The Power 1000 – London’s most influential people 2013: Tech stars
The digital buzz is no longer just around Silicon Roundabout in east London — now everyone from teenage schoolboys to taxi drivers wants to create an app or launch a start-up. Recent rows over online trolling and international tax avoidance show just how much technology matters in our lives
Published: 19 September 2013
Updated: 14:12, 20 September 2013
★ Twitter star ★
Nick sold his news app Summly, which summarised news headlines, to Yahoo for $30 million in March — a stunning achievement for a Wimbledon schoolboy aged 17. Picked as one of the Generation Next names to watch in last year’s The 1000, his mentors include Apple’s Sir Jonathan Ive and Stephen Fry. D’Aloisio is juggling his studies with work as he criss-crosses the Atlantic for Yahoo.
Facebook, vice president for Europe, Middle East and Africa
Manchester-born Mendelsohn calls herself “a proper Northern lass”, and oversees a team of nearly 1,000 across the region for the world’s biggest social media site, including about 150 in its Covent Garden office. Said to celebrate every big account win by buying a pair of Christian Louboutin heels and insisted on working a four-day week in her previous role chairing ad agency Karmarama.
Social media success: Nicola Mendelsohn, Facebook Vice-President for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (Picture: Rebecca Reid)Joanna Shields
Tech City Investment Organisation, chief executive
The woman tasked with looking after Tech City, the Government’s often controversial initiative to promote east London as a technology hub. She previously worked at Google and ranAndy Stevenson, helping sell it for close to $850 million, and is believed to have been a big winner in Facebook’s flotation. Married to Force India Formula 1 team manager Andy Stevenson.
Google, Northern Europe vice-president
He was the public face of Google during its tax avoidance row and the man whom MPs grilled on the subject during two difficult Commons appearances. A former Trinity Mirror executive and ex-Cambridge and Olympic rower, he is a master of lobbying in a firm that is closer to the UK Government than almost any other tech giant. Lists his hobbies in Debrett’s as “cycling to work in the rain”. Spot him breakfasting at The Wolseley.
Michael Acton Smith
Mind Candy, founder
★ Twitter star ★
Known as “Mr Moshi”, Acton Smith is the poster boy for Shoreditch’s Silicon Roundabout after creating hit kids’ site Moshi Monsters. Known for his unruly hair and penchant for blazers and badges, bubbly Acton Smith is one of the capital’s “superconnectors” — even running a music festival in his Soho flat to bring people together. His firm continues to grow — he’s always tweeting from around the world — and has done an astonishing variety of licensing deals as Moshi goes from digital to physical products.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee
After his starring role in the Olympic opening ceremony when he sent a tweet from his iPhone, the creator of the world wide web was one of five internet and web pioneers awarded the inaugural Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering. He is a passionate believer in the openness of the internet and a director of the Open Data Institute in Shoreditch, which aims to “catalyse an open data culture”.
Beginning his entrepreneurial career at 14, Swedish music-lover Ek’s Spotify service has been the biggest thing to happen to online music since iTunes, despite claims from some musicians that the firm does not pay artists enough. The Arsenal fan spends a lot of time in London, and also plays guitar — although it’s believed he is yet to get any of his own music on the service.
We Are Social, co-founder
From personalised cans of Heinz soup to online X Factor voting and a secret club for Marmite lovers, the easy-going PR firm boss has taken full advantage of social media for clients. Launched in the depths of recession in 2008, Grant’s Farringdon-based company has been doubling in size every year and boasts offices across the globe.
PROfounders Capital, investment partner
★Twitter star ★
Still best known as the former boss of lastminute.com, he has fingers in many pies. He is a partner in investment firm PROfounders Capital as well as setting up Founders Forum, a high-powered private network for 3000 entrepreneurs and leaders in tech and media. In addition, he chairs designer furniture site made.com and is a UK business trade ambassador. He is also as a non-executive director of Guardian Media Group and TalkTalk and on the board of mobile app Shazam. Tweets top business stories to his nearly 30,000 followers.
