul, Martín Varsavsky: Fon, Joep van Beurden: CSR, Olaf Swantee: EE, Vittorio Colao: Vodafone, Demis Hassabis: Google DeepMind, Founders Forum London 2014 ← Ana Botín: Santander, CEO Breakfast, Founders Forum London 2015 → Martha Lane Fox: Go On UK, Sherry Coutu: Founders4Schools/ investor, Rosemary Leith: Web Foundation, Windsor Castle Welcome Dinner, Founders Forum London 2014

In Pictures

Founders Forum

↑ Dr Mike Lynch: Autonomy/Invoke Capital, Founders Forum For Good, Big Data for Big Impact Oxford 2013


10 Years

↑ Leila Janah: Sama Group, Founders Forum London 2013

In Pictures

Founders Forum


Only at Founders Forum During a competitive brainstorm at Founders Forum London 2012, attendees were asked to devise a video to promote Code Club, the free after school activity that teaches children to code. The winning pitch was filmed and uploaded on the same day. Featuring Sir Tim Berners-Lee, YouTube founder Chad Hurley, Prince Andrew and others. It generated nearly half a million views in 24 hours and encouraged 300 volunteers and 50 schools to sign up

10 Years

← Ed Wray: Betfair, with Code Club, Founders Forum London 2012 ↙ Future of TV panel, Neeraj Roy: Hungama, Tim Davie: BBC Worldwide, Shahrzad Rafati: BroadbandTV, Dr Mike Lynch: Invoke, Andrew Fisher: Shazam, Chad Hurley: YouTube, Founders Forum London 2014 → Jamie Kantrowitz: Gobbler, TIFIN-LA 2013

↳ Rand Hindi: Snips (NASDAQ Founders Forum New York Rising Star 2015 winner), with Founders Forum team and guests. Closing Bell ceremony hosted by NASDAQ

In Pictures

Founders Forum


10 Years

In Pictures

Founders Forum


← Winfield House Welcome Dinner, Founders Forum London 2015 → Brent Hoberman: Founders Forum, Jonathan Goodwin: Founders Forum, Arianna Huffington: Huffington Post, Founders Forum New York City 2012 ↙ Lily Cole: Impossible, Sir Jonathan Ive: Apple, Founders Forum/GREAT’s co-hosted Creative Industries Party during the London Summer Olympics 2012 ↘ Emeli Sandé: singer, Lucian Grainge’s home, TIFIN- LA 2013

10 Years

Only at Founders Forum On the morning
 of Founders Forum 2012, Poppy makes Brent and Jonnie go horse riding, jog in suits and fluorescent sweat bands, ride a tandem and pedalo on the Serpentine. Why? To record the introduction to the Founders Forum For Good film to be shown the following evening, of course

In Pictures

Founders Forum


← Matthew Barzun: US Ambassador to the UK, Sir Howard Stringer: Ex-Sony, Founders Forum London 2014 → Aeromobil flying car demo, Founders Forum London 2015 ↓ Founders Forum/ Pictet Ski Trip, St Moritz 2015

Only at Founders Forum John Hunt wins the slalom ski challenge and Hermann Hauser hosts an impromptu 'After' After Party thanks to Pictet’s generous ski trip in January 2015

10 Years

In Pictures

Only at Founders Forum Shot in a day and a half and shown on the main evening of Founders Forum London 2013, the “And Me” Founders Forum For Good film features around seventy entrepreneurs and corporates including Sir Richard Branson, Peter Gabriel, Thomas Heatherwick and Ashton Kutcher

↑ Founders Forum For Good panel, Peter Gabriel: Real World, Martha Lane Fox: Go On UK, Sir Richard Branson: Virgin Group, Strive Masiyiwa: Econet Wireless, Founders Forum London 2013 ← Royal Marines Band Service, Windsor Castle Welcome Dinner, Founders Forum London 2013 → Dr Charles Robert Saumarez Smith CBE: Royal Academy of Arts, Her Royal Highness Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Jonathan Goodwin: Founders Forum, Rt Hon David Cameron MP, Creative Industries Party, London 2012

Founders Forum


Founders Forum at Ten Years – The Journey So Far, by Natalka Design, 2015

10 Years In Pictures

Founders Forum


← Welcome Dinner, Santa Teresa Hotel, Founders Forum Rio 2013 → José Neves: Farfetch, Brent Hoberman: Founders Forum, Founders Forum Rio 2013

← Sir Charles Dunstone: Carphone Warehouse Group, CEO Breakfast, Founders Forum London 2015 → Artist as Entrepreneur brainstorm, Liev Schreiber: Van’s General Store/actor/ producer/director, Vikram Gandhi: Vice/ producer/director, Chase Jarvis: CreativeLive, Founders Forum New York 2015

10 Years

Only at Founders Forum Rio’s worst thunder storm in 20 years threatens to wash out Founders Forum Rio 2013 – but Founders Forum triumphs

Only at Founders Forum Group brainstorm at Founders Forum New York 2015: develop a brand or product for a well-known personality. The winning idea: “Kanye Eats” – social media platform following what Kanye West has for breakfast, because (and we quote the pitcher) “breakfast hasn't been disrupted yet”...

In Pictures

Founders Forum


Only at Founders Forum Group brainstorm at Founders Forum London 2013: to create a cult. The session is led by Vikram Gandhi, director and star of the awardwinning documentary “Kumare� in which he plays a wise but fake guru, and by Reverend Nicky Gumbel, Anglican priest, author and creator of the Alpha course, a basic introduction to Christianity

10 Years

↖ Future of Media panel, John Johnson: Buzzfeed/ Harmony Institute, Mark Thompson: The New York Times, Sir Howard Stringer: Ex-Sony, Founders Forum New York 2014 ← John Donahoe: eBay, Founders Forum New York 2013 ↗ Future of Smart Cities brainstorm, Founders Forum London 2014 → Efe Cakarel: Mubi, Ashton Kutcher: A-Grade Investments/ actor, Rob Hersov. Founders Forum London 2013

In Pictures

Founders Forum


10 Years

← Jonathan Goodwin: Founders Forum, His Royal Highness The Duke of York KG, Windsor Castle Welcome Dinner, Founders Forum London 2013 → Dina Radenkovic: Watch Out Diabetes, F Factor: Founders Forum London 2015

← Jeffrey Katzenberg: DreamWorks Animation, John Landgraf: FX Networks, Michael Lynton: Sony Entertainment Inc, Ari Emanuel: WME, Lucian Grainge CBE: Universal Music Group, TIFIN–LA 2013 → Group Brainstorm, Founders Forum Rio 2013

In Pictures

Founders Forum

↑ Nick Rhodes: Levels Beyond/ Duran Duran, Demo Room, Founders Forum London 2013


10 Years

↑ Rosemary Leith: Web Foundation, Sir Tim Berners-Lee: World Wide Web/ Web Foundation, Hermann Hauser KBE: Amadeus Capital Partners, Warner Bros Studios, Harry Potter Welcome Dinner, Founders Forum London 2012

In Pictures

Founders Forum


Shazam here for video content World Wide What? Created to celebrate ten years of Founders Forum. Filmed in six cities across the world supported by YouTube and King. Created and produced by Poppy Gaye, Adam Townsend (freuds), Declan Masterson and Andrew Trace, June 2015

On Her Founder's Secret Service Featuring Jason Gissing as 007, Dame Tessa Jowell as ‘M’ and Jimmy Wales as the CIA Assassin. Filmed in secret on the day of Founders Forum, edited and shown that same evening. Created and produced by Poppy Gaye and Magma Pictures, June 2011

And Me Introduction to the Founders Forum for Good Foundation. Filmed on the day of Founders Forum, edited and shown that same evening. Over 70 guests featured, including Peter Gabriel harmonising with Yonca Brunini, Nick Hungerford and Marc Samwer. Created and produced by Poppy Gaye and Mother London, June 2013 Code Club: The Interview Viral pitch idea brainstormed by Founders Forum guests, filmed on the same day and uploaded that evening. Created and produced by Founders Forum guests and
Albion, June 2012

10 Years

↑ Digital Media Panel, Jason Kilar: Hulu, Jason Titus: Shazam, Jared Leto: actor/investor, Rob Wells: Universal Music Group, Daniel Ek: Spotify, TIFIN–LA 2013 → Reid Hoffman: LinkedIn, CEO Breakfast, Founders Forum London 2015 ← A selection of videos produced for Founders Forum

In Pictures

Founders Forum


10 Years

In Pictures

� Katherine Ryder: Maven, Alexandra Chong: Lulu, Leila Janah: Sama Group, Founders Forum New York City 2014

Founders Forum


↑ Closing dinner, ACME, Founders Forum New York 2014 ← Navneet Singh and Aadhar Agarwal:, Founders Forum Mumbai 2012 ↙ Founders Forum Rio hosts. Brent Hoberman: Founders Forum, Romero Rodrigues: Buscapé, Alec Oxenford: OLX, Founders Forum Rio 2013 ↗ Brent Hoberman: Founders Forum New York 2014

10 Years

Only at Founders Forum The day before a Founders Forum dinner at Windsor Castle, Brent asks the FF team to make a change to the menu – instead of new potatoes he wants Five Guys chips for 400 guests. Suffice to say, new potatoes prevailed

In Pictures

10 Years of


Founders Forum hand-picks a selection of the most disruptive technology companies to present at its events: businesses with the potential to re-invent sectors and become the next global success stories. Here are some of the companies we have chosen as Rising Stars since the inaugural group was featured in 2009

Shazam here for video content

Founders Forum

p110/111 Presented by Richard Price Founder and CEO

Babylon Health Presented by Dr Ali Parsa Founder and CEO

Beleza Natural Presented by Leila Velez Co-founder and CEO

A platform for academics to share research papers, with a mission to accelerate the world’s research

An integrated digital healthcare system combining the latest advances in technology with modern medicine

A progressive hair treatment used to mildly relax curls, with a product line and factory to produce products

Over 26 million academics have signed up to, adding nearly seven million papers and two million research interests attracts over 36 million unique visitors a month Presented at Founders Forum London 2013

↓ Richard Price

“Set to revolutionise healthcare and eradicate waiting lists for subscribers.” – The Telegraph Based in London, founded in 2013 Presented at Founders Forum London 2013

Founded in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Twenty nine salons in five Brazilian states, including a factory of its own. In 2013 sold 33 per cent to GP Investments for $32m Presented at Founders Forum Rio 2012 and Founders Forum London 2012

↓ Dr Ali Parsa Babylon Health

10 Years

Rising Stars

Boxee Presented by Avner Ronen Co-founder and CEO

CallVU Presented by Ziv Orr Co-founder

ClassPass Presented by Payal Kadakia Co-founder and CEO

A cross-platform freeware HTPC software application with social networking features, designed for the living-room TV

A developer of a visual solution for call centres

A membership programme for fitness classes across multiple gyms and studios

Founded in Tel Aviv in 2008 Acquired by Samsung for $30m in 2013 Presented at Founders Forum London 2010

The winner of several awards including innovation awards from Citibank and MasterCard in 2013 and Credit-Suisse FinTech award in 2014 Granted US patent in 2015 entitling it to exclusive rights as pioneer of Visual IVR technologies Presented at Founders Forum New York 2014

↓ Leila Velez Beleza Natural

↓ Payal Kadakia ClassPass

Since launch in 2013, ClassPass has facilitated over 1,500,000 reservations at different classes in over 20 markets around the US Raised $54m from investors including General Catalyst, Thrive Capital, Fritz Lanman and Hank Vigil Presented at Founders Forum New York 2015

Founders Forum


↑ Demis Hassabis DeepMind

DeepMind Presented by Demis Hassabis Co-founder and CEO

Dubsmash Presented by Roland Grenke Co-founder

Dynamo Magician

An artificial intelligence company

The pitch: Say it with video! Choose your favourite sound, record yourself on Dubsmash and send it to your friends

An English magician, best known for his show “Dynamo: Magician Impossible”

Founded in London in 2011 Acquired in January 2014 by Google for a reported $500m Presented at Founders Forum New York 2013 while still in stealth mode

Raised $5.9m from investors including Index Ventures, Hasso Plattner Ventures, Riccardo Zacconi and Lowercase Capital The app has been downloaded more than 50 million times across iOS and Android Presented at Founders Forum London 2015

Born Steven Frayne, he was bullied as a child so one of his first tricks was to make it seem as if he was very heavy, to prevent other children from throwing him around He has appeared in ads for Adidas, Nokia and Pepsi and on the catwalk for Naomi Campbell’s Fashion for Relief and on TV (including on ESPN, Comic Relief and The Apprentice) Presented at TIFIN-LA 2013

10 Years

Rising Stars

↑ Roland Grenke Dubsmash

↑ Dynamo Magician

Funding Circle Presented by Samir Desai Co-founder and CEO Presented by Herman Narula Founder and CEO

InMobi Presented by Naveen Tewari Co-founder and CEO

The world’s leading online marketplace for business loans, matching businesses who want to borrow with investors

A developer of operating environments that make building simulated worlds possible

A mobile-first platform allowing brands, developers and publishers to engage consumers through mobile advertising

Founded in London in 2010 Raised $273m from investors including BlackRock, DST Global, Temasek Holdings, Accel Partners, Index Ventures, Ribbit Capital and Union Square Ventures Presented at Founders Forum London 2014

Raised $221m in 2015 from Andreessen Horowitz Founded in 2012 by hyperkinetic computer scientists Herman Narula and Rob Whitehead while at the University of Cambridge Presented at Founders Forum London 2015

Raised $221m from investors including SoftBank and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Valuation of $2.5bn Five acquisitions: Sprout,, MMTG Labs, Metaflow Solutions and Overlay Media Presented at Founders Forum New Delhi 2011

Founders Forum


Juicero Presented by Doug Evans Founder and CEO

Masabi Presented by Ben Whitaker Co-founder and CEO

OMsignal Presented by Stephane Marceau Co-founder and CEO

Founded in San Francisco

A developer of mobile ticketing technology for the transport sector, enabling passengers to buy and display tickets on mobile phones

A manufacturer of bio-sensing clothing that connects to iPhones and iPads in real time

$89.9m raised from investors including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Thrive Capital Won the NASDAQ Rising Star 2015 Award at Founders Forum London Presented at Founders Forum London 2015 while still in stealth mode

↓ Doug Evans Juicero

Raised $8.8m from investors m8 Capital, MMC Ventures and Frontinalis Partners

Raised $14.5m from investors including Bessemer Venture Partners, David Cohen, Golden Venture Partners and Mistral Venture Partners

Announced global partnership with MasterCard in January 2015, integrating MasterPass, MasterCard’s secure digital payment service, into Masabi’s JustRide

Met David Lauren (CMO, Ralph Lauren) after presenting at Founders Forum New York and subsequently launched Ralph Lauren’s first wearable tech product – the PoloTechTM Shirt

Presented at Founders Forum London 2010

Presented at Founders Forum New York 2013

↓ Stephane Marceau OMsignal

10 Years

Rising Stars

Onefootball Presented by Lucas von Cranach Founder

Paperless Post Presented by Alexa Hirschfeld Co-founder

PillPack Presented by TJ Parker Co-founder and CEO

The leading global online football community

An ecommerce company selling personalised online and printed cards, invitations, and announcements

A service that fills, sorts, and delivers all your medication in personalised packets

Connects over 20 million football fans in over 200 countries in 16 languages Raised $20m from investors including Early Bird Venture Capital and Union Square Ventures

Raised $32m from investors including August Capital, Drape Associates, SV Angel, RRE Ventures, Ram Shriram and Mousse Partners Founded in New York in 2009

Presented at Founders Forum London 2013

↓ Alexa Hirschfeld Paperless Post

Presented at Founders Forum New York City 2012 and Founders Forum London 2012

↓ TJ Parker PillPack

Raised $63m to date from investors including Atlas Ventures, Founder Collective, Accel Partners, CRV, Menlo Ventures and Sherpa Capital Parker, the son of a pharmacist, was featured in 2015’s Forbes 30 Under 30 list of young innovators Presented at Founders Forum New York 2014

Founders Forum


↑ Kristian Segerstrale Playfish

Playfish Presented by Kristian Segerstrale Co-founder and CEO

Premise Presented by David Soloff Co-founder

Proteus Digital Health Presented by Andrew Thompson Co-founder and CEO

Developer of free-to-play social games over platforms including Facebook and MySpace

Indexes and analyses millions of observations captured daily by their global network of contributors, unearthing connections that impact global decisions

A digital medicines company that focuses on developing products, services and data systems based on integrating medicines with ingestible, wearable, mobile and cloud computing

Founded in 2007 Acquired by Electronic Arts for $300m in 2009 Presented at Founders Forum London 2009

Founded in 2013 by David Soloff and Joe Reisinger In September 2015, announced $50m funding round led by SpaceX and Tesla investor Valor Equity Partners. Previous investor Social+Capital is also participating in the round, bringing Premise’s total funding to $67m Presented at Founders Forum Singapore 2015 and Founders Forum London 2015

Raised $309m from investors including Asset Management Ventures, Yuan Capital, Silicon Valley Bank and Oxford Finance Corporation Thompson demonstrated the company’s technology by swallowing a pill onstage and showing his live internal data on-screen Presented at Founders Forum London 2013

10 Years

Rising Stars

↑ Evan Davis and Andrew Thompson BBC/Newsnight and Proteus Digital Health

Rovio Entertainment Presented by Mikael Hed Chairman Animation Studios

SecondMarket Presented by Barry Silbert Founder

Shazam Presented by Andrew Fisher Then CEO (now executive chairman)

An entertainment media company that develops, publishes and distributes video games, including Angry Birds

Enabling private companies and investment funds to customise, control and seamlessly execute primary and secondary transactions

A music and TV recognition and discovery app

Raised $76m from investors including Accel Partners, Atomico, Felicis Ventures and European Investment Bank

Over $2.5bn in transactions closed since 2013

Launched 12 games under the Angry Birds brand and following success in mobile gaming, Angry Birds has expanded rapidly to become an international brand

Raised $34m from investors including FirstMark
Capital, The Social+Capital Partnership, Li Ka-shing Foundation, Temasek Holdings, New Enterprise Associates and Silicon Valley Bank. Acquired by NASDAQ in October 2015

Presented at Founders Forum London 2011

Presented at Founders Forum London 2010

Raised $15m from investors Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, DN Capital and Institutional Venture Partners By 2015, Shazam had over 120 million monthly unique users, 500 million users and 12 billion tags Presented at Founders Forum London 2009

