- Welcome to Business Insider’s UK Tech 100.
- Every year, we track down and showcase the 100 most influential and interesting people impacting the British technology industry.
- From budding entrepreneurs to intrepid regulators, these are the top 100 people you really need to know in the UK tech scene today.
- Rockstar engineers, ambitious politicians, fearless campaigners and rising TikTok stars all made the list in 2019.
- Keep reading to see who’s really making a difference – and who’s number one.
Throughout 2019, the British technology and startup scene has been roiled by powerful forces.
Political uncertainty, the the distorting financial impact of mega-funders like SoftBank, and increased public skepticism about tech’s utopian promises have all left a mark.
It would be easy to feel gloomy. But the technology industry remains a major bright spot for the UK economically, bringing in £184 billion in revenue last year. And the sector is full to the brim of exciting entrepreneurs chasing world-changing ideas, hitting new milestones and breaking new ground.
Every year, Business Insider publishes the UK Tech 100 – our list of the 100 most interesting, innovative, and influential people shaping the UK tech scene, whether that’s visionary founders building global firms out of Britain, or regulators grappling with Silicon Valley titans.
This year’s constellation of entrepreneurs, technologists, investors, scientists, and critics demonstrates that the UK is easily capable of building a wide range of fast-growing, global businesses that attract serious investment both here and abroad – while also leading the pack on grappling with tech’s social impacts.
Our ranking focuses on those who have done cool or impactful work since last year’s UK Tech 100 in October 2018– whether that’s building a fascinating and fast-growing company, having a good eye for red-hot investments, or riding the mercurial wave of internet virality.
Keep reading to see who made the UK Tech 100 in 2019 – and who’s number one.
Editing by Shona Ghosh, Rob Price, and Steven Tweedie. Jake Kanter, Callum Burroughs, Shona Ghosh, and Rob Price contributed reporting.
100. Holly H, Britain’s biggest TikTok star
Holly H is a superstar, but probably one that anyone over the age of 25 won’t recognize. That’s partly because she, like other social media stars, is redefining what it means to be a celebrity.
The 23-year-old is the biggest British creator on TikTok, the Chinese app that lets people share short and sometimes weird video clips. TikTok is the fastest-growing social media app globally, and is popular with young people put off by weird YouTube drama and the controlled superficiality of Instagram.
With nearly 16 million followers, she does what a lot of TikTokkers do well: lip-syncs to songs, dances, and makes comedy skits with her pals – all hyped with snappy editing and simple effects.
According to Vice, Holly H originally hails from West Sussex, has her mother for a manager, and now makes all her money via her online fame.
Previous rank: New entryTwitter: @HollyH
99. Kelu (Eric) Liu created a delivery service that’s aimed at Chinese consumers
Kelu Liu is a Nottingham graduate and the brains behind HungryPanda, an online food delivery service that brings Chinese food to Chinese students. It’s an interesting twist on standard food delivery services such as Deliveroo, which partner up with a variety of local restaurants to deliver different types of food. But HungryPanda very much knows its target audience – its app is only available in Chinese.
It is still in its relatively early stages, but has already expanded to 14 cities in the UK.
Liu graduated from the University of Nottingham in 2016 with a degree in computer science and management. He confirmed to Business Insider that he has quietly raised early funding from two well-known European backers- Felix Capital and 83North.
Headcount: 250 Previous rank: New entry
98. Joanna Shields, using AI to improve healthcare
US-born tech executive Joanna Shields is the founder and CEO of BenevolentAI, a healthtech startup that aims to use AI to discover, test and ultimately develop new medicines.
Shields has had a challenging year. BenevolentAI saw its valuation slashed to $1 billion after raising $90 million from Temasek in September, down from $2 billion last year.
Still, Shields remains one of the most influential women in UK tech.
She was Facebook’s boss in Europe, the Middle East and Africa from 2010 to 2013, and has served as ex-PM Theresa May’s advisor on internet safety and security. She was also the UK government’s advisor on the digital economy between 2013 and 2018.