Founders Forum, co-founder
Ultra-connected former media banker who runs his own advisory boutique, Lepe Partners, and heads Founders Forum, a networking club for digital entrepreneurs. Led a big UK trade mission to Los Angeles in February, when David Cameron took part by webcast, and hosted a dinner at Windsor Castle with Prince Andrew.
Wired, UK editor
He relaunched Wired in the UK with a remit that ranges from science to business and has expanded it with conferences and even a consulting arm. The former Evening Standard media interviewer is also in demand as a public speaker and it seems no tech conference can happen without Rowan moderating.
★ Twitter star ★
The outspoken American creator of the world’s greatest free online encyclopaedia now spends most of his time in London, after marrying Tony Blair’s former diary secretary Kate Garvey. Remains utterly committed to Wikipedia’s open, honest ethos and has no compunction about exposing companies or individuals that secretly try to censor or edit the site.
Chris Gorell Barnes
Adjust Your Set, founder
With a penchant for colourful trousers, Gorell Barnes is helping big brands become publishers in their own right by making films, rather than adverts, with innovative technology that allows customers to buy in real time while watching. He began his business life promoting club nights at Ministry of Sound and his long-term partner is lastminute.com founder Baroness Lane-Fox.
Helping hand: Chris Gorell Barnes (Picture: Rebecca ReidMartin Clarke
Under hard-driving Clarke, the online version of the Daily Mail just keeps growing, with the hoopla surrounding William and Kate’s baby setting a new record of more than 10 million visitors in a day. Feared and admired by employees and the rest of the industry, he has brought British journalism to a worldwide audience, with aggressive expansion plans around the globe, led by the site’s notorious “sidebar of shame” of celebrity stories.
With a Masters in machine learning from Cambridge, Mandarin speaker Hogarth has managed to create a smart way to track the music you listen to and tell you when your favourite bands are playing live. Taking a slice of ticket sales, it has proved a worldwide success, and is one of the most visible app firms to emerge from Silicon Roundabout.
Amazon digital media development centre, managing director
One of the leaders of Amazon’s worldwide push into interactive TV, Byrne is the British boss of Amazon’s eight-floor technology centre in east London which houses development teams from streaming website LoveFilm and TV app developer Pushbutton (which she sold to Amazon). As every tech giant turns its attention to the TV market, Liverpudlian Byrne says London could be the key to innovations that finally put the living room online.
Index Ventures, founder
A key member of the venture capital company Index, one of the biggest investors in tech companies in Europe with a string of successful investments such as Mind Candy. After setting up the London office, Rimer has sung the praises of the capital, frequently in Silicon Valley, calling London a “turbocharged microcosm of the US”. Influential as a non-executive director of BSkyB.
Wonga, chief executive
Wonga hit the headlines for the wrong reasons after Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby attacked payday lenders for charging high interest rates, so it would be easy to forget that Damelin has built that rare thing — a successful homegrown British tech business. “We believe we are a powerful force for good in the financial world,” says the South African-born ex-banker, who argues Wonga is filling a gap left by banks.
Index Ventures, adviser
Long-term Tory aide who is credited with being the driving force behind the creation of Tech City in east London. His influence showed at his leaving do at No 10, attended by David Cameron and Google’s Eric Schmidt. Moved this summer to a new, loosely defined role as entrepreneur in residence at top venture capital firm Index Ventures but intends to launch his own digital education start-up.
Driving force: Rohan Silva (Picture: Lucy Young)Alan Hely
Apple, European communications director
Long-serving Scottish PR supremo who masterminds Apple’s PR strategy across Europe, Hely’s imposing presence is never far away at key times. A keen cyclist and tennis player, straight-talking Hely also shepherds Sir Jonathan Ive on his frequent visits to London.