Founders Forum


Snips Presented by Dr Rand Hindi Founder and CEO

Supercell Presented by Ilkka Paananen Co-founder and CEO

TweetDeck Presented by Iain Dodsworth Founder and CEO

The pitch: making technology disappear. Snips sets to achieve this by embedding an artificial intelligence in every connected device. Whether it is a smartphone or a home appliance, they will one day be able to anticipate their owner’s intentions

A mobile games developer for tablets and smartphones

A real-time tracking, organising and engagement platform for Twitter

Raised $6.3m in a seed round in June 2015, led by The Hive, with participation from Eniac Ventures, 500 startups, Brent Hoberman, Xavier Niel and Bpifrance Founded in Paris in 2013 Presented at Founders Forum New York 2015, where he won the NASDAQ Rising Star of Year, New York edition

↓ Dr Rand Hindi Snips

Raised $142m from investors including Accel Partners and London Venture Partners

Raised $3.5m from investors including betaworks and PROfounders Capital

SoftBank and GungHo acquired a 51 per cent stake in October 2013 for $1.53bn

Acquired by Twitter for $40m in 2011

Presented at Founders Forum London 2013

Presented at Founders Forum London 2009

10 Years

Rising Stars

uBeam Presented by Meredith Perry Founder and CEO

Viki Presented by Razmig Hovaghimian Co-founder and CEO

A wireless power start-up that transmits power over the air to charge electronic devices

A global TV site powered by fans that streams premium content translated in over 200 languages

Raised $13m from investors including Upfront Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, Founders Fund, CrunchFund, Ellen Levy, Ludlow Ventures, Marissa Mayer, Mark Cuban, Shawn Fanning, Three Six Zero Group, Tony Hsieh and Troy Carter Mark Cuban calls it a “zillion-dollar idea”. He invested without ever seeing a prototype Presented at Founders Forum London 2013* *p109 Meredith Perry, uBeam

↓ Ilkka Paananen and Brent Hoberman Supercell and Founders Forum

Founded in 2007, its headquarters are now in San Francisco Acquired by Rakuten for $200m in 2013 Presented at Founders Forum New Delhi in 2011

2006 2007 2008 2009 2010

2011 ← 2012 2013 2014 2015

Founders Forum


Sharing Economy


A generational shift in attitudes to ownership is driving growth in collaborative consumption. Pioneers are creating value from underused assets and transforming old business models →

“Welcome to BlaBlaCar!” read the press release that landed in the inboxes of UK business and technology journalists in May 2011. Few in Britain had heard of BlaBlaCar back then, not least because it still operated in its native France under the name Covoiturage (translation: carpooling). Originally launched in 2006 by Frédéric Mazzella with Nicolas Brusson and Francis Nappez, the company had a simple, if wordy, consumer proposition: “Connecting people who need to travel with drivers who have empty seats.” BlaBlaCar now has 20 million members in 19 countries and promotes over two million future trips at any one time. It claims an aggregate CO2 emissions saving of one million tonnes as a result of carpooling. The average occupancy of a BlaBlaCar is 2.8 people, compared with a general average of 1.6. In September 2015 the company announced it had raised $200m in an investment round led by Insight and Venture Partners. It brought the company’s valuation up to £1.5bn and marked out BlaBlaCar as one of the most significant emerging tech companies in Europe. The year before BlaBlaCar’s UK debut, Rachel Botsman took to the stage at the TEDx conference in Sydney, Australia, to make the case for “collaborative consumption”. Together with a book she co-wrote – What’s Mine Is Yours: How Collaborative Consumption Is Changing the Way We Live – it was an attempt to articulate a noticeable shift away from firms and institutions to marketplaces and networks of individuals. The sharing economy is a subset of Botsman’s collaborative consumption. She cited the likes of Love Home Swap, and JustPark as examples of the form. JustPark, a London-based platform matching drivers with parking spaces, has more recently partnered with BMW to integrate its app into car dashboards. Initially, Botsman says, collaborative consumption was framed by the press as a reaction to the financial crisis, a way to make and save money. No one was looking at it as a transformational business model. “People were missing the fact that these companies were thinking about the value of assets and people in a completely different way.” There is, she says, a generational shift in attitudes to ownership, in which millennials don’t need to hoard books, CDs and DVDs. “They see the smartphone as their remote control to the physical world.”

Featuring Rachel Botsman Danny Rimer

What then are the key ingredients of the sharing economy? “You have to take an underused asset that has ‘idling capacity’,” explains Botsman. “The asset can be anything from space to skills to stuff to capital. You then make it available within a network or marketplace in a way that matches a need with a have.” In her TEDx talk, she pointed out that a power drill will be used for just 12 to 13 minutes in its entire lifespan, while a car costs AUS$8,000 a year to run but sits unused for 23 hours a day.

10 Years


“We have a more transient relationship with the things that were a fixed part of our parents’ lives” Rachel Botsman Author and consultant

Caring is sharing The sharing economy makes use of an underused asset A power drill is used for just 12 to 13 minutes in its entire lifespan A car sits unused 23 hours a day Sharers make an average €2,500 a year in supplementary income

BlaBlaCar fits the sharing economy model well. “We know that 80 per cent of journeys taken in urban areas are solo rides. The spare seats are packed with idling capacity,” she says. It’s about the driver offsetting the cost of the journey rather than making a profit. It’s also about the social experience of the journey itself. “People talk about feeding the social self, the side that seeks connection and belonging.” Index Ventures’ Danny Rimer agrees. “The drivers and the passengers are very committed to making BlaBlaCar a vibrant community. And that’s unusual.” Rimer believes such an idea – quintessentially European, perhaps – wouldn’t work in the United States. “America is way too spread out,” he says. By contrast, mainland Europe not only has an excellent road network, many Europeans are already conditioned to travelling long distances by car. Today the sharing economy is thriving. Research by ING, carried out in 2015, suggests that sharers make an average of €2,500 a year to supplement their incomes while 150 million consumers across Europe will soon be pooling property and possessions. PwC splits the sharing economy into five sectors – peer-to-peer lending and crowd-funding; online staffing; peer-to-peer accommodation; car sharing; and music and video streaming – and estimates that together they generate $15bn globally today and $335bn by 2025. Two US-originated sharing services – Uber and Airbnb – have become lightening conductors for controversy more recently, attacked for unfairly undermining incumbent businesses and failing to protect employee rights. On the campaign trail in July 2015, American presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton said that the “gig economy… raises hard questions about work protections.” Botsman believes these types of concerns are overplayed. Regulation has its place – to ensure that those who work for these services earn the living wage, for example – but believes critics are guilty of “trying to fit new behaviours into old paradigms”. It’s not about conventional jobs, she argues, but about the micro entrepreneur “empowered to make money from an asset they have”. She says 10,000 Airbnb hosts have used their rental income to start a business. “I hate these arguments that it’s bad for jobs and it’s bad for the worker. It’s just not that binary. Many providers on the platforms don’t want or can’t be in traditional employment contracts.” Returning to terminology she says its understandable some services are “getting beaten up in the press because the behaviour often isn’t sharing… it’s buying, it’s renting, it’s leasing. It’s oldfashioned selling.” Back in France, another sharing economy start-up is showing signs of success. The Food Assembly matches farmers and growers with ↳

Founders Forum


communities of buyers. The former promote available produce to the latter through a “leader” who co-ordinates the logistics. It’s a pre-order service that bypasses the supermarkets, guaranteeing revenues for the farmers and fresh produce for the buyers. Food Assembly services now operate in Belgium, Germany, Spain and the UK, as well as France. Botsman is a fan, noting how the service reimagines the connection between farmers and consumers and makes use of underused collection points. The opportunities for would-be sharing economy entrepreneurs may be finite, but the list of things people are willing to share is surprisingly long. In an effort to test the boundaries of the market, Botsman said she was amazed to discover the pet sharing service BorrowMyDoggy. “The speed at which we form relationships and trust means we have a far more transient relationship to the things that were a very fixed part of our parents’ lives.”_

Projected revenue growth for the sharing economy vs traditional rental sectors

Sharing economy sectors $15bn

Traditional rental sectors $240bn



Traditional rental sectors $335bn

Source: PwC, 2015

Sharing economy sectors $335bn

10 Years


“Members are very committed to making BlaBlaCar a vibrant community� Danny Rimer Partner, Index Ventures

Founders Forum


Key Events

2011 Oil prices rise by 20 per cent in two weeks due to instability in Libya


Taavet Hinrikus co-founds TransferWise with Kristo Käärmann


Founders Forum launches its first international event in New Delhi, India


AOL acquires the Huffington Post for $315m


Niklas Östberg founds Delivery Hero Mumsnet founder Justine Roberts launches Gransnet Yandex raises $1.3bn with IPO on the US NASDAQ Microsoft acquires Skype for $8.5bn


Frédéric Mazzella launches BlaBlaCar in the UK

Worldwide stock exchanges suffer heavy losses due to the Eurozone crisis


US company InterActiveCorp acquires 78 per cent stake in Meetic

Occupy Wall Street protests begin in the US



Azmat Yusuf founds Citymapper Hewlett-Packard buys Autonomy for $11.7bn

Curiosity, the Mars Science Laboratory rover, is launched

Individuals featured in this chapter


Nick Halstead’s DataSift goes live


Steve Case launches $450m Revolution Growth fund with co-founders

10 Years


Niklas Östberg Co-founder: Delivery Hero Co-founded by Östberg in Berlin in 2011, Delivery Hero is now the biggest global food network, boasting more than 200,000 participating restaurants and ten million orders a month. Östberg credits much of Delivery Hero’s success to its focus on mobile. As he told Wired, “When we started we were quite far behind our competitors, but they weren’t adapting fast enough to mobile… They still haven’t.” Valued in June 2015 at $3.1bn, Östberg plans to continue the expansion of Delivery Hero with “considered” acquisition, a strategy that has helped the company expand into 34 countries so far. Why would you invest in Europe now? “There are some amazing European companies that are about to transform their industries. Just look at the Berlin-based ones: SoundCloud, ResearchGate, Zalando or Delivery Hero. The last one is obviously my personal favourite as we constantly push boundaries to dramatically change and improve an inefficient industry. On average people spend about three years of their lives cooking and cleaning up afterwards, and yet only 20 per cent call this ‘quality’ time. As we are now enabling 29 minute delivery of good-quality food via our Foodora brand, we have taken a big step towards drastic industry transformation. How could anyone not be hungry for investing in Europe?”

Azmat Yusuf Founder and CEO: Citymapper Citymapper has a mission: to “make cities easier to use.” It began when Yusuf moved to London and was left bewildered by the city’s complex transport system. Using real-time data available from transport companies, Citymapper is able to accurately predict the time it will take to travel from A to B, suggesting a variety of different options and including updates such as delays and cancellations. Users appear to love its utility. “Reliable, quick, accurate and easy to use” and “Absolute gold… The developers deserve a knighthood for this” are just two examples of the gushing reviews. The app was also one of the first to be available on Apple Watch and Android Wear, ushering in the wearable era. Investors love it because it’s an app users return to daily. “Unlike the vast majority of apps, Citymapper is an app that people use every day and have on their ‘home’ screen,” Robin Klein of Index Ventures told Techworld. What excites you most about Europe? “We [at Citymapper] care about cities, not continents. Mobile and the internet transcend political boundaries. It’s great that we can build global tech companies anywhere.”

Founders Forum


Steve Case

THE DAWN OF A NEW ERA OF DIGITAL DISRUPTION The internet is on the brink of a third wave that will revolutionise some of the world’s largest industries, says Steve Case, co-founder of America Online (AOL) – broadening the digital economy to new cities and regions in the US and abroad →

Steve Case divides the history of the internet into three waves. The first began three decades ago when companies like AOL built the infrastructure, connections and awareness that created a connected world. The second wave was built on top of the internet, with small teams creating new ways such as apps to access information and communicate with other people through companies like Facebook and Twitter. The third wave will integrate the internet into everyday life in industries such as healthcare, education, transport, food and energy, disrupting sectors that represent more than half the economy in developed countries. Although there will still be new apps and lean start-ups, the third wave will bring different challenges to the next generation of entrepreneurs. “Partnerships will become more important: innovators will need to work with existing organisations (such as hospitals for health start-ups) to make the necessary breakthroughs. There will be tough policy problems to solve – most of the sectors are regulated and will continue to be so. And perseverance will be needed to achieve results, unlike in the second wave when successes could sometimes occur virtually overnight. “These challenges are remarkably similar to those we experienced in the first wave. AOL had to partner with other companies to build the internet. We had to work with government to change policies so that telecom networks could be opened up for the internet. And we needed perseverance: it took ten years to build AOL, compared with just ten months to build Facebook.” Case knew that he wanted to work in the digital industries while still a student, after reading The Third Wave, Alvin Toffler’s seminal book about the Information Age. When he graduated in 1980, there were no companies in that sector, so he worked for two Fortune 500 companies to develop his business skills. His break came in 1983 when he joined a company that had a product for Atari games machines. The company was unsuccessful but with the contacts he had made, he started what became AOL in 1985. When it was eventually launched, its arrival came out of the blue to many people. “I used to joke that we were a ten-year overnight success,” he says. AOL also made a bet that the internet was for creating communities of users – anticipating social media by more than a decade. “We also had connectivity, content and commerce, but we felt that the soul of the medium was community. So we created instant messaging, chat rooms and message boards – tools that allowed people to connect with others who shared their interests.” In the 1990s, over half of US internet traffic went through AOL, and half of AOL’s traffic was spent in the community functions.

10 Years

“We wanted to invest in people and ideas that could change the world” Steve Case Co-founder, AOL


The merger in 2000 between AOL and Time Warner – the largest in business history – had the potential to lead the second wave by distributing media through the internet. But it failed on execution, says Case, and new leaders emerged such as Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook. In 2003, he stood down as chairman, resigning from the board in 2005 to devote himself to Revolution, an investment fund he had co-founded earlier that year. “We wanted to invest in people and ideas that could change the world by giving consumers more control, convenience and value, and by creating new business models that would disrupt important sectors of the economy. We now make eight to ten new investments a year worth around $200m: our Ventures fund makes five or six Series A investments of up to $5m; our Growth fund makes three or four investments of $30-50m.” ↳

Breakdown of Revolution’s three main funds

Revolution Investment Fund: 8 – 10 annual new investment worth approx $200m

Revolution Ventures Fund: 5 – 6 annual investment Series A worth approx $5m

Revolution Growth Fund: 3 – 4 annual investment Series A worth approx $40m

Founders Forum


Why invest in Europe now?

Among the dozens of companies Revolution has invested in is Zipcar, the car-sharing company that has created a new sector. “We thought that young people in cities no longer saw the need to own cars. We were the largest shareholder and took it public in 2012. It was the first sharing economy company, before Airbnb and Uber.”

“One of the mega trends in the next decade will be the rise of hotbeds of innovation. We’ve seen a number of pockets of that within the United States. Now we’re starting to see it in Europe – in cities like London, Helsinki, Berlin, Stockholm and others. They’re really emerging as very strong entrepreneurial communities. There’s more talent there in the start-up world, there’s more capital beginning to look at opportunities there, and it’s slowly going to accelerate. It’s not going to happen evenly all across Europe, just as it doesn’t happen evenly across the United States. But there is reason to be optimistic that some cities are really breaking out and emerging as thriving start-up communities.” – Steve Case

Another success was Revolution Money, an internet-based payments platform launched in 2007, which could process payments more cheaply than traditional card companies. Sold to American Express in 2010 for around $300m, it is now a billion-dollar business. As the third internet wave gathers pace, Case has observed another trend: the “Rise of the Rest” – cities and regions across the US that are becoming centres for innovation. “California, Massachusetts and New York will continue to be important, but we’ll see a broadening of the digital economy. Three-quarters of venture capital in the US has been invested in those three centres, which isn’t sustainable if we want a balanced economy. “Large industries located in the middle of the US are now becoming attractive to entrepreneurs and investors as they are being disrupted in the third wave. Pittsburgh is a centre for robotics start-ups, attracted by its manufacturing capabilities and Carnegie Mellon University, which is at the forefront of robotics research. Nashville is a big healthcare city where entrepreneurs are developing healthcare IT businesses. Cincinnati, home of Procter & Gamble, is generating third-wave consumer products start-ups.” Examples of successful innovative companies in the “Rise of the Rest” regions include Under Armour, a $20bn technology-based athletic clothing company in Baltimore. Groupon, a leader in social commerce, is based in Chicago. ExactTarget in Indianapolis has developed digital marketing services. And Denver is home to Chipotle, which has built an innovative fast dining business over the last decade. “This is what has happened throughout US history,” says Case. “Detroit was the Silicon Valley for autos 75 years ago. Pittsburgh was the Silicon Valley for steel 150 years ago. And 50 years ago, Silicon Valley was just apple orchards. We have seen how different technologies spread from such centres across the US and around the world. “Regions with the right talent, vision and local support will rise, attracting more talent and finance. Others will stagnate or decline. That dynamic has been seen through the centuries and there’s no reason to believe it won’t continue into the future.”_

Career facts 1985: Launched AOL 2000: Oversaw merger between AOL and Time Warner Co-founded Revolution Investment Fund 2007: Launched Revolution Money, an internet-based payments platform

10 Years


Nick Halstead Founder and CEO: DataSift It’s difficult to imagine Twitter without the ability to “retweet”, and thanks to DataSift, we don’t need to. Founded by Halstead in 2007, DataSift has gone through a few iterations to become what it is today. Originally conceived as, Halstead built the technology to rank the popularity of human-generated content. TweetMeme came out of a partnership between’s technology and Twitter’s content, leading to the creation of the now ubiquitous Retweet button, installed on more than half a million websites globally. This led to the formation of DataSift, describing itself as “the ultimate engine for programmatically understanding what is being said within social data streams.” What excites you most about Europe? “At the moment, it’s the rapid growth we’re seeing in the digital, media and tech sectors. Beyond London and the UK, there are numerous other European countries that have become hotbeds for innovation in the tech sector. In 2014, €500m was invested into Dutch start-ups, Helsinki continues to have a vibrant start-up scene and a study by VC Atomico revealed that ‘on a per-capita basis, Stockholm is the second most prolific tech hub globally, with 6.3 billion‑dollar companies per million people compared to Silicon Valley with 6.9.’ For a long time, I think Europe has been seen as sitting in the shadow of the US when it comes to tech innovation and success, but we’re now seeing a lot of trailblazers stepping forward.”