The “Future Fifty” initiative she helped set up – which supports the UK’s brightest late-stage tech startups annually – also continues to thrive. Its recent alumni include Deliveroo, which raised $575 million in an Amazon-led funding round in May, as well as TransferWise, SkyScanner and Zoopla.
Total amount raised: $202 million Headcount: 51-100 Previous rank: 16 Twitter: @joannashields
97. The undergraduate students who beat Apple to building a web player for Apple Music
If your product’s good enough, big tech can’t help but pay attention – even if you’re still in college.
James Jarvis, Raphaël Vigée, Filip Grębowski, and Brychan Bennett-Odlum are computer science students at the University of Kent. In their free time, they managed to catch the attention of Apple after developing an unofficial web player for Apple Music.
The students developed the service, Musish, after realising that Apple did not offer a browser interface for its music streaming platform like Spotify does. Musish uses a subscriber’s existing music library to let them listen across any device that has a web browser, including non-Apple devices.
In May 2019, the quartet were invited to meet with Apple executives at the tech giant’s Cupertino headquarters, with Jarvis calling the meeting “extremely positive.” Apple separately launched its own web interface for Apple Music in September.
Previous rank: New entry
96. David Austin, the man in charge of enforcing Britain’s porn block… whenever that is
As the CEO of the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), a UK regulator, David Austin is in charge of policing the UK’s upcoming age-verification laws on pornography – whenever they are ultimately implemented.
The BBFC will force adult websites to carry out age-checks on their visitors, and non-compliant sites will be blocked in the UK. However, the ban has been repeatedly pushed back. It was originally slated for April 2018, then delayed to July 15, before being pushed back again. Then-Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright said it would be another six months or so, due to a bureaucratic error, as the government had failed to alert the EU.
Austin previously worked for the UK diplomatic service, with postings including Central Africa and South Asia.
Previous rank: New entry
95. Luciana Lixandru, Accel’s star young investor
London-based investor Luciana Lixandru is a partner at investment firm Accel.
Her activity over the last 12 months includes a November 2018 investment in Miro, a firm that makes smart whiteboards to improve internal collaboration within businesses. The investment formed part of of Miro’s $25 million Series A fundraise.
Her earlier bets have also flourished of late. She was an early user of and investor in Deliveroo, before most of the UK had heard of the food delivery app. This year the firm won backing from Amazon (and a regulatory probe as an unfortunate side helping.)
Accel and Lixandru also participated in a new round in software automation firm UiPath, founded in her home country of Romania and now worth a cool $7 billion.
Previous rank: 25 Twitter: @LucianaLix
94. Adam Koszary, the social media whizz who got headhunted by Elon Musk
In a bizarre modern fairy-tale, a social media manager for an obscure English museum was headhunted by Elon Musk this year after concocting a viral tweet about a sheep.
Adam Koszary used to head up social media at the Museum of English Rural Life in Reading, and under his watch the institution’s Twitter feed became known for a string of surreal and viral tweets about its exhibits.
In April 2019, it fired off a particularly potent tweet: A 1926 photo of an exceedingly large ram it dubbed an “absolute unit” – a reference to the popular meme. The tweet caught the attention of Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who ended up in a peculiar back-and-forth with the museum’s account.
A little more than a month later, social mastermind Koszary announced he’d taken a job as a social media manager at Tesla.
Previous rank: New entry Twitter: @AdamKoszary
93. Saurav Chopra is helping companies keep their employees loyal
Saurav Chopra is the CEO and cofounder of Perkbox, a service which enables businesses to give their employees access to a number of benefits and rewards with the aim of improving staff well-being and retention rates.
Prior to founding his company, Chopra worked for Deloitte and Yahoo, but has said he always has had an entrepreneurial bent as many of his family ran their own businesses.
Since launching in 2015, the company has raised nearly $30 million in funding – most recently a £13.5 million ($16.5 million) pot in April 2019 – hired more than 250 people, and opened offices in nine cities around the world. Its mission now is to reach 100 million employees by 2025.
Total amount raised: $29.7 million Headcount: 250+ Previous rank: New entry
92. Marta Krupinska, the entrepreneur now helping Google champion new startups
Marta Krupinska is a former tech entrepreneur now lending her assistance to one of the world’s biggest tech giants.