Twitter, UK manager
A former executive at magazines group Bauer and YouTube, he joined last year and has just been promoted to the top job in the UK after Tony Wang returned to America. Twitter has never been more popular, but Daisley must also win back trust after “trolls” sent abusive tweets and even death threats to female users. Twitter has introduced an alert system to prevent the abuse.
UK digital champion
Baroness Lane-Fox of Soho, to use her full title, this year became the youngest female member of the House of Lords. A poster girl for the first dotcom bubble who has gone on to boardroom positions at Channel 4 (she left last year) and Marks & Spencer — despite a car accident that left lifelong injuries. Also chairs hot start-up MakieLab which makes 3D printed toy dolls. She is instrumental in bringing the internet to everyone in Britain through Go On UK and, rumour has it, is also an enthusiastic regular at the Soho karaoke bar Lucky Voice, which she founded.
Raspberry Pi, founder
The man many believe is helping teach the next generation to write computer code, Upton and his team developed a £16 computer that is used in schools and homes after notching more than one million sales. Now Upton and his team are taking their invention global.
Google Campus, head
The Argentinian Israeli heads up Campus, Google’s start-up space in east London, which runs regular events and gives a home to entrepreneurs. A keen cyclist, Vidra also runs techbikers, a charity cycling club for tech workers.
One of three licensed London cab drivers who founded this hot taxi-booking app in 2010. Bromley-based Hall, a driver himself for over 30 years, likes to say Hailo was “developed with cabbies for cabbies”. He had long seen the potential of technology to improve the taxi industry and previously founded web-booking service Taxilight. Now Hailo is expanding around the world, with venture-capital backing from Wellington Partners and Atomico Partners.
Entrepreneur and über-fixer who has fingers in many start-ups. He was an early investor in Spotify, is an adviser to Path and mentored Summly wunderkind Nick d’Aloisio. Known as Shak, he ran away from home on his 16th birthday. He is a leading supporter of charity: water, a philanthropic venture backed by the tech industry to bring clean drinking water to developing countries. He even has a town in Ethiopia, Shaktown, named after him.
Start-up Britain, co-founder
The man who has made it his mission in life to make others think about becoming entrepreneurs, Barrett is behind several schemes including Start-up Britain and a series of UK missions to places such as Silicon Valley and Brazil to foster innovation. Impossible to dislike, Barrett is almost as well known in tech circles for his absolutely terrible jokes as his endless enthusiasm for inspiring others — which was rewarded this year with an MBE.
Previously a Googler, Yusuf capitalised on a gap in the market for a “do everything” transport app with Citymapper, loved by users for its simplicity, particularly the innovative “get me home” button which can work out the best route and show you options ranging from Boris bikes to buses — all on one screen.
A former executive at Vodafone and private equity firm 3i, she has brought corporate savvy to the London tech scene by setting up Seedcamp, something akin to the “accelerator” programmes that churn out start-ups by the dozen in Silicon Valley and now one of the most important “first stops” for entrepreneurs across Europe. She has backed tech firms including Mobclix and Zoombu. Spends her spare time doing “seasonal adrenalised sports”.
★ Twitter star ★
Cambridge-educated multi-tasking tech investor who has been involved in LoveFilm, Skype and Last.fm. Holds influential roles with Index Ventures and with SeedCamp, an investment and entrepreneurial mentoring service which aims to encourage talent, and with the Accelerator Group, which invests in early stage firms, and counts Tweetdeck as one of its biggest successes. 25,000 followers on Twitter underline his influence.
Previously a venture capitalist, Vitkauskas quit his job to become an entrepreneur and set up Yplan, an innovative going-out app that offers cheap last-minute tickets to events in the next 48 hours. The Lithuanian began his tech fascination early, fixing computers as his first business. Now Yplan is set to open in New York with a host of backers, including actor Ashton Kutcher, and ambitious expansion plans.