Justine Roberts Founder and CEO: Mumsnet With over 14 million visits per month, Mumsnet distinguishes itself as “the UK’s biggest network for parents.” Roberts founded the site in 2000 after a “disastrous family holiday”, realising that if she needed a place to get advice, other parents probably did, too. With a conscious effort to counteract the airbrushed and unrealistic images of motherhood in the media and advertising, Roberts positioned Mumsnet as a place that embraced the reality of motherhood, where women can talk openly to each other about the problems they are facing and offer personal advice. In 2011, Roberts launched Gransnet, a social networking site aimed at grandparents, which the Telegraph states has now become “the country’s biggest social network for older people”. What excites you most about Europe? “For me, Europe’s democratic process is its best feature… and the food!”


Arianna Huffington

Founders Forum



“My favourite video game growing up? You flatter me”

The Huffington Post founder on leadership, entrepreneurship and redefining success ↓ In a tweet, describe what you do. To quote my own Twitter bio: “Mother, sister, flat shoe advocate, sleep evangelist. Author of THRIVE.” What was your biggest break? When I joined the Cambridge Union debating society and eventually became its president. It was a Union debate that brought me to the attention of Reg Davis-Poynter, the British publisher who offered me a contract and set me on the path to becoming a writer. How would you describe your leadership style? I try to stay open to new things while staying true to the core DNA of what the Huffington Post was about in the first place.

Which is the achievement you are most proud of? The Huffington Post. What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made in your career? For many years I subscribed to a very flawed definition of success, buying into the delusion that burnout is the necessary price we must pay for success. Then, in 2007, I had a painful wake-up call: I fainted from exhaustion, hit my head on my desk, and broke my cheekbone.

How much money is too much money? When money obscures the things that really make our lives worth living – our loved ones, what we give, how we connect, lifelong passions, the things that make us laugh – that’s too much money. What’s your favourite app? One of my current favourites is Headspace. Former Buddhist monk Andy Puddicombe created it as a way to make mindfulness meditation easily available. We’ve also made it available free to all HuffPost employees. Android or iOS? iOS. CD or MP3? iPod. ebook or printed book? Both. Your Wikipedia entry: fact or fiction? A mixture. What was the last book you read for pleasure? Unfinished Business by Anne-Marie Slaughter.

Five words of advice for the next generation entrepreneur. Don’t forget to unplug regularly.

What was your favourite video game growing up? Video game growing up? You flatter me.

Which digital technology/trend has been the most disruptive over the last ten years? The rise of blogging. The online world is now a global conversation, with millions of new people pulling up a seat at the table every day.

What is your favourite European city? Paris. When I was 11 my father took me and my sister Agapi there – our first trip outside of Greece.

And which will be the most disruptive over the next ten years? We’ve only just scratched the surface on the potential of wearable technology. What’s the biggest downside to technology? Our hyper-connectedness is the snake lurking in our digital Garden of Eden. What’s the most frustrating aspect of being an entrepreneur operating in Europe? Jet lag.

They’re making the biopic: who would play you? Nasim Pedrad. She does the accent better than I do! When you can’t sleep at night, what do you do? I always keep a book on my bedside table, so if I can’t sleep, I’ll read a little. Is there a God? Yes. Though to borrow from a recent president, it depends on what the definition of God is.

10 Years

Who had the biggest influence in your career? My mother, even though she never held a traditional job. She gave me a sense of unconditional loving. I knew that if I failed (and I did, many times) she wouldn’t love me any less. And that made me less afraid to fail.

Is there such thing as work-life balance? There certainly can be, but it’s not easy. But it’s more a matter of prioritising than balance, which implies you can “have it all,” a phrase we need to banish!

2006 2007 2008 2009 2010

2011 2012 ← 2013 2014 2015

Founders Forum



ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS Casual games are easy to learn but hard to master, perfect for “bite-sized moments” says King’s Riccardo Zacconi. For King and fellow European start-up Supercell, 2012 proved a pivotal year →

Riccardo Zacconi bet the future success of his company on other people’s platforms and in 2012 it became clear that the bet was about to pay off. Spectacularly. Zacconi’s company – the Anglo-Swedish games developer King – released Candy Crush on Facebook in April 2012, and in November launched a mobile app version for the Apple iPhone and devices running Google’s Android operating system. Within the first month of its release on iOS and Android, Candy Crush was downloaded ten million times. By 2013 it had become the most successful game on Facebook, with 46 million average monthly users, surpassing FarmVille from US developer Zynga. Candy Crush is categorised as a “casual game”, a genre that is easy to learn but hard to master. These characteristics mean games can be picked up and played in short bursts – what Zacconi calls “bite-sized moments” – making them perfectly suited for mobile. King, in Zacconi’s words, built its business on the shoulders of giants. “The platforms – Facebook, Google and Apple – have allowed a new economy to develop,” says Zacconi. “Smaller games and app developers are able to thrive and build a worldwide offer for hundreds of millions of users.” When King started out in 2003, online gamers gravitated towards large portals such as Yahoo! However, the terms of any revenue share, which Zacconi describes as “aggressive”, made growth and profitability difficult. That’s why the emergence of Facebook, opened up beyond college students from September 2006, and the smartphone, from the release of the first iPhone in 2007, proved a turning point. These social and mobile platforms transformed reach, accessibility and distribution. Moreover, they made it easier for the user to install, play and pay for the games. Although a variation of Candy Crush was first released on King’s own website in 2011 it was the platform-led approach that guaranteed take-off. When King was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 2014 it represented the largest market debut of any British technology firm in history. King turned over $2.3bn in 2014, boasts 501 million active users per month (as of Q2 2015) and 142 million active users per day.

Featuring Riccardo Zacconi Ilkka Paananen Danny Rimer

Another poster-child of Europe’s platform gaming successes is Supercell, the Finnish developer co-founded by Ilkka Paananen in 2010. Its flagship property, the strategy game Clash of Clans, also debuted in 2012. Like Candy Crush, Clash of Clans has gone on to enjoy impressive, international success. According to June 2015 figures from App Annie, it was the highest-grossing iPad game in 149 territories. Two further games have followed – Hay Day and Boom Beach – and they have enjoyed similar global reach. Like Zacconi, Paananen is in no doubt about the role platforms played in his company’s success.

10 Years


“The platforms – Facebook, Google and Apple – have created a new economy” Riccardo Zacconi Founder, King

King Creator of over 200 casual games including Candy Crush, Farm Heroes and Pet Rescue 2003: Founded by Riccardo Zaconni Turned over $2.3bn in 2014 2015: US computer game company Activision Blizzard, which produces World of Warcraft and Call of Duty, announced they are buying King Digital Entertainment on 3 Nov, in a deal worth $5.9bn (£3.8bn)

Supercell Finnish developer of games 2010: Co-founded by Ilkka Paananen 2015: Clash of Clans was the highestgrossing iPad game in 149 territories around the world 10 per cent of Supercell’s gamers are prepared to pay each month

“The app ecosystem has completely democratised distribution,” Paananen says. “For the first time in the history of gaming it is possible to build a truly global games company that has a key game both in the west but also in the big three eastern markets.” Supercell’s top five markets are the United States, Europe, China, Japan and Korea. In addition to the consumer-facing platforms, Paananen cites the emergence of cloud computing as a key to Supercell’s success. “When I first started my career as an entrepreneur 15 years ago, in order to run a multiplayer game on whatever platform meant a huge investment in server hardware and infrastructure,” he explains. “Most people couldn’t afford it. But these days if you have a credit card, it’s very easy to open an account with Amazon Web Services and get your servers up and running in no time.” The process of games development has changed, too. The observable metrics of game playing at scale can be fed into the creative workflow. Danny Rimer, a partner at Index Ventures – an investor in both Supercell and King – explains: “These games companies are very sophisticated in terms of launching a pilot in a particular geography, seeing whether they are getting the characteristics of game play they are looking for in order to have a hit on their hands. If they don’t, they shut it down very quickly.” Zacconi describes King’s formula as “repeatable and scalable”, a “multi-phased approach”. First, one level of game play is developed at “relatively high frequency and low expense. And when we see that one of these games works, we take the core game play and develop many, many more levels.” Fine-tuning happens at the soft launch phase when the game is launched across a limited number of countries. King’s business intelligence team looks at a number of metrics including retention and monetisation, as well as difficulty and satisfaction per game level. “This means the core game play is very robust and strong,” Zacconi says. “After the launch is when the work really starts. We add new levels, functionality and features.” For example, Candy Crush, which started with 80 levels, now has over 1,000. Newer features include night and live modes. Metrics matter to Supercell, too, although its approach is slightly different. For the first five years, Supercell only launched three games and uses data metrics as a secondary device to challenge or validate assumptions about game play and likely popularity. “We don’t believe that by following the data you can get to the truth,” says Paananen. Games are a form of art, not science, he says, and as such it is incredibly difficult to design new games, despite past experience. “Like music, movies and books, it’s really hard to predict success.” Both Supercell and King rely on a freemium business model. This means gameplay is free while optional add-ons come at a cost. ↳

Founders Forum


Freemium is not a new model. It emerged at the beginning of the last century – think Gillette, its cheap razors and its relatively expensive replaceable blades. The transition to digital has only made the model more viable. As former Wired editor Chris Anderson noted in his 2009 book, Free: the Future of a Radical Price, “21st century free is different from 20th century free. Somewhere in the transition from atoms to bits, a phenomenon that we thought we understood was transformed. ‘Free’ became free.” And it is this that underpins the success of King and Supercell. According to the company’s 2014 annual report, King has 9.8 million paying customers each month. Meanwhile, 10 per cent of Supercell gamers are prepared to pay. Despite this, Zacconi insists, “It is very important for us that all of our games can be played to the finish entirely free.” King and Supercell are not Europe’s only gaming successes. Finland’s Rovio, Germany’s Wooga and Stockholm-based Mojang – the maker of Minecraft, acquired by Microsoft in November 2014 – have prospered in the last decade or more. Paananen believes there has always been a thriving games industry in Europe with a strong developer base and an even stronger fan base. But because the creative work of developers from Sweden and Finland, for example, went through international publishers who would then take all the credit, it went unnoticed. Now thanks in part to platforms built by giant, largely US-based tech companies, European companies are getting noticed and making money._

King’s gamers

501m Active users per month

142m Active users per day

10 Years


“The app ecosystem has completely democratised distribution� Ilkka Paananen Co-founder and CEO, Supercell

Founders Forum


Key Events



Xavier Niel launches Free Mobile in France Wikipedia protests against proposed antipiracy laws in the US, with campaign championing free knowledge


Founders Forum launches in Mumbai, India Founders Forum launches in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, co-hosted with Romero Rodrigues, José Marin and Alec Oxenford


London hosts the Summer Olympics


Martha Lane Fox founds and chairs Go ON UK, the national digital skills alliance

Hiroshi Mikitani launches “Englishnization” across Rakuten and “shakes up Japan” Sir Tim Berners-Lee honoured at the Oylmpic Games opening ceremony Proteus Digital Health receives FDA approval for its ingestible sensor Founders Forum and GREAT host the red carpet Creative Industries Party at the Royal Academy, London

Felix Baumgartner breaks the sound barrier in a 1,342 km/h unassisted dive


Supercell launches Clash of Clans


Founders Forum launches in New York, US, co-hosting with Reid Hoffman and Edgar Bronfman Jr


Sir Tim Berners-Lee launches the World Wide Web Foundation King releases Candy Crush Saga on iOS and Android

Dec Individuals featured in this chapter

SoundCloud releases new version of its service focusing on mobile devices

10 Years

Hiroshi Mikitani Chairman and CEO: Rakuten Mikitani’s Rakuten pioneered ecommerce in Japan, and continues to lead the market. Rakuten prides itself on being the ideal partner for merchants that sell on its platform, where each seller has a dedicated consultant helping them to up their online game. As Mikitani told Wired, “We are about empowering the merchant.” Founded in 1997 and expanding beyond Japan in 2005, Rakuten is currently worth $24.7bn and has grown far beyond simply ecommerce, with over 70 services operating globally. Mikitani is vocal about his global ambitions and in 2010 he introduced a company-wide conversion to English, dubbed “Englishnization”. Whether focusing on local or global markets, at the core of Rakuten is its philosophy of empowerment, both for its partners and consumers alike. Mikitani explained in a Forbes interview: “You need to feel that you’re contributing to the society in order to just keep going.” What do you think Europe needs to change to become more competitive? “Since 2013, I have been a member of the Industrial Competitiveness Council, which advises Japan’s Prime Minister and Cabinet on how to make Japan more competitive globally. But whether we are talking about Japan or Europe, I think that the solution is universal, and that is to create environments that support growth. For rice farmers, the key for successful growth is fertile soil, sunlight, access to clean water, protection from predators, and access to markets. Perhaps if governments supported business growth from the perspective of a rice farmer, we would see many more of these seeds flourish. From my experience, Europe has no shortage of good seeds, so my hope is that they are given a chance.”



Alexander Ljung

Founders Forum



The founder and CEO of SoundCloud discusses the possibilities of our digital future ↓ What was your biggest break? After high school, I managed to land a job in a recording studio, which gave me the time and space to truly fall in love with sound. How would you describe your leadership style? Evolving, always looking to enable our remarkable staff to do what they do best. Who had the biggest influence in your career? My co-founder Eric Wahlforss. We’re creating, learning, developing, and achieving together. Not to mention keeping each other in check from time to time. Which is the achievement you are most proud of? SoundCloud, and the fact that over ten million creators on our platform are heard every month, all around the globe, by 175 million people.

If there was no internet, what would you have done? I would have sent a fax to Tim Berners-Lee asking him to hurry up! Which digital technology/digital trend has been the most disruptive over the last ten years? The ongoing development of the internet. If you consider that, in 2005, social networking was in its infancy and the mobile web was functional at best, we’ve come a long, long way. And which will be the most disruptive over the next ten years? We’re still just at starting points. Elon Musk says artificial intelligence is probably our “biggest existential threat”. Do you agree or disagree? Both. We are clearly our own biggest threat. But then we’ll be the ones creating AIs that might one day be the biggest threat. What’s the biggest downside to technology? It’s very seductive, and it’s possible to become shortsighted by the possibilities. Just because you can build something, it doesn’t mean you necessarily should. Is there such a thing as a work-life balance? Yes, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they are separate. What’s the most frustrating aspect of being an entrepreneur operating in Europe? Time zones, especially with the West Coast. How much money is too much money? If it changes your values, then it’s too much.

Android or iOS? iOS, but it’s a very, very close call. CD or MP3? Neither. Streaming audio on SoundCloud. ebook or printed book? Both, depending on my mood. When did you last google yourself? I get a SoundCloud Google trend alert sent every day, so luckily I don’t have to. Your Wikipedia entry: fact or fiction? Is there one? What was the last book you read for pleasure? The Greek Islands by Lawrence Durrell. What was the first CD you bought/track you downloaded? Metallica, The Black Album. What was the last CD you bought/track you downloaded? Download: Shango, Vinyl: Nick Drake, Pink Moon. What was the make and model of the first mobile phone you owned? It was an Ericsson, I can’t remember the model! What was your favourite video game growing up? King’s Quest. What is your favourite European city? Berlin. We toured a number of cities when we were looking to establish SoundCloud back in 2007. Berlin stood out a mile for its creative atmosphere and cultural diversity. They’re making the biopic: who would play you? The guy who played John Connor in Terminator 2, if he still looks like John Connor in Terminator 2. Just to please my teenage self. Is there a God? No, but we believe in science in a way that almost feels like a religion.

10 Years

What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made in your career? On a few occasions I could have trusted my gut more.

What’s the most overrated technology/ technology trend? The wearable trend, in its current definition.

Founders Forum

Martha Lane Fox Chair: Go ON UK Together with co-founder Brent Hoberman, Lane Fox launched in 1998. Despite the famed burst of the dot-com bubble in 2000 – described by Time as a time when “Stocks sunk. Companies folded. Fortunes were lost” – survived and was sold for £577m in 2005. Since then, Lane Fox has focused her efforts on increasing digital literacy in the UK, including serving as the UK government’s Digital Inclusion Champion for three years, and launching Go ON UK in 2012. Go ON UK describes itself as “the UK’s leading digital skills charity that argues the powerful social and economic case for universal basic digital skills.” Basic digital skills are defined as the minimum skills needed by an individual to access the benefits of the internet, which Go ON UK argues are no longer a luxury but a necessity. What excites you most about Europe? “Our opportunity to become the most fantastically diverse tech sector in the world and therefore the most fair and redistributive.”


10 Years

Sir Tim Berners-Lee Inventor: World Wide Web Berners-Lee famously invented the world wide web while working at Cern, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, in 1989. Since then, he has maintained his visibility as a proponent for privacy, online freedom and a decentralised web as the founder of the World Wide Web Consortium (WC3) and the Web Foundation. WC3 describes Berners-Lee’s original vision for the web as a “communications tool intended to allow anyone, anywhere to share information”, as well as enabling “human communication, commerce, and opportunities to share knowledge”. Berners-Lee founded the Web Foundation in 2009, in keeping with his continued mission to lead the web to its full potential. It aims to make access available for everyone, including the estimated 60 per cent of the world that remains “unconnected”. Does the tech industry have a responsibility to actively engage in philanthropy? “Yes, for many reasons. For one, the tech industry builds powerful new tools, and every advance and cute new feature directly widens the gap between those who have the technology and those who do not. There is an immediate moral responsibility to mitigate that effect by helping those who do not have the new technology acquire it more easily. This may involve countering many issues, such as remote location, poverty and illiteracy, and the effort to design systems which are inherently more inclusive. For another reason, the innovation on which the tech industry has been built often springs from a rich research environment of academics, students and researchers who are given the luxury of research – the time to understand why things are as they are, to dream about how things could be different, and to design a new world in which they are different. This activity needs to be supported and nurtured, and successful industry is a much needed – and very logical – source of support. The general benefit which involvement in philanthropy gives any company includes the ability to understand its place in the world more completely, and a more solid grounding and sense of purpose for its staff.”