Previously cofounder of money-transfer startup Azimo, she was appointed head of Google for Startups UK in February 2019.
The Jagiellonian University graduate is based at Google’s startup campus in Shoreditch in East London and runs its residency programmes for growth firms. She has come into the role with a focus on diversity, and just oversaw Google for Startups’ first female founder intake.
Previous rank: New entry Twitter: @mmeentrepreneur
91. Ed Vaizey, the politico keeping a beady eye on tech
Ed Vaizey is the former culture secretary and maintains an affable presence on the UK’s tech scene.
He joined the advisory board of Newsguard in June this year, a startup that wants to help people determine whether they’re reading reliable information online.
The independent MP also maintains a well-read weekly email newsletter highlighting the latest in culture, media, and tech across the UK.
90. Parmy Olson, tech journalism’s deep diver
As tech’s tentacles stretch ever-further across the globe, the need for powerful journalism to help hold it to account has never been greater.
Doing exactly this is Parmy Olson, a consistently excellent veteran reporter who in April 2019 joined The Wall Street Journal in London, having previously worked for Forbes. Her focus includes cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, privacy, health tech, and surveillance.
In November 2018, while still at Forbes, she landed a blockbuster interview with WhatsApp cofounder Brian Acton about his disillusionment with and departure from Facebook.
She is also well-known for her coverage of “hacktivism,” particularly the decentralized collective Anonymous, writing a book on the subject in 2012.
Twitter: @parmy Previous rank: New entry
89. Belle Delphine, a surrealist troll that became too much for Instagram
19-year-old Belle Delphine caused a social media riot this summer with the announcement that she was selling $30 bottles of her bath water.
The South African-born, UK-living Instagram star rocketed to fame this year with her provocative, surreal and self-aware stunts, all perfectly calibrated to wind up horny teenage gamers – from caressing a dead octopus to launching a troll-y PornHub page.
She managed to build an audience of 4.5 million people on Instagram, but the Facebook-owned photo-sharing app ultimately decided she had crossed a line and banned her in July. After two months of social media silence, Delphine claimed in October that she had been arrested for spraypainting someone’s car after they stole her hamster; the truth of this remains unclear.
Previous rank: New entry Twitter: @bunnydelphine
88. Nigel Shadbolt, in charge of setting up a new AI ethics institute
An Oxford professor and cofounder of the Open Data Institute (along with internet wizard Tim Berners-Lee), Nigel Shadbolt is about to take on another assignment.
This year it was announced in June that Shadbolt will be heading up a new institute specialising in the ethics of AI, which will be housed within a new £150 million ($185 million) humanities centre funded by famous US financier Stephen Schwarzman. (It’s not clear what proportion of that £150 million will go towards the new AI ethics institute.)
The Oxford prof was knighted in 2013, and is also fond of sailing and gardening.
Previous rank: New entry Twitter: @Nigel_Shadbolt
87. Francis Gonzalez, the headteacher building gaming into the curriculum
Francis Gonzalez is the headteacher of Richard Cloudesley School in North London, a school for pupils with special needs. The school made the unusual decision this year of bringing in gaming classes, letting kids play video games like Minecraft.
The aim of the gaming lessons? Improving the children’s confidence and communication skills.
“It’s about learning the social skills, the resilience, you know winning and losing, all of those things that have actually have a huge impact on the rest of your life,” Gonzalez told the BBC in August 2019. The school uses Microsoft’s adaptive controller for disabled gamers to make the classes as widely accessible as possible to its students.
Previous rank: New entry
86. Louise Rix, a UK VC investor that’s helping to shed light on diversity in the industry
In 2018, Forward Partners became the first UK venture capital firm to reveal its portfolio diversity and shed some light on where it puts its millions.
Louise Rix, a medical doctor-turned-investor, conducted the research, looking through six weeks’ worth of startup applications to determine how successful different types of applicants were at winning investment.
The results showed that while Forward Partners is beating the average, with 10 companies out of its 52 investments having at least one female founder, women founders are still in the minority.