2006 2007 2008 2009 2010

2011 2012 2013 ← 2014 2015

Founders Forum


Corporate Transition


Most large organisations are constrained by where they are now, says the Betfair founder, Ed Wray. To get to where they want to be means learning from start-ups before making the move to digital →

In January 2013, Henry Lane Fox launched Founders Intelligence, a consultancy business spun out of Founders Forum. Its goal? “To crack the problem of how large corporates in the offline world can make the transition to digital,” explains Lane Fox. When Lane Fox talks about “the problem”, he is referring to at least three issues that unite most established corporates: an unwarranted sense of entitlement, fear of failure and an inability to attract – or recognise – the right talent. By entitlement Lane Fox is referring to the typical company “that feels it had a right to win in a certain market because it’s an established player”. It is a sentiment that’s shared by many CEOs, says Lane Fox. Fear manifests itself in a number of ways: an aversion to risk and a dread of failure among them. By contrast, the team at the Finnish games maker Supercell celebrates failure with champagne. It’s hard to imagine a corporate company doing the same. “By definition, there are bound to be more failures than successes,” notes Supercell co-founder Ilkka Paananen. “We’re not celebrating failure itself, we are celebrating the learnings of those failures. It’s important to create the environment where it is completely safe to fail, otherwise we might find we haven’t failed in six months. And that means we haven’t taken enough risks.” Risks means iteration, trial and error. This, says Lane Fox, contrasts with a corporate culture where – in order to mitigate risk – companies often end up creating “all-singing, all-dancing solutions” for want of perfection. The result? Feature-creep, exorbitant costs, late delivery and an underwhelmed customer when the product is eventually launched. Taavet Hinrikus, founder of TransferWise, diagnoses risk aversion as a time horizon problem. Companies run by their founders – and by default start-ups fall into this category – take a longer-term view of risk compared to companies that have hired an executive from elsewhere, someone who will be judged on short-term results. “Disrupting your business is not going to improve it in 12 months. It might take five years,” says Hinrikus. “The hired manager who knows he’s going to be fired if he doesn’t improve results in 12 months is not going to take that risk.”


Ed Wray, founder of Betfair and non-executive director of Funding Circle, agrees. “Pretty much everyone who is in a large organisation is constrained by where they are now. They’ve got investors, they’ve got plant and machinery, they’ve got factories.”

Ana Botín Jacques-Antoine Granjon Taavet Hinrikus Henry Lane Fox Ilkka Paananen Ed Wray

As for talent spotting, Lane Fox says: “A great entrepreneur will always attract great talent around them. By contrast, corporates often don’t have the amazing, inspirational digital leader that people want to aggregate around.” Some established firms struggle with a generational issue, too, failing to promote young managers into

10 Years


Corporate concerns

senior digital and leadership roles early enough. “It means you get people at the top of organisations who are out of touch with how technology is being used,” says Lane Fox. “That’s a massive barrier.”

The factors that often inhibit large organisations from embracing change: 01

Fear of failure


A short-term time horizon


An inability to attract, or identify, the best talent

And even for those corporates who recognise the talent gap, there’s another problem. “Where do really great computer engineers want to go and work? Do they want to crack a massive problem at a start-up? Or do they want to go and work in the middle of a large international bank with systems from the 1970s and a bunch of people from the management team who are over 50 and who aren’t going to respect them?” Despite problems in triplicate, there are corporates that are managing digital transition successfully. Lane Fox cites three examples: the multinational advertising and public relations company WPP which puts “new businesses together to compete directly with existing businesses”; Barclays Bank, which runs an accelerator programme in recognition “that they can’t do it alone”; and Guardian News and Media, the newspaper group that is putting digital first. Another company, the Spanish banking group Santander, claims it, too, understands the challenge. Executive chairman Ana Botín believes what is required is “more than transition. This is a radical transformation of not just how we do business but almost of what we do.” It means, she says, understanding evolving customer behaviours and identifying where an established bank can add value. A loose signposting agreement with the business peer-to-peer lending firm Funding Circle; the launch of Santander InnoVentures, a $100m fund to get closer to the next wave of innovation in FinTech; and a million mobile customers in the UK alone are, Botín maintains, evidence of Santander’s willingness to change. ↳

“Great entrepreneurs will always attract talent around them” Henry Lane Fox Co-founder, Founders Intelligence

Founders Forum

The transition is not all one way, of course. There are lessons start-ups can learn from corporates. Henry Lane Fox suggests one of the most important lessons is about how to manage growth. “At when we got to 1,000 people – by no means an enormous organisation – our ability to innovate internally slowed down. It can produce managerial issues. There is a point at which a start-up becomes a serious business where it needs to have processes and that’s an awkward thing for start-ups to know how to do.” Reliability is a key attribute, says Botín, as is acknowledging the continued importance of the offline – being present “locally, physically and in person” matters as much as being available at any time, anywhere via a smartphone. Ed Wray has observed the disruptive impact digital has had on two industries and believes corporate decline is inevitable. “Bookmakers do still exist but there are – I would guess – around half as many betting shops on the high street as there were when we started Betfair.” “Banks are closing branches left, right and centre. You will put bookmakers out of business and you will put banks out of business if they don’t adapt their model. If you did a straw poll of 22-year-olds and asked, ‘When did you last see your bank manager?’ they’re likely to say, ‘I have no idea what you are talking about’.” Jacques-Antoine Granjon, on the other hand, forecasts co-existence. Granjon, founder of French online retailer vente-privee, says ecommerce will not extinguish the physical shopping experience. “People want to have a mix of both in their lives, to be able to browse and research what they want online and then experience the product in the brand’s physical store,” he says. “The future is click-on-mortar with mobile devices driving people to physical stores and impacting their purchases and shopping experience.”_

“It’s important to create an environment where it’s safe to fail” Ilkka Paananen Co-founder and CEO, Supercell


10 Years


Key Events

2013 Jan

Henry Lane Fox launches Founders Intelligence


Founders Forum, Universal Music Group and UK Trade & Investment launch Technology Innovators Forum in Los Angeles, US, co-hosting with Lucian Grainge CBE, Michael Lynton, Ari Emanuel and

Pope Francis is elected the 266th Pope, the first pontiff from the Southern Hemisphere


Yahoo! buys Summly for $30m

US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden leaks classified documents


Founders Forum launches the Founders Forum For Good Foundation


Dr Mike Lynch’s Invoke Capital backs its first investment, Darktrace


Yandex acquires KinoPoisk, Russia’s largest movie database

BlaBlaCar launches its operations in the UK

Japan’s SoftBank buys 51 per cent stake, valued at $1.5bn, in Supercell

Nelson Mandela dies, aged 95

Individuals featured in this chapter


Founders Forum

Arkady Volozh



10 Years


“We offered to sell Yandex to Rambler for $15,000. They turned us down” Arkady Volozh Principal founder and CEO, Yandex

The computer scientist Arkady Volozh created the algorithms behind Russia’s largest search engine after the collapse of the Soviet Union, competing against global internet giants such as Google →

Arkady Volozh’s childhood was spent travelling, moving around parts of the former Soviet Union in pursuit of his father’s career as a geologist. He was a star pupil at his elite physics and maths school in Almaty, then capital of the Soviet Republic of Kazakhstan, and he went on to study computer sciences to PhD level in Moscow. But perestroika and the collapse of the Soviet Union changed everything for him, and he has travelled a lot further since. He became a serial entrepreneur, starting a series of successful IT enterprises with his childhood friend Ilya Segalovich, before founding Russia’s largest search engine. Today, Yandex is one of the most popular websites in Russia, with around 60 per cent of the search market and over six billion searches every month. It also operates in Belarus, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Turkey and has recently moved into processing big data for corporate clients. And it raised $1.3bn with an initial public offering on the US NASDAQ in 2011, the largest American-based IPO for a dot-com since Google. “When we started up in business, everything was new,” says Volozh. “There was nobody to ask what to do, because nobody knew how to do it in Russia. It was not only a technological start-up, it was an economic start-up!” During his education, Volozh imagined that he would become a scientist like his parents but suddenly there were many new opportunities, and he found himself working in hardware and software. One of the projects was to index the information held by a patents institute in 1989, so he brought together search specialists and linguists to create the first algorithms needed to search Russian documents.

Career facts 1997: Launches Yandex demo site 2000: Becomes chief executive of Yandex after CompTek split 2011: Yandex raises $1.3bn from NASDAQ IPO 2014: Opens Yandex Data Factory in Amsterdam

He also started importing computers with friends, creating a company called CompTek International. It became the country’s largest network systems distributor, bringing wireless telephony and voice over IP telephony to Russia. He also co-founded InfiNet Wireless, a provider of wireless networking technology. But he continued developing the search software, indexing the Bible to demonstrate its capabilities. Next the company earned its first fee for search work by indexing all of Alexander Griboyedov’s and then Alexander Pushkin’s works for a literary institute. The software was called Yandex, an acronym for Yet Another Index-er, and it was not the first Russian search engine: Rambler had been launched in 1996. “We offered to sell Yandex to Rambler for $15,000,” says Volozh. “It was three times better at finding Russian materials than their generic search engine, but they turned the offer down, saying that they were already the market leader! Other search engines also turned us down, so we launched a Yandex demo site in September 1997, which we thought would be of interest only to IT specialists and journalists. ↳

Founders Forum


What excites you most about Europe?

“To promote our indexing libraries service, we indexed the whole Russian internet, which at that time took up only four gigabytes of storage on two servers under a desk. But after two months, it was growing so much that we realised we needed more storage and put it on a rack. Because Yandex could search Russian text so fast, it became the largest internet search system in the country within three years.”

“Its variety. The European market is a ‘hotpot’ of languages, cultures, mentalities, and histories that gives rise to a variety of companies, products, and services – specialised for every region. And, at the same time, Europe’s variety is its weakness – building a pan-European technology company is quite challenging. This is where we see our opportunities – to provide the best products and solutions to customers in Europe through integration of our machining-learning technologies and our expertise in data science with customer understanding possessed by local companies.” – Arkady Volozh

Yandex was spun off from CompTek in 2000, with Volozh as chief executive officer. It became profitable in 2002 – six months earlier than expected – and has been profitable ever since. Subsequently, it opened offices in Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan, developing its services for local users. International competition came from Google, another start-up that decided to start indexing the world in 1998 and exchanged ideas with Yandex. Google feared that Microsoft would thrash the two minnows and suggested getting together, but the terms it suggested were unacceptable. Soon after Google’s IPO in 2004, it launched in Russia. Google failed to grow beyond a 30 per cent market share as Yandex defended its 60 per cent leadership. After the Yandex IPO in 2011, Volozh realised that browsers were the main distribution channel for search, and that Microsoft and Google were squeezing smaller search engines out to favour their own. It decided to launch its own browser in 2012, though it still retained a significant following in Russia through other browsers because of its popularity. Russia’s recent economic problems have also been a threat. After years of growth, Yandex had ambitious expansion plans to take 3 per cent of the global search market. But revenue growth has been eroded by the plunging rouble, with revenues falling from $1.2bn in 2013 to $900m in 2014. The same has happened in 2015, leaving Yandex’s share of the search market stuck at 2 per cent. “We are now trying to expand abroad, having launched in Turkey in 2011 with an entirely new product for local users. Our maps and traffic services have been very successful – Istanbul is as congested as Moscow. And a relaunch in April 2015 aimed at becoming number two behind Google has started to raise our market share.

Search engine market share in Russia in 2004

60 per cent Yandex

“We are also seeking to apply our core search competences of machine learning and big data to other industries. Yandex Data Factory, opened in Amsterdam in 2014, is helping large companies make sense of their accumulated mass of data and solve various tasks.”

30 per cent Google

10 per cent Other

One other Russian problem is the brain-drain of talented Russian tech specialists to the US, Israel and Western Europe – a threat to Russia’s competitive position in the sector. Volozh believes that there are still plenty of bright young people coming up through an education system that fosters maths and engineering skills. But to ensure the continuing supply of new talent, Yandex opened a School of Data Analysis in 2007 which has since expanded into a computer sciences faculty at the top Moscow university Higher School of Economics. “When the faculty opened last year, there were 35 applications for every place – the highest level in the university’s 25-year history. The best people in the US become lawyers or doctors, but in Russia they go for engineering and we need to maintain that flow of talent.”_

10 Years

Dr Mike Lynch Founder: Invoke Capital A self-made billionaire, Lynch sold the co-founded Autonomy to Hewlett-Packard for $11.7bn in 2011. Before his record-breaking sale, Lynch founded his first tech company as a young Cambridge student and continues to maintain a close relationship with the university. His current venture, Invoke Capital, invests in promising European start-ups, many coming out of Cambridge. As he said to The Economist in 2013, “What you will find in Cambridge is something which is fundamentally clever. What you are going to find in Tech City is something where the raw science isn’t fundamentally clever but it’s more attuned to the market and the consumer.” Why would you invest in Europe now? “I remain convinced that Europe, with the calibre of its universities and engineers, produces technologies that are equal or superior to anything that emerges from Silicon Valley, with the advantage that valuations aren’t overhyped and staff retention is easier. True, the ecosystem is smaller, and thus the pool of technology, marketing and sales capital and talent is less, but that is improving as our vibrant start-ups mature. There is a lot of potential to unlock in Europe.”


2006 2007 2008 2009 2010

2011 2012 2013 2014 ← 2015

Founders Forum


Artificial Intelligence


Demis Hassabis and his DeepMind co-founders want to “solve intelligence”, both natural and artificial. Following acquisition by Google in 2014, they may yet get their chance →

In late January 2014, news filtered through from Silicon Valley that Google had made one of its most significant European acquisitions ever. The subject of Google’s interest: a three-year-old London start-up called DeepMind. Its area of expertise: artificial intelligence. Google remains coy about the price tag – reports suggest between £300-400m – but it’s understood that Larry Page was so keen on the deal that he led it himself. Page and Google were attracted to the research that DeepMind was undertaking. But they were equally drawn to the talent, not just of co-founders Demis Hassabis, Shane Legg and Mustafa Suleyman, but also of the engineers who want to join DeepMind. In Hassabis, they were getting the archetypal high achiever: a pre-teen world chess champion, A-levels at the age of 16, co-design credits on the commercially-successful Theme Park console game a year later, a double First from Cambridge University in computer science and a doctorate in cognitive neuroscience. Together with Legg and Suleyman, he founded DeepMind in 2011 with a mission to “solve intelligence”, no less. The choice of “solve”, a rather ambiguous verb, was deliberate. “What we are interested in,” Hassabis says, “is understanding intelligence, both natural and artificial, and recreating it artificially.” He draws a distinction between narrow and general artificial intelligence. “It’s all about making machines smart and there are two ways of doing that. You can programme solutions directly, and that’s what most AI is, or you can give the systems the ability to learn for themselves directly from data.” “We’re seeing the former type of AI embedded everywhere – on your phone, and you could even call search a part of that. So AI is all around us. The revolution that’s happening is with this second type of AI, this learning type of AI, and it’s starting to really work.” For Hermann Hauser – founder, investor and observer of the European technology for nearly five decades – the pace at which machine learning has been applied to commercial applications has come as a surprise. Apple and Google voice recognition services are “now better than human”, he says, while advances in face and image recognition are equally impressive. “I thought this would take another decade,” he says. “Machine learning is dealing with many aspects that were thought to be the prerogative of humans. In principle, I cannot see anything that a human can learn that a machine cannot learn better.”

Featuring Demis Hassabis Hermann Hauser

He puts the accelerated development and application of machine learning, in part, down to the availability of very large training data sets and sees this as playing a big part in the next wave of computing. In Hauser’s own model of the postwar evolution of computing,

10 Years

“I don’t see anything that a human can learn that a machine cannot learn better” Hermann Hauser KBE Co-Founder and partner, Amadeus Capital Partners


the fifth and current wave is characterised by smartphones and the cloud. Ultimately, he says, it will be superseded by a sixth wave defined by omnipresent computers – think the Internet of Things – and machine learning. “Because the Internet of Things provides such a tsunami of data, we don’t have enough people in the world to analyse it. So having an automatic way of processing the data with learning is the key ingredient of making the sixth wave successful.” Hassabis is excited by the potential combination of big data and artificial intelligence, too. “I’d like to see AI-assisted science,” he says, referring to artificial intelligence systems that can process and interpret data. Doing more than number crunching, in other words. “It’s about finding the patterns and insights in the data.” ↳

Google DeepMind employee breakdown Approximately 150 employees in 2015 25 per cent: Applied research team (applying DeepMind technology to Google products)

75 per cent: Research scientists

Founders Forum



“That’s the most exciting aspect of this general AI, rather than the hand-programmed AI where you can never get more out than you put in. It’s never going to discover a theory or a great scientific insight.”

2010: Londonbased artificial intelligence start-up founded Mission: to “solve intelligence” 2014: Acquired by Google in January for a reported £300-400m Co-founder Demis Hassabis gained a double First in computer science and a doctorate in cognitive neuroscience

As for other applications of AI, Hassabis points to finance and healthcare as sectors that should exploit its potential. Elsewhere, he’d like general AI – rather than the hand-programmed alternative – applied to gaming. In early 2015, DeepMind revealed that it had built an agent that could play 49 classic Atari games. Hassabis wants to go further. “What makes games the equal of film and books is in allowing the player to become the story,” he says. “But how do you make sure that every decision the player makes is going to be fun and compelling when you [the games developer] are not in control of all those choices? One solution is to create all those paths by hand, what modern games try and do. That’s incredibly expensive and intractable because you can’t write a hundred strands of prose that will all be at a Shakespearean level. So you’d need an adaptive AI to make it happen. It will take open games to another level.” On how Google might apply artificial intelligence in the future, Hassabis is careful not to be drawn on specifics. “Our systems are only just getting mature enough to think about using them in practical terms,” he says diplomatically. He hints at AI adoption for recommendation systems – YouTube, perhaps – and other data streams. More broadly, he says: “Google’s mission is to organise the world’s information and AI fits in well with that mission because it’s about taking unstructured data and turning it into ‘actionable knowledge’.” “One reason we decided to join Google was to get access… to their compute cloud. It’s accelerated our research programme.” So what is it like going from European start-up one day to part of the Google behemoth the next? “For us it’s been almost no change,” says Hassabis. When negotiating the 2014 deal, the DeepMind co-founders persuaded Google to allow them to continue operating out of their King’s Cross office in London. There they remain surrounded by 150 employees, mostly research scientists.

“Google’s mission is to organise the world’s information. AI fits that well” Demis Hassabis Co-founder and CEO, Google DeepMind

Hassabis is passionate about the European start-up scene and about the UK especially. “It’s in very rude health,” he says. “I’m a Londoner, I love London and I’ve always felt we have talent that’s the equal of anywhere else in the world. Our universities are just as good as the top US universities and the people coming out of them are just as strong.” “I thought DeepMind could be a magnet for that talent, and it has turned out that way.” Larry Page, for one, took note._

10 Years


Key Events



Google acquires UK-based artificial intelligence start-up DeepMind for a reported £400m Zynga buys UK gaming company NaturalMotion for $527m Henry Lane Fox and Richard Segal launch Founders Keepers


Alex and Mark Asseily launch State Facebook acquires WhatsApp for $19bn


Klarna acquires German online payment company SOFORT Rohan Silva launches Spacious (now Second Home) King floats on NYSE


vente-privee launches in the UK JUST EAT floats on the London Stock Exchange


Founders Forum leads the technology sector as part of the UKTI’s GREAT Festival of Creativity in Istanbul, Turkey


Zoopla floats on the LSE, valued at £919m Founders Forum For Good launch the Founders Pledge Founders Forum launches The HealthTech Forum, co-hosting with Dr Jack Kreindler and Daniel Kraft

Malaysia Airlines flight 17 is shot down over eastern Ukraine


US property group Zillow buys Trulia for $3.5bn

Andrus Ansip appointed vice president of the European Commission


Nikesh Arora joins SoftBank Corp. (currently SoftBank Group Corp.) as vice chairman and SoftBank Internet and Media Inc. (currently SB Group US, Inc.) as CEO


Germany’s Rocket Internet floats on Frankfurt Stock Exchange


Sean Parker pledges $600m to establish The Parker Foundation

Individuals featured in this chapter

Founders Forum

Sean Parker Chairman: The Parker Foundation Parker is a philanthropist and entrepreneur with a record of launching genre-defining companies. He is the chairman of The Parker Foundation, which focuses on three areas: life sciences, global public health and civic engagement. In 2015, he announced a $600m contribution to launch the foundation. He has been recognised for his leadership in funding and promoting research into the relationship between the immune system and cancer. Parker was the co-founder of Napster at age 19 and Plaxo at 21. In 2004 he joined with Mark Zuckerberg to develop the online social network Facebook and served as Facebook’s founding president. In 2007, he co-founded Causes on Facebook, which registered 180 million people to donate money and take action via Facebook; and in 2014 announced his backing of a new initiative called Brigade, an online platform for civic engagement. How can technology make a positive impact on people’s lives? “The trouble for hackers venturing into the field of philanthropy is one of scale. How do these individuals, accustomed to unleashing massive social changes that span the globe, make a lasting contribution in their charitable lives and find satisfaction in doing so? Hacker philanthropists have to recognise that their successes will be few and infrequent and that their rewards will be fleeting, personal and often unrecognised. They will need to ground themselves in a genuine commitment to serve others and draw from a deeply felt sense of purpose.” (Wall Street Journal, 2015)


10 Years


Rohan Silva Co-founder: Second Home and Hubble Credited with aiding the formation of east London’s start-up hub, dubbed Tech City, Silva is a vocal proponent of London’s creativity, describing London in an article for the Guardian as “a magnet for people from all over the world”. A former adviser to Prime Minister David Cameron, Silva left his position in government in 2013 to co-found two ventures, Second Home and Hubble. Both provide entrepreneurs and creative people with access to flexible places to work and live in the city, and build new types of creative communities in places around the world. Another aim of Second Home and Hubble is to provide spaces for young businesses that rival those of big names such as Google. As Silva told the Financial Times: “Why should small, innovative companies be in the crappiest digs? Why can’t they be in places that are just as inspiring?” What excites you most about Europe? “Right now there are far too many obstacles that make it difficult to do business across national borders in Europe. If we’re going to unleash the full potential of entrepreneurs – especially in the world of technology – to create jobs and economic growth, this simply has to change.”

Alexander Asseily Co-founder and chairman: Jawbone, State and Chiaro The man behind the famous Jawbone headset, Asseily co-founded Aliph, which later become known as Jawbone, in 1998. The company released the first Jawbone headset in 2004, and the Jawbone Bluetooth headset two years later. Since then, Jawbone has expanded its range of consumer electronics, which now includes awardwinning speakers and fitness trackers, along with its signature headsets. While no longer CEO of Jawbone, Asseily remained on as chairman of the company until February 2015, but these days he has more than consumer electronics on his mind. After returning to London from San Francisco in 2010, Asseily launched with his brother Mark. The “global opinion network” is described by Asseily on TechCrunch as “the simplest way for people everywhere to connect their opinions with the world.” What excites you most about Europe? “Europe has world-class universities producing tonnes of amazing talent that’s waiting to be unleashed from them. It also has lots of capital. But certain spices are needed to bake the cake: regulatory flexibility like in the UK, experienced role models to coach new founders towards excellence and a global outlook, and a more inspired, ballsy investment culture to support new ideas through to sustainability.”


Alex Chesterman

“ MOBILE HAS CHANGED EVERYTHING ” Zoopla founder on smartphones, property and why Hard Rock Café beats Goldman Sachs ↓ In a tweet, describe what you do. Founder & CEO of Zoopla Property Group, a UK publicly-listed digital media business that owns some of the UK’s leading online brands.

Founders Forum

What was your biggest break? Deciding to take a job offer from Hard Rock Café over one from Goldman Sachs after university ultimately led me down the entrepreneurial path. How would you describe your leadership style? Very hands-on from a strategic perspective, but knowing how to build a great team and when to empower others. Who had the biggest influence in your career? My father was an entrepreneur and that bred an interest in business and entrepreneurial desire in me from an early age. Which is the achievement you are most proud of? Listing Zoopla Property Group on the London Stock Exchange at a valuation of £1bn just six years after launch. Five words of advice for the next generation of digital and technology entrepreneurs: Persevere and go for it. If there was no internet, what would you have done? I would likely have remained in the hospitality industry and been involved with opening restaurants, which is in my blood. Which digital technology/trend has been the most disruptive over the last ten years? Mobile has changed everything. It has driven consumer expectations to a whole new level. Which will be the most disruptive over the next ten years? The mobile transformation is still in its infancy and will continue to evolve. Is there such a thing as a work-life balance? I am told there is, although I am not sure that I have found it yet. What’s the biggest downside to technology? It has the power to enable the wrong type of activities whether by governments, criminals, terrorists or others.

Elon Musk says artificial intelligence is probably our “biggest existential threat”. Do you agree or disagree? I am not sure I see it as an existential threat but it is certainly going to change the way that things are done in many areas of the economy and the human race will require different skills to be productive as more functions are performed with less human intervention. What’s the most overrated technology trend? Wearable technology in its current form. No doubt improvements are coming, but it is important to distinguish between innovation and gimmick. How much money is too much money? Money is an important reward for hard work and success, but should not be the biggest driver for entrepreneurs. What’s your favourite app? Zoopla, of course! All the property information you could possibly need in one place all the time. When did you last google yourself? Never. Your Wikipedia entry: fact or fiction? Mostly accurate. What was the last book you read for pleasure? The Churchill Factor by Boris Johnson. What was the last CD you bought/track you downloaded? Andrea Bocelli. What was the make and model of the first mobile phone you owned? Can’t remember the first, but my favourite was the Motorola flip phone. What was your favourite video game growing up? Space Invaders and Asteroids. What is your favourite European city? London (home). When you can’t sleep at night, what do you do? Fill in questionnaires like this. Is there a God? I like to think so.


“Money matters but it shouldn’t be the biggest driver for an entrepreneur”

10 Years

Founders Forum

Pete Flint Founder and former CEO: Trulia Part of the original team behind, Flint helped scale the company during his five years as marketing and business development director. Two years before was sold for $1.1bn to the Sabre Group in 2005, Flint left to pursue his studies at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. During this period, Flint conceived of Trulia with co-founder Sami Inkinen. Officially launched in September 2005, Trulia is a residential real estate site that not only lists properties to buy and rent, but focuses on information that helps users make educated decisions, including price trends and crime maps. Growing steadily since inception, Trulia floated in 2012 and was purchased by Zillow in 2014 for $3.5bn. What excites you most about Europe? “As the tech-enabled economy becomes increasingly global, Europe is better positioned than it has ever been. Europeans have cultural and geographic plurality in their DNA, helping create an exciting new set of truly global technology companies.”

Sebastian Siemiatkowski Co-founder and CEO: Klarna Studying together at the Stockholm School of Economics, Siemiatkowski and two friends, Niklas Adalberth and Viktor Jacobsson, saw a gap in the ecommerce market – a lack of safe and reliable online transactions for the buyer and the seller. Siemiatkowski and his co-founders launched Kreditor, the precursor to Klarna, in 2005. Its approach of allowing consumers to pay for a purchase after receipt, and assuming the risk of non-payment on behalf of sellers, results in a safer experience for all parties. Combining this with a continuous effort to streamline its online payment system, the company has grown exponentially from 2005, now dealing with 250,000 transactions per day. What do you think Europe needs to change to become more competitive? “Unfortunately, it’s not going to be any revolutionary insights, it’s just going to take a lot of hard work and execution. Creating a single digital European market sounds so easy on paper, but is very difficult – yet necessary – to accomplish. And also ensuring we have the right talent, especially when it comes to engineering and developers.”


10 Years

Nikesh Arora


The Indian-born Nikesh Arora has worked across three continents and held top positions at two global technology giants. Now he believes most disruption will happen locally and be led by young entrepreneurs →


Founders Forum


Career facts

When Nikesh Arora was studying for his MBA, he read an article in the Harvard Business Review in which a global executive shared his views on what it would take to run large businesses in the future. The key message was that businesses were going to become more global and that those in charge would need diverse experience.

2000 – 2004: Chief marketing officer at T-Mobile 2004 – 2014: Chief business officer at Google 2014: Vice chairman of SoftBank 2015: President and chief operating officer of SoftBank, successor to Masayoshi Son

He says that the article stuck somewhere in his subconscious, and his diverse career certainly reflects its insights. Born and educated in India, he went to the United States to complete his education and worked as an analyst for two leading fund managers. He then moved to Europe to work for T-Mobile, where he became the board member responsible for products and marketing at the German mobile phone network. Next came Google in 2004, where he managed the European business before becoming the group’s chief business officer in the United States. And in September 2014, he joined SoftBank, the Japanese technology giant, where he has become president and chief operating officer and was anointed in 2015 as successor to Masayoshi Son, the company’s founder. “I have never shied away from learning more about the world,” he says. “Whether it was being a European, Latin American or Asian telecom analyst, working at T-Mobile across its international portfolio, or opening over 40 Google offices around the world, I was there. “As you can imagine, the operating culture of most of these places is different, yet one has to strike a balance between that and the culture of the company that you represent. It’s been fun – though the travel can get to you at times.” With an electrical engineering degree from the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology Varanasi, his work has inevitably focused on technology and telecom businesses. So after being bitten by the entrepreneurial bug while working in fund management in Boston, he went to Europe to start a mobile data venture in partnership with T-Mobile. “This allowed me to flex my creative muscles with strong financial backing. Given that it was fully funded by T-Mobile, it was not as risky as a pure-bred start-up. And we ended up merging the business into T-Mobile. But it was like no other experience of my life at that time – it was 24/7 non-stop work, fun, passion and excitement.”

“It’s a great time to be investing in Europe” Nikesh Arora President and COO, SoftBank

After five years with T-Mobile, he was again inspired to launch a start-up, this time a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) covering many countries. But as he acknowledges ruefully, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google’s founders, got the better of him. They brought him into the company, where his European role was later expanded to cover the Middle East and Africa. His reputation grew fast, and in 2009 he was appointed global head of sales. As chief business officer for the Google group from 2011, he was responsible for all sales, marketing and business development – raising revenues to over $60bn. His focus on execution was

10 Years


What excites you most about Europe?

particularly valuable in a company whose very smart leaders devised many strategies but were not always so effective in executing them. After being in sales for a long time, Arora wanted to run a company, but he was not a techie and could see that becoming Google’s chief executive was not a possibility. So in 2014 he joined SoftBank, one of Japan’s largest companies, as vice-chairman with a mission to take a $70bn company to the next level by globalising the company. Masayoshi Son also saw an opportunity to expand the group’s footprint into new ventures, in the same way as Google had created the Android operating system, which took it into smartphones and tablets, and was investing in projects such as driverless cars.

“When I worked in Europe around ten years ago, I was often asked, ‘What’s different here from Silicon Valley, why are they able to do what they do?’ I think it’s fair to say, we aren’t at that stage any more, we know the answers, and Europe is in execution mode. Successful start-up activity needs an ecosystem and a cultural awareness and acceptance around heightened risk-taking and acceptance of failure. The UK and Germany particularly are showing signs of an ecosystem developing more and more start-up activity. The global success of the ‘unicorn’ phenomenon is inspiring more and more European entrepreneurs to take the plunge. I am excited by the prospect of all those efforts bearing fruit and watching a thriving start-up culture take hold in Europe.” – Nikesh Arora

Arora had known Son for five years before the move, and the two men had liked each other and kept in touch. His focus is to expand in the rest of Asia and then grow the businesses in the US and also Europe, which he sees as a strong and silent success story that is attractive to investors. “Entrepreneurship has blossomed in different parts of Europe, whether in the early days of the internet and mobile with Carphone Warehouse, Virgin and in the UK, the Samwer businesses in Germany, and the Scandinavian entrepreneurs behind Skype, Spotify and many other start-ups. There is a slow and steady movement to support the creative aspirations across the region, and one is beginning to see heightened activity in the European unicorns [start-up companies whose valuations exceed $1bn]. “I foresee that most businesses – apart, perhaps, for a few fundamental industries – will be disrupted by the internet, but all this disruption will need to be created locally by young entrepreneurs. The success of Silicon Valley has inspired people from all over the world to go back to their home countries, and accelerate this disruption. Not just that, there are some great ideas for disrupting global markets which are being incubated in Europe. I think this is a great time to think of investing in these European efforts.” Since joining SoftBank, he has spearheaded a surge of investments in tech start-ups and entrepreneurial ventures. The company was an early investor in Alibaba, China’s online marketplace, and has now invested in India’s Snapdeal equivalent, as well as Ola Cabs, which has a Uber-style taxi app. “I am excited by our portfolio of companies, which includes ecommerce, transportation, robotics, FinTech, advertising, hospitality, gaming – as well as mobile. What gets me up every morning is the opportunity to work alongside exciting teams, helping them translate their dreams into reality. Most, if realised, will change the way businesses operate around us, will probably be good for humanity, and will inspire many more such ventures. I want to spend the next phase of my career in helping great ideas succeed. “And I am enjoying working for SoftBank. The corporate headquarters are in Japan, which is one of the most amazing places in the world. The Japanese passion, dedication and pursuit of excellence come through in everything, with extreme politeness and humility. It is a joy to work there.”_

2006 2007 2008 2009 2010

2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 ←

Founders Forum


IP and Innovation

DISRUPTION, DISINTERMEDIATION, REINVENTION How do entrepreneurs spin ideas out of intellectual property? And how do they turn those ideas into commercial success? Here’s how →

Ed Wray, the founder of Betfair, has some advice for would-be innovators: don’t forget to look back. He believes you should look forward, too, but backwards really matters. Why? “What a lot of tech innovation has actually done is take us back to first principles,” Wray says. “All Betfair was doing, for example, was going back to the origins of betting, which was two people standing on Newmarket Heath watching their horses and saying, ‘I bet one guinea.’ As it grew harder to do person-to-person betting, by necessity we introduced these things called bookmakers to facilitate the process. Ironically, what technology has allowed us to do is get people back together, virtually.” It’s the same with banking, he says. Individuals used to lend to each other. As transaction distances and volumes grew, banks acted as mediators and protectors of money. “Now you are seeing that disintermediation come again. Technology has shrunk the world and as you shrink the world, you bring back into focus a lot of things you were doing before.” Innovation and the exploitation of intellectual property is a perennial concern for investors, would-be and serial entrepreneurs alike. In 2015 Founders Forum’s Henry Lane Fox set up Founders Factory with a mission to help organisations effectively disrupt their own business. Part accelerator, part incubator and part professional dating service, it brings seemingly incongruous companies together to help them come up with new ideas. For example, would pairing the Guardian Media Group and Unilever produce a solution to help arrest declining advertising revenues? Lane Fox says: “The simple idea behind Founders Factory is: could there be an arms-length organisation which can help companies access disruptive technologies that will genuinely create business models that can become standalone successes?” Disruption, disintermediation, reinvention – the routes to innovation are many and varied. For Jacques-Antoine Granjon, founder of the French retailer vente-privee, the way to turn an interesting idea into a commercial success is to adopt what he calls “the little cabin strategy”. He explains: “You start small, build a ‘small cabin from wood’, and if that works you concretise it and expand on it.”

Featuring Jacques-Antoine Granjon Henry Lane Fox Ilkka Paananen Marc Samwer Ed Wray

Ilkka Paananen, co-founder and CEO of the games maker Supercell, believes innovation is hard work and he remains amazed how difficult it is to create new games even in the wake of past successes. Algorithms and user data only help developers up to a point. “If it really was a mathematical problem then someone over the last ten or 20 years would have figured it out by now,” he says. “There is no magic

10 Years


formula.” Instead Supercell relies on timing, talent and luck. This is underpinned by an organisational model made up of very small teams – the “cells” in Supercell – which operate independently and autonomously until a game is ready for internal testing. There’s another way to view innovation that is less about intellectual property and more about execution. In April 2012, Wired magazine ran a piece profiling Marc, Oliver and Alexander Samwer, the German brothers behind Rocket Internet. The photo shoot that illustrated the feature paid homage to the experimental synth rock band Kraftwerk, themselves a highly successful German export. The brothers were dressed, à la Kraftwerk, in identical red shirts and skinny black ties. Clones, in other words. And experts in cloning is the backhanded compliment most often paid to the Samwers – taking an idea that exists elsewhere, making it work and, invariably, selling it on. “We are not in the invention business but we are in the innovation business,” insists Marc Samwer, the eldest of the three brothers. “If you look at most successful digital business models around the world, they are innovations of business models that already existed offline or in other countries or in another context.” (Rocket Internet’s strapline reads: “We Build Companies.”) How does Samwer feel about the copycat label? “We have no problem with it,” he says. “We are systematic entrepreneurs… We knew not to waste ten years looking for an idea. The likelihood that an idea will fail is so large, we call it the ‘idea risk’. There are many ideas that look fantastic on paper but for whatever reason they don’t succeed in reality.” ↳

“We are not in the invention business but we are in the innovation business” Marc Samwer Co-founder, Rocket Internet

Founders Forum

So what characterises an idea that is likely to succeed? “The number one thing is whether people are ready to pay for it. Even if the amounts are small and even if those willing to pay are a fraction of the total that use the service, that’s the sign you are looking for.” Meanwhile, the lowering costs of technology have created a more fertile environment for innovation, says Henry Lane Fox. “When we were building, there were no off-the-shelf technologies. We had hundreds of developers sitting in a room. The overheads were astronomical.” “We were burning enormous amounts of money every month because we had to. Now that’s not necessary. That in itself lets more people try stuff and experiment.” Ed Wray has two final pieces of advice for those in search of the next big thing. First, he counsels, “If you could forget everything you knew about an industry and design it for today’s context, and if you don’t design it in a way that already exists, then that industry is absolutely going to get disrupted.” His final piece of advice? Don’t let perfection be the enemy of the good. “Innovation isn’t necessarily about having some light bulb moment. It’s actually accepting that what you have is not optimal,” says Wray. “Mark Zuckerberg’s classic quote, ‘Move fast and break things’, is exactly right.”_

The ideas factory 01

Go back to first principles


Don’t let perfection be the enemy of the good


Establish if someone is prepared to pay for the product or service


Build small. Assess. Build big




10 Years


“Mark Zuckerberg’s classic quote, ‘Move fast and break things’ is exactly right” Ed Wray Founder, Betfair

Founders Forum


Key Events



Michael Birch relaunches Bebo Holtzbrinck Publishing Group and BC Partners announce the merger of a majority of Macmillan Science and Education with Springer Science+Business Media Founders Forum launches The Future of Payments forum, co-hosting with The UK Cards Association


Raspberry Pi 2 launches


Net-a-Porter and Yoox announce merger plans to create the world’s largest online luxury brand retailer Founders Forum leads the technology sector as part of the UKTI’s GREAT Festival of Creativity in Shanghai, China


BlaBlaCar acquires largest European rival, Founders Forum Smart Nation launches in Singapore, co-hosting with Steve Leonard and Dr Alex Lin

The Republic of Ireland votes to legalise gay marriage, the first country to do so by popular vote


Delivery Hero acquires Turkish food delivery giant Yemeksepti for $589m

Sepp Blatter announces intention to resign as FIFA president, while reportedly under investigation by the FBI


Founders Forum launches Founders Factory launches Softbank purchases Supercell shares – reaching 73.2 per cent ownership Parker Foundation launches

The Greek debt crisis escalates as Greece misses IMF payment



Individuals featured in this chapter

Yuri Milner announces the $100m Breakthrough Initiatives to reinvigorate the search for extraterrestrial intelligence Proteus Digital Health application for its “digital pill” accepted by US regulators BlaBlaCar raises a global expansion round of $200m

10 Years


Natalie Massenet

PUTTING FASHION RETAILING ON THE DIGITAL RUNWAY Natalie Massenet defied sceptics who said that women would never buy fashion online when she launched and built a global online business selling the products of the world’s leading designers to customers in over 170 countries →

In the early days of the internet, online retailing was believed to be for everyday products such as books, music and films. Few people thought that consumers would buy fashion from a website without being able to see it first and try it on. And it seemed unlikely that designers and brand owners would hand over their relationships with customers to online retailers which had already forced down prices for other products. But one entrepreneur had no doubt that time-poor, cash-rich women would be prepared to buy luxury fashion brands online so long as it offered the right service. Natalie Massenet had a career writing for well-known fashion magazines and was researching shots at Tatler UK when she found herself thinking that the fashion industry was missing a trick. “Why weren’t the items in the shoot immediately available to buy?” she asked. “Why couldn’t the magazine exist online and be instantly shoppable? Because I was well placed in the industry, I could see what would work and understood what the customer wanted. I also knew how technology could be used to that advantage.” So she set up Net-a-Porter, a high-fashion retailer that launched in 2000 and operated via a website designed like a magazine. It became the world’s premier luxury fashion retailer, selling the products of over 650 of the world’s leading designers and delivering them to customers around the globe. The Net-a-Porter Group came full circle with the launch in 2014 of Porter magazine, a publication available in 60 countries that is entirely shoppable. “It felt like the completion of something extraordinary,” says Massenet, “an idea that started 15 years ago.” Born in Los Angeles, her father was journalist and her mother had modelled for Chanel. She was educated in Paris and LA and dabbled in modelling, production and styling after graduating. She worked in Hollywood where she learned what she describes as very valuable life skills in the film industry, before going into magazines where she saw both sides of the fashion industry – trade and consumer.

Only at Founders Forum Natalie Massenet launches Mr Porter by giving 100 guests at Founders Forum London £1,000 each to spend on Mr Porter, and has the orders delivered the next morning to The Grove

Net-a-Porter was not her first idea for a business, though when she had explored previous ideas with more experienced friends and advisers, they had talked her out of them. But over the years, she realised that her instincts were good, so when the idea of Net-a-Porter came to her, she decided to trust them and go for it. “What did I have to lose? Just because something doesn’t exist doesn’t mean it won’t work. And we were profitable very early on – our growth was extraordinary. I felt like we would succeed from the moment we received our first order.” There were hurdles to jump before the first order was fulfilled, however, especially raising finance. “People did not think that ↳

Founders Forum


10 Years


What excites you most about Europe?

women would ever buy designer clothes online. So we raised money from friends, family and some very forward-thinking investors, including Carmen Busquets, the Venezuelan fashion entrepreneur who became a director.”

“Starting and growing a business in Europe gives you a head start in the race to achieve global reach because a cross-border approach to doing business must be inherent in your set up. The proximity to new markets with differing languages and consumer profiles forces companies to think globally from the very start.” – Natalie Massenet

Designers were sceptical, too. When she met them, they would be interested until she told them there was no bricks-and-mortar shop. But slowly they were won over and in 2004, the website won Best Fashion Shop at the British Fashion Awards. “There were a few amazing people like Anya Hindmarch and Tamara Mellon at Jimmy Choo who believed in us from the start, but it took a long time to convince many brands to sell to us. However, we eventually grew to a point where our brands could see that when we launched products, it actually drove customers to their stores as well as to our site.” She attributes the success of Net-a-Porter to three factors: customer service, customer service and customer service. The online content is refreshed with new products three times a week. Orders arrive beautifully packaged, with same-day delivery in London and Manhattan and express shipping to 172 countries. A dedicated customer care team speaking 22 languages is available around the clock. Returns and exchanges are free. Massenet did not rest on her laurels. “We always responded to customer demand. When she wanted to shop the previous season’s fashions, we launched The Outnet in 2009. After men asked when would it be their turn, we launched Mr Porter in 2011. Beauty products were included as a new category on Net-a-Porter in 2013. And in 2014, we introduced Net-a-Sporter, a mixture of accessible and luxury sportswear for women. “We never launched something by sticking our finger in the air and wondering if it would work,” she adds. “We were defined by our customers, and giving them the very best experience across all media was our primary focus.” In 2010, Net-a-Porter was snapped up by Richemont, the international luxury retail group, in a deal that valued it at £350m. With Massenet remaining executive chairman, it continued to grow, and by 2015 was employing more than 2,500 people in the UK, US, Hong Kong and Shanghai. The websites were attracting over nine million visitors a month and connecting with over 4.5 million social fans and followers. Much admired throughout the fashion industry, Massenet became chairman of the British Fashion Council in 2013. Her mission is to highlight the extraordinary work of an industry that contributes £26bn a year to the UK economy – twice as much as the car industry. “I see our job as helping future-proof our incredible industry and providing a platform for the creatives at its heart to become global players and build long-term sustainable businesses.”

Career facts 2000: Net-a-Porter launches 2004: Net-a-Porter wins Best Fashion Shop at the British Fashion Awards 2010: Richemont purchases Net-a-Porter 2011: Mr Porter launches 2015: Net-a-Porter merges with Yoox

In March 2015, Richemont announced that it had agreed a merger between Net-a-Porter and Yoox, an Italian online luxury retailer, to create the world’s largest online retailer focused on luxury brands. Following the completion of the merger in September 2015, Massenet stepped down as executive chairman of Net-a-Porter, saying that it was the right time for her to move on and explore new ideas and opportunities. “The business I started in 2000 could not be in better shape,” she said. “My entrepreneurial drive is as strong today as it always has been, and my passion for innovation will continue to be my greatest guide in business.”_


Stefan von Holtzbrinck

Founders Forum



The CEO of the Holtzbrinck Publishing Group reflects on scientific progress and mastering Pong ↓ In a tweet, describe what you do. Always preparing for the future with a fair look to the past, while trying to be truthful in present times. What was your biggest break? I broke my leg once when I was six (ouch). Who had the biggest influence in your career? My history teacher who taught me dialectics and Nicky Byam Shaw who ran Macmillan for over 30 years and taught me how to apply it in publishing with style. Which is the achievement you are most proud of? My problems with this proud question aside: not having lost the ability to change and to take chances.

Can we have five (okay seven) words of advice for the next generation of entrepreneurs? If you are truly smart, worry later. If there was no internet, what would you have done? It would have been an easy, undisrupted dream, printing on and on… Elon Musk says artificial intelligence is probably our “biggest existential threat”. Do you agree or disagree? With the hard to believe option of extra-terrestrial intelligence aside, only mankind is – despite all its beautiful capabilities – a threat to itself. What’s the biggest downside to technology? As a believer in scientific progress, there is no downside, except when societies become too complacent when redefining their constituting principles (ie, distribution of work and wealth) or when specifying the necessary limitation of its use (ie, weapons, dissolution of privacy). Is there such a thing as a work-life balance? Being out of balance is not good for anyone. We gladly still work to live, with stress as a positive force, sleep as a necessary brain detox and families and societal cohesion as essential ingredients for general well-being. What’s the most frustrating aspect of being an entrepreneur operating in Europe? It is still much better than most places, but looking up at the US opportunities regarding digital entrepreneurship continues to cause unpleasant neck ache.

How much money is too much money? With income levels of over $75,000 per annum wealth-induced happiness declines rapidly. This scientific evidence should be married with a vaccine of “the grass is not greener on the other side”. What’s your favourite app? The sunshine-only weather app. Android or iOS? Why choose, competition is good. CD or MP3? Give well-sorted record stores a chance. Your Wikipedia entry: fact or fiction? It’s both – as deception and self-deception are inseparable and today is different from yesterday. What was the last book you read for pleasure? All That Is James Salter. What was the last CD you bought/track you downloaded? Last week, I got a CD of Renato Carosone, who deserves to be rediscovered beyond “Tu Vuo’ Fa’ L’americano.” What was the make and model of the first mobile phone you owned? I remember, it was a Nokia – happy story, unhappy brand ending. What was your favourite video game growing up? With the danger of being excluded from this Q&A: the Pong game – I somewhat learned to manage it. What is your favourite European city? I worry there are only just a few places left that are “so crowded that nobody goes there any more” (Yogi Berra). When you can’t sleep at night, what do you do? I pretend to sleep and fail, while walking over the same questions again and again. Is there a God? This is, in the end, a truly personal question – which, beyond belief, I will answer as soon as I have met him/her.

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What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made in your career? Not knowing my limitations with respect to knowing customers’ needs – a trap that appears subtly and suddenly. I first experienced it myself when consumer CD-ROM got hot in the early ’90s.

What’s the most overrated technology or technology trend? Mainframe, BetaMax, Netscape, Napster – has there really been one?

Founders Forum


Eben Upton Co-Founder: Raspberry Pi Foundation The makers of the Raspberry Pi describes it simply as “a tiny and affordable computer”. The idea to create a computer designed for experimentation and learning came after Upton and his co-founders realised there was a lack of basic programming knowledge among students applying for computer science degrees at Cambridge University. Upton, who coded as a ten-year-old on a cheap computer, realised that technological advances meant children could no longer enjoy such luxuries. Instead, they had to use slick machines that did not encourage experimentation. And so the Raspberry Pi was born. The Raspberry Pi Foundation released the first device in 2012 and since then nearly seven million units have been sold. With no sign of slowing down, the Raspberry Pi Foundation wants to see affordable, programmable computers everywhere. What excites you most about Europe? “What excites me most about Europe is that in the last few years it has become a great place to actually build physical stuff. There are a bunch of secular trends in wages, exchange rates and energy costs that have undermined the idea that manufacturers need to go offshore to be competitive.”

Frédéric Mazzella Founder and CEO: BlaBlaCar After recent purchases of top European competitors (including Germany’s, BlaBlaCar is now Europe’s leading ride-share start-up, with 20 million members and counting. A platform for passengers to find affordable transport and drivers to share their costs, BlaBlaCar is a prime example of the sharing economy benefiting consumers and in this case the environment too – it estimates more than a million tonnes of CO2 have been saved so far. Much of BlaBlaCar’s success is credited to co-founder Mazzella, who persisted with his idea for ten years after finding himself in need of transport home on a Christmas evening in 2003. As BlaBlaCar states on its website, Mazzella’s vision is powered by “the full potential of a peer-to-peer transport network, and the huge environmental and economic benefits of enabling a more efficient use of existing resources.” What excites you most about Europe “I love the breadth of Europe’s diversity – numerous languages, cultures and consumer habits provide a challenging but enriching breeding ground for start-ups in international expansion.”

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Michael Birch Co-founder and CEO: Bebo Once the most popular social networking site in the UK, with over 45 million users in 2007, Bebo was co-founded by Birch and his wife, Xochi. They sold the company to AOL in 2008 for $850m, buying it back five years later for $1m, and relaunching it in January 2015. Of the repurchase, Birch admitted to the Guardian, “There was some sentimentality in the decision. It was too hard to resist.” With his San Francisco-based incubator Monkey Inferno having worked on Bebo’s revamp prior to its January launch, Birch is looking forward to taking on Facebook again, tweeting after the acquisition, “Can we actually reinvent it? Who knows, but it will be fun trying.” Why would you invest in Europe now? “Costs are typically substantially lower than the United States in both salaries and office rents. Educational standards are high, providing a steady stream of new talent. The culture is slowly changing to be more entrepreneurial right out of college. Well-defined tech hubs are establishing in places such as east London and Berlin, and investors have less competition with other investors.”

Andrew Thompson Co-founder and CEO: Proteus Digital Health With three Masters degrees in engineering, education and business under his belt, Andrew Thompson consistently champions the power of digital technology in improving lives. The WHO estimates 50 per cent of prescribed medication is not taken as directed, resulting in unnecessary escalation of conditions and therapies and higher costs to health systems. As co-founder and CEO of Proteus Digital Health, Thompson is addressing this issue with a microscopic, FDA-cleared ingestible computer that enables your medicines to talk to your mobile phone, creating a user experience that activates patients and their carers. Another issue Thompson is passionate about is education. ACT estimates that as few as 30 per cent of American high school graduates are ready for entry-level college classes. As co-founder and board member at Summit Schools, Thompson has helped create a digital platform for public education that dramatically improves student engagement and learning outcomes. What excites you most about Europe? “The people who live there. Europe’s citizens represent an enormous potential for innovation that can lead to social and economic progress. A key challenge is to build the institutions that can unleash this potential. For me that means shrinking government and the attendant bureaucracy. European people need more freedom.”



Silicon Valley’s finest – Facebook, Google, LinkedIn and Uber – join EU commissioner Andrus Ansip, freuds’ Matthew Freud and Founders Forum’s Henry Lane Fox to cast their eyes over Europe, past, present and future

Founders Forum


Travis Kalanick


While I never knew what it meant to be an entrepreneur, I guess that’s what I’ve always been, starting as a freshman at college. So for this tenth-anniversary celebration of Founders Forum, I thought it would be fun to look at the traits that make an entrepreneur →

The first is purpose. It’s about why you are here and what you believe in. It’s about being passionate. Uber’s mission is to “make transportation as reliable as running water, everywhere for everyone”. It’s very straight forward. That’s what we do every day. For Spotify it’s about enabling people to access all the music they want, all the time. Again it’s very straightforward. The second trait is the ability to make magic. Think about Airbnb. Today you can find an amazing house somewhere in the world and stay there. Something you would never find otherwise, and something that changes your experience every time you travel. Of course, if you make something that’s inspiring, others can copy it. The danger is that it loses its magic as a result. The answer is to do the hard things that are difficult to replicate. What Uber has to do is to make sure there’s a car five minutes away wherever you are in the world. That means predicting demand ahead of time, before people have even opened the app. Thirdly, entrepreneurs need to be good at understanding the difference between perception and reality. Perception is what most of the world thinks is true. Reality is what’s actually true. Sometimes they’re the same, like the answer to two plus two. But there’s a whole host of questions where people think they know the truth – and the reality is actually different. Entrepreneurs get that and actively look for those gaps. In fact the bigger the distance between perception and reality, the greater the opportunity. This is what makes innovation disruptive because you’re going against the conventional wisdom,or perceptions of conventional wisdom. Beyond great ideas and creativity, there has to be an appreciation of business hustle. That’s the fourth trait. You’ve got to be able to bring something to market. You have to find a way to make sure that when people love a product they share it. Lastly, there’s what I call the champion’s mindset. This is about overcoming adversity. Think of our sports stars and the success they have. But real champions in life are people who, when confronted with adversity, get back up and put everything they have into getting to the finish line. I’ve been an entrepreneur for 20 years, and most of that time I was failing. You have to believe in your purpose and enjoy every moment. Because you are not a failure if you keep getting back up. And then I think about combining these entrepreneurial traits with progressive government so we can bring positive change in the world. At Uber one of our core cultural values is to celebrate cities. Everything we do is to make cities better. How? Well, when you push a button and a car comes, instead of 30 people owning 30 cars, you have one car that’s serving them all.

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“You are not a failure if you keep getting back up” Travis Kalanick Uber

Travis Kalanick Co-founder of the peer-to-peer file sharing company Red Swoosh and the transportation network company Uber


And then there is UberPOOL, so when you push the button and the car comes, there’s somebody else already in it because they’re taking the same trip at exactly the same time. And now you’re taking two people that would have been in two separate cars, and they’re in one car. That’s how we can start to develop the smart cities of the future, where there is less traffic, less need for parking and people can get from A to B quickly and easily._

Founders Forum


“Beyond great ideas there has to be an appreciation of business hustle� Travis Kalanick Founder, Uber

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“Silicon Valley is no longer the only place to be if you want to succeed in tech� Matt Brittin Vice-president Europe, Google

Founders Forum


Matt Brittin


If Europe continues to succeed despite all its challenges, we should be confident, not cautious, about the years ahead →

When you look at Europe’s economy over the last decade, it’s all too easy to see the dark clouds. While younger economies on other continents surge ahead, Europe seems beset with problems. This gloom is misplaced. Through my work at Google I see another, far more optimistic, side of the story. There’s a mountain of evidence that the entrepreneurial spirit is very much alive and kicking across the continent. The web is levelling the playing field for anyone looking to build and grow business to thrive. Let’s start with the data. In London, investment in tech start-ups in 2014 was double the level of the previous year. In Berlin, it was up 140 per cent. In Madrid it was up 187 per cent. And look at the popularity produced by all this energy, innovation and creativity. Candy Crush was the most downloaded gaming app on Google Play last year, and it came from a British firm. The top-grossing game for iPhones and iPads was Clash of the Clans from Helsinki. Spotify, like Skype, came out of Sweden. The biggest YouTuber in the world, PewDiePie, is from Sweden and based in the UK. European channels received around a quarter of YouTube’s global watch time and businesses here are growing and thriving alongside the YouTube stars who are redefining popular culture. Across the continent, we are seeing vibrant tech hubs nurturing innovation and incubating global success stories. Silicon Valley is no longer the only place to be if you want to succeed in tech. And it is not just in the tech sector where we see this success – every business is a digital business. Companies across Europe are seizing the opportunities that the internet is providing to grow their businesses. Happy Socks – another bright idea from Sweden – has grown in six years to cheer up its customers not just across Europe but also in Japan, Australia and the US, with a presence in over 6,000 global stores. The web is proving an incredibly powerful engine for growth. Today, anyone can be a global player – all they need is an idea. People from all over the world, at any age or skill set, can use the web to start a new business, find partners or connect with customers wherever they are. In the past, only the biggest businesses had access to global marketing, distribution, talent and to the best technology; today every business has the opportunity to use all of these. This is giving rise to the “micro-multinational”, a company that has only a few employees but generates enormous growth by serving customers around the world. There is a great deal more to do to get all businesses online. Google and many other organisations are working hard to equip them with skills to take advantage of the web’s potential.

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Is there more that policymakers can do to help? There always is. A true single digital market – already one of the European Commission’s goals – would be a big step in the right direction. It helps no one if companies still have to struggle with the different demands of national regulatory systems. It remains hard, in some places, for start-ups to get lift-off because of investment challenges. There is also a need for additional incentives to encourage start-ups. A lack of digital, engineering and technical skills remains a major barrier. The European Commission estimates that there will be more than 800,000 unfilled digital job vacancies by 2020 if we don’t close the skills gap – which is something else we’re working on, via our commitment earlier this year to train one million people in Europe in crucial digital skills by 2016. The good news is that none of the problems of the last decade have discouraged those with ideas and energy. And if they can succeed despite all the challenges, we should be confident, not cautious, about the years ahead._

Matt Brittin President, EMEA business and operations and vice president, Europe – northern and central, Google

Founders Forum


David Marcus


Europe has a long, proud tradition as an engine of innovation. It is, after all, the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, which kickstarted massive global growth in prosperity and living standards. And yet there remains considerable anxiety about Europe’s role as innovator and wealth creator in the 21st century →

I started three companies in Europe before moving to the United States. Having spent time leading PayPal – a global business from Silicon Valley with a significant business in Europe – I moved over to Facebook to lead Messenger, which is one of Europe’s most popular apps. With experience on both sides of Atlantic, I’ve identified three key differences between the two continents. First, entrepreneurship has contrasting cultural underpinnings. In Europe, the Industrial Revolution was financed largely through banks and infrastructure was state-funded. This meant that in most of Europe, there was little exposure to venture capital. The result? A more risk-averse culture. When Europeans borrowed money it was from a financial institution or the government. If they failed to repay a loan, they’d be treated as deadbeats who couldn’t be trusted. The US, by contrast, benefited from an influx of the most entrepreneurial-minded Europeans for whom capitalism and investment were king. It made it easier to raise capital and service debt – and failure didn’t signal the end of a dream. Secondly, consider the differences in size, culture, legal processes and regulatory set-up. The US market is huge. It has 320 million consumers, plenty (potentially too much) of available credit, one language and, more or less, one regulatory framework. By population, the US is the equivalent of half a dozen European countries without the handicap of six separate cultures, six languages and often – depending on the success of harmonisation efforts – six differing regulatory regimes. Thirdly, Americans have a far more meritocratic attitude to innovation, treating all solutions to problems equally regardless of where they come from. Not for Americans, the influence of the old school tie or the pressures of class. None of this is to say that innovation doesn’t exist in Europe or that entrepreneurs in Europe are less worthy than their US-based counterparts. On the contrary, if you can make it big there, you can make it anywhere. Countries that have the smallest home markets, forcing founders to look outwards, produce great entrepreneurs. Think of Sweden and its slew of phenomenal companies like Skype, King, Spotify and Klarna. Think of the ecosystem that came out of the ground in Berlin in the last decade and that’s producing a healthy stream of successful start-ups. Think of London, which has produced numerous billion-dollar start-ups in the last ten years. Think of what is happening in France under the leadership of Xavier Niel, the founder of the €12bn telecom powerhouse Iliad, who is now giving back by using unconventional

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methods to educate the next generation. These efforts include a tuition-free school, dubbed 42, which ignores all education grades and school levels, liberating people from their past and granting them free tuition if they can pass rigorous, but egalitarian, tests. Despite Europe’s conservative, risk-averse, capital-restricted environment – its cultural diversity and complicated regulatory framework – companies do succeed and innovate. One must wonder how it would prosper if ideal conditions prevailed. If, instead of wanting to intervene, European governments focused on removing barriers to innovation and sought to get out of the way as much as possible, Europe would accelerate its innovation and increase its overall contribution to the world. This requires European-wide regulation for technology companies. It means countering protectionist tendencies and encouraging European-entrepreneurs, including myself, to build and innovate in a more open environment. Only with an open, digital single market will entrepreneurs dare to dream that the next-generation technology companies can grow to full fruition in Europe._

“If you can make it big in Europe, you can make it anywhere” David Marcus Facebook

David Marcus Vice president of messaging products, Facebook

Founders Forum


Reid Hoffman


With the right framework to promote a stronger and more fluid talent network, Europe could rival Silicon Valley and China →

It’s become common wisdom around the world, including Europe, to believe that promoting start-ups can bring innovation and economic impact. This belief is true but incomplete. Start-ups alone cannot create enough jobs or wealth to satisfy the world’s need for growth. Most value creation takes place not at the start-up phase, when new companies are formed, but at the “scale-up” phase, when a select number of these companies grow at dizzying pace. This growth is so rapid that I believe it deserves a new term to describe it: blitzscaling. While the term blitzscaling evokes uncomfortable memories of World War II – “blitzkrieg” – the parallels of warfare technique to success in the modern global business world are important enough to draw the parallels. Namely, successful modern businesses moving from start-up to scale-up require both a simpler supply chain infrastructure and an organisation focused on speed and adaptability. Over the past decade, the majority of these scale-ups have blitzscaled in the fertile ecosystems of just two regions: Silicon Valley and key cities in China. While these regions are incredibly different, both offer the two key ingredients in blitzscaling: densely interconnected networks of talent and capital. Of these two ingredients, talent tends to be the bottleneck. The globalisation of finance means that capital flows swiftly through the network. Asian capital flows to Europe and the United States, and vice versa. If a scale-up achieves traction, it can raise growth capital regardless of geography. On the other hand, key talent remains stubbornly local during scaling. You can’t just wire a brilliant chief technology officer or vice president of marketing from one region to another. My colleague at Greylock Partners, John Lilly, was on the board of the New York social media start-up Tumblr, which found it difficult to recruit the necessary senior talent. For these key positions New York offered only a tiny number of candidates whereas a similar search in Silicon Valley would have yielded many more options. To support blitzscaling, Europe needs a more fluid network of talent. When policy makers talk about labour market mobility, it’s often interpreted as the freedom for employers to fire employees to save costs. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the freedom for skilled talent to move to the opportunities that create the most value. As companies blitzscale, the skills they need from their employees change. A 50-person company needs different skills than a 500-person company or a 5,000-person company. In Silicon Valley, the density and fluidity of the talent network allows individuals to specialise in certain stages of growth. A vice president of sales might

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“The more fluid and powerful the talent network, the more it becomes a talent magnet” Reid Hoffman LinkedIn


specialise in growing companies from $1 to $10m in revenues, and then move on to do the same at another scale-up. For a talent network, you need the people, the network of communications and an adaptive employment framework. Europe has talented people: they may need more on-the-job experience. For a network of communications, there is LinkedIn and other services. However, an adaptive employment framework still has very uneven adoption. In my book The Alliance I described one adaptive employment framework as a “Transformational Tour of Duty”. The employee transforms the company’s business and the company helps transform the employee’s career. Both sides benefit from making and keeping a mutual commitment even if that commitment is only for a couple of years. The fluidity that “The Alliance” brings can benefit an entire ecosystem. When employees with blitzscaling experience move from opportunity to opportunity, they spread their knowledge of how to scale to their new employers. Otherwise, every scale-up would have to learn the hard lessons of growth from scratch, over and over. Being part of a dense and fluid talent network also makes scale-ups more comfortable with hiring people for different stages, rather than searching for the one person who could scale from being part of a five-person team to a 50,000-person team. Simply having the talent isn’t enough. That talent has to be integrated into dense network that can connect it to the best opportunities (with an emphasis on those of the right stage of scaling). The more fluid and powerful the talent network, the more it becomes a talent magnet as well, drawing great people from around the world as Silicon Valley has done. Europe has incredible resources to support blitzscaling, including great universities to produce quality talent, a massive common market, and a host of experienced investors that can provide growth capital. With the right talent framework to promote a stronger, more fluid talent network, it could rival Silicon Valley and China in its ability to blitzscale its start-ups into scale-ups._

Reid Hoffman Internet entrepreneur, venture capitalist, author and co-founder of LinkedIn

Founders Forum


Andrus Ansip


Europe is producing billion-dollar companies at a rate faster than ever before and putting some of the continent’s smaller – and newer – nations on the digital map →

In a little more than a decade Estonia has become one of the most wired nations in the world, with one of the most advanced e-societies anywhere. Technology has become an essential part of life for a population that lives first and foremost online. It is not for nothing that the country is sometimes known as “e-Estonia” as a tribute to its drive towards digitalisation. Digital technology helped us to rebuild Estonia into an open and fair society after it regained independence in 1991. Sometimes, not having a legacy can be an advantage. In Estonia’s case, it meant we could avoid expensive and clunky transitions from traditional systems. We could go digital almost directly, building from the ground up. Today, Estonians have fully embraced the digital world, taking to public and private online services with enthusiasm. Most people cannot imagine doing things the old-fashioned way. Almost nobody files their taxes on paper or by post any longer because it just takes a few minutes to do this online. In 2005, Estonia was the first country to hold an election where people could cast an e-vote. A decade on, in February 2015, the number of Estonians who voted online in parliamentary elections rose to a record one-third of those who voted. Every Estonian citizen now has an online ID card, which contains their biometric information as well as digital signing capabilities, now considered equivalent to hand-written signatures. No more wasting reams of paper or travelling to an office to sign a contract. The system is secure and simple. Since it has a unique ID methodology that works across all sectors, Estonians can access thousands of services, from banks to hospitals. It is much more than simply a legal photo ID; it is the digital access card for all of Estonia’s secure e-services. And we have not looked back. The opposite, in fact: Estonians clearly see the advantages of a true e-society. Since its introduction, the digital signature has been used more than 200 million times. The many successes of e-Estonia have brought an unprecedented level of transparency and accessibility to public services, as well as major improvements in health and education services, because people can now access these and other social services much more easily. Estonians see their country’s digital services as the standard and easiest way of interacting with the government and local companies. Not only is it quicker, it also means a lot less paperwork. Now, thanks to the e-residency system, foreigners can also benefit from Estonian public services and easily create a start-up based in the country. The e-Estonia philosophy goes wider and deeper, of course. It is not only about cutting costs, bureaucracy and improving service delivery. It also has a great deal to do with trust: not only in the digital tools and online networks that are the basis for e-services, but also in a

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transparent system of accountable government to which people have easy access. In turn, this creates a connected and inclusive society. Open and digital governments can help to rebuild people’s trust in public administrations, especially if their lives are being made easier at the same time. E-government tools allow for greater transparency and accountability of public administration. I believe they also encourage public participation in policy making. The core philosophy of e-Estonia, which I would like to see other European countries take on, is about creating value – and using innovation to do so. Firstly, monetary value in actual cash savings, for everyone, people, businesses, the state. In Estonia, we estimate that the economy saves one working week every year just by using digital signatures for public and private transactions. But far more important is the social value that we derive from applying digital technology where and when it is needed, in creating a true e-society. Above all, it is about people – creating a society where people can spend less of their time on administration and more on what they want in, and for, their daily lives. It is also about entrepreneurship – creating an environment in which founders are welcome, can disrupt and flourish, can start all over if necessary, can build their businesses on a state-of-the-art digital environment supported by the public. With a warm cheers to Founders Forum._

Andrus Ansip Vice-president for the Digital Single Market at the European Commission, previously prime minister of Estonia from 2005 to 2014

Founders Forum

Matthew Freud



10 Years


Once there was philanthropy that was about giving away money. The rich world gave to the poor world with a bit of encouragement from Bob Geldof.

The better off gave modestly to help the worse off. Companies supported charities, usually those selected by the chairman’s wife. It was about sleeping better at night. At worst it was about buying absolution, at best about recognition that humans are better off when they help each other

But it didn’t fundamentally change human behaviour. Individuals and firms still behaved ruthlessly and thoughtlessly in the pursuit of profit above all else, then gave back some of the proceeds to the society they had ignored while acquiring them. There were always some companies, some individuals, who behaved differently. These were often family firms, because they had the luxury of looking to the long term. Like the Quakers who founded Cadbury and cared deeply for their workforce and left a legacy that has only recently succumbed to the relentless march of Adam Smith. Or Forrest Mars, an American who founded an extraordinary chocolate company, who left his heirs and successors a short note exhorting them to practice the principle of mutuality, to do their best to ensure that customers, employees and suppliers all benefited from working with Mars. These businesses often prospered in the long term because it turned out that decency was not incompatible with profits. In fact benefiting society often turned out to be an exceptionally cunning long-term business strategy. But it’s only recently that shareholder-owned businesses have come to the same recognition of the benefit of what we at freuds call enlightened self interest, that we can do well by doing good. When Paul Polman became chief executive of Unilever in 2009, he abandoned quarterly reporting and put sustainability and purpose at the heart of his brand marketing. He’s delivered financial social and environmental success for his investors but also the societies Unilever operates in. I’ve been part of Founders Forum since the beginning. We have always understood, as an unlikely collection of dysfunctional but unselfish individuals, the need for philanthropy. This has driven both the conference content and the creation of the Founders Pledge to giving a minimum of 2 per cent of earnings at exit to social causes. Increasingly, however, I believe the firms that are most admired at the Founders Forum meetings, and the most successful, are those with a purpose beyond profit at their heart. Help others and you will help yourself._ Matthew Freud Chairman of freuds

Founders Forum


Henry Lane Fox


As Europe’s tech ecosystem has continued to grow and thrive over the past few years, our own journey at Founders Forum reveals some of the underlying trends that have made London a key city in the European digital scene →

When Brent and Jonnie first asked me to join Founders Forum three years ago, there were four of us sitting in a small office in central London. Now we are a full-time team of over 30, and we operate several interconnected but distinct businesses, beyond our flagship events. These are: Founders Intelligence: For the past two years, Founders Intelligence has been acting as trusted adviser to a number of European corporates, helping them to effect digital transformation programmes, evaluate specific technologies and work in partnership with start-ups. The underlying trend here is one of large businesses recognising that the speed, agility, creativity and risk-taking central to start-ups can benefit larger organisations and help them to test the delivery of new products and services faster and more efficiently. There has been a sea change in the number of CEOs who want to know how best to work with start-ups and how to transform their businesses to be digital first. Our client list now includes News Corp, GSK, Unilever, Visa, Tesco, Sky and many other sector leaders. The opportunity for large businesses to help start-ups find product/ market fit, grow initial audiences and secure funding shows no sign of abating. Next up is for European corporates to begin to acquire leading technology start-ups and provide a wider range of exit possibilities beyond the recognised tech giants. Founders Keepers: Eighteen months ago, we decided to launch Founders Keepers – a specialist executive search business focused on digital. As the number of home-grown European start-ups has expanded alongside leading US start-ups that are increasingly turning their attention to Europe, the battle for talent has become fierce. We understand how hiring the best can change a start-up’s fortunes, and feel that we are uniquely well placed to locate and evaluate the upcoming stars and key hires who can help to scale the most ambitious start-ups. The variety of businesses turning to Founders Keepers – from Maker Studios to Condé Nast, Wayfair to GetYourGuide – has surprised us, but also highlighted the need for specialist digital talent. Founders Factory: Recently we have launched a major new project, Founders Factory – a cross-sector, corporate-backed incubator here in London. Our ambition for Founders Factory is simple – to build a world-class vehicle that can support the most talented and ambitious entrepreneurs as they embark on their start-up journeys. To do this, we are leveraging something that London has in greater abundance than any other city – a proliferation of global corporate headquarters. It is our strong belief that the right connections to, and ways of working with, top corporates can fast-track the success of early-stage businesses. Coupling this with access to smart capital,

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“We look forward to working with more world-class entrepreneurs and organisations” Henry Lane Fox Founders Forum

visionary mentors and 24/7 support from a hugely experienced team has let us start to deliver on our ambitious vision for Founders Factory. Founders Forum For Good: The philanthropic arm of Founders Forum concentrates on the Founders Pledge – a way for entrepreneurs to codify their future charitable giving, making a public commitment to donate a percentage of their earnings to charity. The Founders Pledge has received commitments from over 150 entrepreneurs, including established names such as José Neves of Farfetch and Damian Kimmelman of Duedil, alongside rising stars such as Ed Rex at Jukedeck and Rand Hindi of Snips. In years to come we look forward to working with more world-class entrepreneurs and organisations as they seek to deliver the next generation of break-out European successes. Perhaps in another ten years we will be able to tell the story of numerous European start‑ups that have gone on to acquire Silicon Valley rivals rather than the other way round. And if Founders Forum can have contributed to their successes even in some small way, we will feel enormously privileged._

Henry Lane Fox Co-founder and CEO at Founders Factory, partner at Founders Forum

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A selection of the hundreds of entrepreneurs, business leaders, politicians and others who have attended Founders Forum events over the last ten years

Founders Forum



Sir Peter Bazalgette Ethan Beard

Roshan Abbas

Benjamin Bejbaum

Nora Abousteit

Demian Bellumio

Iain Abrahams

Driss Ben-Brahim

Eric Acher

Jonathan Benassaya

Michael Acton Smith


François-Henri Bennahmias

Niklas Adalberth

Micha Benoliel

Chase Adam

Jochen Berger

Heinrich Adami

Josh Berger

Camille Agon

Nicolas Berggruen

Ola Ahlvarsson

Jay Bergman

Ajaz Ahmed

Matteo Berlucchi

Jessica Alba

Luigi Berlusconi

Dame Helen Alexander

Sir Tim Berners-Lee

James Alexander

Andreas Bernstrom

Max Alexander

Vikrant Bhargava

Lord Alli

Nish Bhutani

Jake Anderson

Michael Birch

Andrey Andreev

Xochi Birch

Giles Andrews

Constantin Bisanz p196

Constantin Bjerke

Marcus Anzengruber

Thor Bjorgolfsson

Patrick Arippol

James Blunt Andreas Bodczek

Martin Armstrong Nikesh Arora

p167 p57

Stan Boland Alexis Bonte

Luca Ascani Alexander Asseily

Lorenz Bogaert Leonid Boguslavsky

Michael Arrington Peter Arvai


Chris Boos

Mark Asseily

Rodrigo Borges

Hovhannes Avoyan

John Borthwick

Nevzat Aydin

Graham Bosher



Seb Bishop

Rogan Angelini-Hurll Andrus Ansip



Ana Botín


Rachel Botsman


Steve Bottomley

Gilles Babinet

Adrian Bowyer

Kai Backman

Mike Bracken

Harish Bahl

Hein Brand

Kunal Bahl

Sir Richard Branson

Eric Baker

Sam Branson

Adam Balon

Michael Breidenbruecker

Jim Balsillie

Matt Brittin

Ab Banerjee

Michael Brockhaus

Mukesh Bansal

Jeff Brody

Sam Barnett

Emily Brooke

Ben Barokas

Edgar Bronfman Jr

Amb Matthew W. Barzun

Yonca Brunini

Lars Batista

Gaurav Burman

Raimund Bau

Jeff Bussgang

Bryan Baum

Mike Butcher



10 Years

David Buttress


In Names


Errol Damelin Caroline Daniel Pierre Danon Mike Danson

Alain Caffi

Tim Davie

Pascal Cagni

Fred Davis

Efe Cakarel

Zohar Dayan

Simon Calver

Juliet de Baubigny

HRH The Duchess of Cambridge

Jacob de Geer

The Rt Hon David Cameron MP

Elisabet de los Pinos

Lucas Carne

Arnon de Mello

Mark Carney

Marco de Mello

Andrew Carroll

Yann de Vries

Ryan Carson

Matt Deacon Philip DeBevoise

Max Cartellieri Steve Case


Robert Delamere

Liam Casey

Russell DeLeon

Ginevra Castellano

Fritz Demopoulos

Alex Ceballos

Zaryn Dentzel

Rory Cellan-Jones

Alex Depledge

Sandi Cesko

Samir Desai

Lopo Champalimaud

Fred Destin

Aaron Chatterley

Iain Dodsworth

Sam Chaudhary

Dixon Doll

Nicolas Chavanne

Christina Domecq Angus Donaldson

Sir Ian Cheshire Alex Chesterman



Jamie Drummond

Alexandra Chong

Jason Drummond

Jean-Christophe Chopin

Taso Du Val

Craig Ciesla

Peter Dubens

Jeremy Clarkson

Bastien Duclaux

Jeff Clavier

HRH The Duke of York

David Cleevely CBE FREng FIET

Edwina Dunn

Dan Cobley

Ronan Dunne

Vittorio Colao

Sir Charles Dunstone


Lily Cole

Pavel Durov


Jeremy Coller


James Collier Scott Collins Michael Comish Sam Conniff


John Earner

Graham Cooke

Marcus East

Toby Coppel

Ariel Eckstein

Jacqueline Corbelli

Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson

Frederic Court

Dror Efrat

Sherry Coutu

Kevin Efrusy

Nancy Cruickshank

Daniel Ek


Brian Elliott Louise Eriksson ↓

Mark Esiri

Gianluca D’Agostino

Ale Estrada

Nick D’Aloisio

Nick Evans-Lombe


Founders Forum


Robyn Exton

Jacques-Antoine Granjon


Serge Grimaux Fabrice Grinda

John Fallon

Olivier Grinda

Eric Fellner

Federico Grosso

Lex Fenwick

Desiree Gruber

Jose Ferreira

Stefano Guidotti

Jenny Fielding

Nicky Gumbel

Ariel Finkelstein

James Gutierrez

Andrew Fisher


Peter Gutman



Paul Fisher Marc Flamme Pete Flint

Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou

Simon Fox Matthew Freud


Erick Hachenburg

Scott Forbes p198

Jenny Halpern

Thor Fridriksson

Nick Halstead

Janus Friis

Oisin Hanrahan

Stephen Fry

Anil Hansjee

Markus Fuhrmann

Dido Harding

Prashant Fuloria

Lisa Harouni



Andrew Griffith


Tristia Harrison Kevin Hartz Mark Harvey


Peter Gabriel

Demis Hassabis

Lukasz Gadowski

Andreas Haug

Emi Gal

Hermann Hauser KBE CBE-

Anthony Gallippi


Vikram Gandhi

Chris Havemann

Krishnan Ganesh

Natasha Hazan

Thomas Gårdängen

Daniel Heaf

David Gardner

Davor Hebel

Nicolas Gautier

Fabian Heilemann

Nathalie Gaveau

Andrej Henkler

Maelle Gavet

Christian Hernandez

Rupert Gavin

Ashley Highfield

Will Gaybrick

Anya Hindmarch MBE

Carl Gaywood

Lars Hinrichs


Paul Gebhardt

Taavet Hinrikus


David Giampaolo

Alexa Hirschfeld

Marco Giberti

Daniel Hirschmann

Jason Gissing

Brent Hoberman CBE

Stefan Glänzer

Andy Hobsbawm

Rob Glaser

Julia Hobsbawm

Glenn Fogel

Thomas Hoegh

Anne Glover

Auren Hoffman

Amar Goel

Reid Hoffman Laura Hofmann

Jason Goldberg Jonathan Goodwin


Ian Hogarth

Chris Gorell Barnes

Courtney Holt

Chris Gorman OBE

Klaus Hommels




10 Years

In Names

Johnny Hornby

Katherine Keating

Razmig Hovaghimian

Jonathan Keeling

Alex Hoye

Pueo Keffer

Jacob Hsu

Alex Kelleher

ShaoLan Hsueh

Tim Kelsey

Grace Huang

Jonathan Kestenbaum

Arianna Huffington


Jemima Khan

Erik Huggers

Shakil Khan

Janice Hughes

Rasha Khawaja

Tom Hulme

Damian Kimmelman

Nick Hungerford

Peter Kingsley

John Hunt

David Kirkpatrick

Tom Hunter

Robin Klein

Chad Hurley

Saul Klein

Nikolaj Hviid

George Kliavkoff

Spencer Hyman

Dominik Kofert

Nick Hynes

Marty Kohn


Daphne Koller Matija Kopic Dmitry Korobkov

Takahito Iguchi


Haroldo Korte Pierre Kosciusko-Morizet


Adam Kostyál Jan Koum

Mihkel Jäätma

Kay Krafft

Jessica Jackley

Daniel Kraft

Will Jackson

Dr Jack Kreindler

Ankur Jain

Ynon Kreiz

Rajesh Jain

Tariq Krim

Leila Janah

Neelie Kroes

Jean-Michel Jarre

Aleks Krotoski

Chase Jarvis

Eric Kuhn

Virraj Jatania

Vinay Kumar

Nick Jenkins

Ashton Kutcher

Luke Johnson

Theodore Kyriakou

David Jones


Michael Jones Rt Hon Dame Tessa Jowell


Sami Lababidi

Paul Joyce

Roland Lamb

Nicole Junkermann



Thijn Lamers Henry Lane Fox

Baroness Lane-Fox of Soho p144

Travis Kalanick



Jason Langheier

Deep Kalra

Renaud Laplanche

Dina Kaplan

Tom Latchford

Philip Kaplan

Stan Laurent

Raj Kapoor

Ilja Laurs

Bindi Karia

Loïc Le Meur

Michael Kassan

Thibaud Lecuyer

Tom Katis

Rosemary Leith

Micha Kaufman

Steve Leonard

Founders Forum


Gigi Levy Weiss

Jim Mellon

Ning Li

Joao Mendes

Bernard Liautaud

Matthias Metternich

Rian Liebenberg

Celina Midelfart

Enrique Linares

Hiroshi Mikitani

Ian Livingstone

Th Marquess of Milford Haven

Alexander Ljung


Jonathan Miller

Mattias Ljungman

Sir Keith Mills

James Lohan

Yuri Milner

Joe Lonsdale

Branko Milutinovic

Everson Lopes

Charles Mindenhall

Oliver Luckett

Rebeca Minguela

Tim Luke

Pamela Mirels

Morten Lund

Stephen Miron



Dharmash Mistry

Misha Lyalin Dr Mike Lynch



Alastair Mitchell Anupam Mittal Tom Mockridge Jorg Mohaupt

Maria MacDonald

Phillip Mohr

Chloe Macintosh

Eva Monteiro

Filip Maertens

Octavio Monteiro

Eyal Magen

Glen Moreno

Christophe Maire

Richard Moross

Divesh Makan

Chris Morton

Federico Marchetti David Marcus

Martin Moshal p192

Bill Muirhead

Jose Marin

Charlie Muirhead

Nenad Marovac

Will Muirhead

Fernanda Marques

Matt Mullenweg

Alexandre Mars

Elisabeth Murdoch

Greg Marsh

Lachlan Murdoch

Carlos Martín

Michael Murphy

Strive Masiyiwa

Niall Murphy

Natalie Massenet MBE


Dave Mathews

Sara Murray

Dominik Matyka Frédéric Mazzella

Dale Murray Jamie Murray Wells


Brian McBride

Demet Mutlu


Carolyn McCall Dave McClure

Harbinder Narula

Andrew McCormack Julian McCrea

Alicia Navarro

Andy McLoughlin

Simon Nelson

Mike McNamara

José Neves

Sarah McVittie

Michael Nicklas

Ben Medlock


Xavier Niel

Frank Meehan

Bernhard Niesner

Karl Mehta

Simon Nixon

Florian Meissner

Archie Norman

Diego Meller

Christopher North

Mario Mello

Robert Norton

p58 p70

10 Years


In Names

Jason Rapp Carlo Ratti

Nick O’Donohoe

Paul Rawlings

Kieran O’Neill

Jeffrey Rayport

Emma Obanye

Mark Read

Rene Obermann

Peter Read

Andrew Orrock

Kate Reardon

The RT Hon George Osborne MP

Christian Reber

Ian Osborne

Rene Rechtman

John Ossenmacher

Johannes Reck

Niklas Östberg


Sharan Reddy

Martin Ott

Mayer Reich

Florian Otto

Dr Marcel Reichart

Jude Ower

Luuk Remmen

Alec Oxenford

Brian Requarth

Tamer Özmen

Hugh Reynolds Jan Rezab


Nick Rhodes Mike Rhodin

Ilkka Paananen


Chris Paik

Danny Rimer

Steve Papa Sean Parker

Fabien Riggall p14/122/136

Neil Rimer p162

Keller Rinaudo

Roger Parry

Danae Ringelmann

Dr Ali Parsa

Mike Risman

Kathryn Parsons

Gabe Rivera

Gavin Patterson

Ralph Rivera

Simon Patterson

Justine Roberts


Chip Paucek

Nick Robertson


Fany Péchiodat

Romero Rodrigues


Yana Peel

Lisa Rodwell

Rocco Pellegrinelli

Greg Rogers

Esther Perel

Pasha Romanovski

Javier Perez Tenessa

Avner Ronen

Meredith Perry

Ben Rooney

Pat Phelan

Nicolas Roope

Kai Philipp Schoppen

Anthony Rose

Andy Phillipps

Dan Rosensweig

Carlos Pires

Michael Ross

George Polk

Bob Rossato

Mark Popkiewicz

Th Viscount Rothermere

Fred Potter

Juliana Rotich

Chris Prescott

David Rowan

Alex Preston

Stuart Rowe

Richard Price

Toby Rowland

Andy Puddicombe

Neeraj Roy


Prannoy Roy Chrissie Rucker ↓

JB Rudelle

Shahrzad Rafati

Kevin Ryan

Arvind Rao

Katherine Ryder

Stephen Rapoport

Founders Forum



Nicholas Spitzman Tim Steiner

Mika Salmi Marc Samwer

Martin Stiksel p14/28/62/172

Matthew Stillman

Jez San

Rory Stirling

Kane Sarhan

Guilherme Stocco

Eduardo Saverin

Anil Stocker

Rajesh Sawhney

Stephen Stokols

Dean Sawyer

Oksana Stowe

Robin Saxby

Sir Howard Stringer

Manoj Saxena

Alan Strozenberg

Silvio Scaglia

Paul Sulyok

Mathias Schilling

Clare Sutcliffe

Steve Schlenker

Olaf Swantee

Mark Schneider


Michael Schneider Eric Schmidt Limor Schweitzer

Ashley Tabor

Ronnie Screwvala

Mark Talesnick

Richard Segal

Alexander Tamas

Kristian Segerstrale

Sten Tamkivi

Andy Serkis

Hiro Tamura

Sean Seton-Rogers

Evan Tann

Abhishek Shah

Tao Tao

Niraj Shah

Alice Taylor

Stephan Shakespeare

Daniel Taylor

Edward Shenderovich

Kim Taylor

Baroness Shields OBE

Luke Taylor

Dhruv Shringi

John Taysom

Kenneth Siber

Rodrigo Teijeiro

Olivier Sichel

Marco Tempest

Sebastian Siemiatkowski


Barry Silbert

Frank Thelen

Elena Silenok Rohan Silva

Anderson Thees p163

Ralph Simon Marc Simoncini

Javier Perez Tenessa

Andrew Thompson Mark Thompson


Viktoriya Tigipko

Zach Sims

Jason Titus

Anisha Singh

Richard Titus

Narry Singh

Naveen Tiwari

Adam Singolda

Liam Tootill

Oliver Slipper

Bjorn Tremmerie

Damian Smalley

Andy Tsao

Roald Smeets

Oleg Tscheltzoff

Barry Smith

Holly Tucker MBE

Davis Smith

Mike Turner

John Smith

Will Turner

Peter Smith

Julien Turri

Boris Sofman

Eldar Tuvey

Reshma Sohoni Peter Soros Marina Spindler


10 Years


In Names

Ellis Watson Scott Weavers-Wright

Stephan Uhrenbacher

Lukasz Wejchert

Odera Ume-Ezeoke

Tim Weller

Kate Unsworth Eben Upton


Rob Wells p182

Stephen Welton Ian West Nick Wheeler Ben Whitaker

Edward Vaizey MP

Jos White

Pierre Valade

Andreas Wiele

Adam Valkin

Ido Wiesenberg

Pere Valles

Bob Wigley

Joep van Beurden

Erik Wikstrom

Annelies van den Belt

David Willetts

Pieter van der Does


Aksel Van Der Wal

Paul Willmott

Alex van Someren Yossi Vardi

Hjalmar Winbladh p69

Alick Varma Martín Varsavsky

Ed Williams

Conrad Wolfram Stephen Wolfram


Brian Wong

Julio Vasconcellos

Sarah Wood

Krishna Vedati

Adrian Wooldridge

Leila Velez

Marc Worth

Rakesh Verma

Ed Wray

Roel Vertegaal


Dominique Vidal Suna Vidinli

Juan Villalonga

Micah Yairi

Renaud Visage

Sir Hossein Yassaie

Rytis Vitkauskas

Azmat Yusuf

Natalia Vodianova


Werner Vogels Arkady Volozh


Ben Vonwiller p180

Nadhim Zahawi Mark Zaleski

Petra Vorsteher

Niklas Zennström

Sonny Vu

Jeppe Zink Amin Zoufonoun Christiane zu Salm

Dan Wagner The Lord Alli Eric Wahlforss Carl Waldekranz Jimmy Wales Andrew Walmsley Peter Ward Daniel Waterhouse Richard Watney


Alexander Zacke

Jon von Tetzchner



Riccardo Zacconi

Lucas von Cranach Stefan von Holtzbrinck





Project Management: Founders Forum and Forth Studio Design and Editorial: Forth Studio Forth Studio: Creative Director: Darren Rogers Senior Designer: Jonathan Roberts Designer: Oliver Williams Editor and Writer: Jon Bernstein Managing Editor: Siobhan Keam Feature Writer: John Willman Sub-editor: Yo Zushi Founders Forum: Project Manager: Poppy Gaye Project Assistant: Susannah Bains Contributors: Andrus Ansip Matt Brittin Jonathan Goodwin Brent Hoberman CBE Reid Hoffman Travis Kalanick Henry Lane Fox David Marcus The Rt Hon George Osborne MP Chapter Interviews: Ana Botín Rachel Botsman Samir Desai Jacques-Antoine Granjon Demis Hassabis Hermann Hauser Taavet Hinrikus Neelie Kroes Henry Lane Fox Ilkka Paananen Danny Rimer Marc Samwer Ed Wray Riccardo Zacconi Feature Interviews: Nikesh Arora Steve Case Sir Charles Dunstone Lars Hinrichs Natalie Massenet Martín Varsavsky Arkady Volozh Niklas Zennström Q&A Contributors: Alex Chesterman Daniel Ek Arianna Huffington Alexander Ljung Yuri Milner José Neves Stefan von Holtzbrinck Jimmy Wales One-line portrait illustrations: Christophe Louis Cover Quote: “The Davos of Tech” The Guardian

Photography: Caleb Bryant Miller Martin Burton NASDAQ Portrait photography courtesy of the participants Jimmy Wales portrait – Wikimedia Natalie Massenet portrait – Matt Holyoak for Net-a-Porter Steve Case portrait – Johnny Shyrock for Revolution Remaining photography courtesy of Founders Forum, unless otherwise stated © Founders Forum 2015 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of Founders Forum. Acknowledgements: Founders Forum would like to thank all of the people featured in this book for their participation, as well as everyone that has attended and supported the Founders Forum events over the past ten years. With special thanks to: Andrew Fisher, Tutte Watson, Marcy Oguntoye and Yasmine Morawej at Shazam, Tom Wehmeier and team at Atomico, Inigo Glenn and team at Lepe Partners, Ninja Struye de Swielande, Susannah Bains, Martin Burton and all who gave their feedback along the way at Founders Forum. Disclaimer: Although the writers, editors and publisher have made every effort to ensure that the information in this book is correct at going to press, the writers, editors and publisher do not assume and hereby disclaim any liability to any party for any loss, damage, or disruption caused by errors or omissions, whether such errors or omissions result from negligence, accident, or any other cause. The views and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Founders Forum. Printing Information: Printed at PUSH, London The paper used in this publication is sourced from responsibly managed forests and is a FSC certified material. Printed in the UK by an FSC and ISO 14001 certified printer. Limited Edition Limited Edition

Founders Forum - 10 years  
Founders Forum - 10 years