Total amount raised: $84.4 million Headcount: 20 Previous rank: New entry Twitter: @LouiseCRix
85. Elizabeth Denham, the data cop holding Facebook’s feet to the flames
Britain’s top data cop, the Information Commissioner’s Office, clobbered Facebook with a record £500,000 fine for the Cambridge Analytica scandal in late October last year.
Days later, the UK Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said Facebook’s advertising business model rubs against EU privacy laws and the company is part of an ecosystem that has shown a “very disturbing disregard” for the data of British citizens.
More recently, she has raised concerns about Mark Zuckerberg’s cryptocurrency project Libra. In short: Over the past 12 months, Denham has not made herself popular at Menlo Park.
Previous rank: 24
84. Bailey Kursar, putting ethics at the heart of money management
After cutting her teeth in marketing roles at the likes of Monzo, Zopa and Funding Options, entrepreneur Bailey Kursar decided to go it alone by founding Toucan, an ethically-minded money management app.
Established in January of this year, Toucan offers a range of tools for people who have mental health problems and may be financially vulnerable as a result. In this way, the app doubles as a way for banks to help their most vulnerable customers.
Once users have securely connected Toucan to their personal bank account, the app offers alerts based on their personal spending habits, help complying with complex financial regulation, and a tool that lets them nominate a trusted friend or carer for support.
Previous rank: New entry Headcount: 1-10
83. Oishi Deb, the software engineer pursuing machine learning on the side
Oishi Deb is a young British software engineer with Rolls-Royce, working in its control system department. She graduated in 2017 with a degree in software engineering from the University of Leicester, saying that she had chosen the course despite a dearth of other women studying the same subject. Deb graduated straight into a job at Rolls-Royce. She has acted as an ambassador for STEM subjects to pupils and students, speaking at schools in her current role and having chaired a computer science group for women while at university.
Deb has received a number of awards and scholarships and, in December, won a grant from Sky to develop a machine-learning project alongside her day job despite never having previously studied the technology.
Previous rank: New entry Twitter: @DebOishi
82. Melinda Roylett, Uber’s new UK chief who’ll have to fight for its licence
Melinda Roylett is Uber’s latest UK boss and its third in seven years, joining the firm from Square. Her predecessor at Uber, Tom Elvidge, left for WeWork.
The UK, and specifically London, is Uber’s biggest market in Europe and has posed multiple regulatory challenges. The city’s transport regulator, Transport for London, revoked Uber’s operating licence in 2017 and begrudgingly handed it back after a court battle.
In September, TfL only granted Uber a two-month licence, meaning the ride-hailing firm is under extreme pressure to show good behaviour around passenger safety, driver checks, and generally towing the line.
Roylett will be going into the job with her eyes open – few could miss the relentless negative headlines that have dogged Uber almost since its inception, or the regulatory battles it faces around the world. As a complete outsider, she has the chance to show UK regulators that the firm has finally turned over a new leaf.
Headcount: 200 (in the UK) Previous rank: New entry
81. Andrea Coscelli, the regulator holding Jeff Bezos to account
Andrea Coscelli is one of a swathe of British government figures who have worked to take Big Tech to task over the last year.
Coscelli is chief executive of the Competition and Markets Authority, the UK’s competition regulator. The CMA may claim its first big scalp, having put the brakes on Amazon’s investment into UK food delivery startup Deliveroo.
Amazon had led Deliveroo’s mammoth $575 million Series G fundraise in May 2019, with Deliveroo founder Will Shu describing the tech behemoth as “an inspiration” and “customer-obsessed.” But the CMA suspects the two companies might integrate, and has launched a probe.
Coscelli has been with the CMA for six years, and previously worked at Ofcom.
Previous rank: New entry
80. The 2 Uber drivers who threatened Uber’s IPO
James Farrar and Yaseen Aslam are the British Uber drivers-turned-campaigners who took the ride-hailing firm to court back in 2016 over driver rights and won.
In a sensational UK high court ruling that has continued to reverberate even as Uber became a multibillion-dollar public company, Farrar and Aslam upended Uber’s arguments that it didn’t have to give drivers basic employment rights such as holiday pay. More generally, Farrar and Aslam’s case raised public awareness of how precarious it is to work for the new breed of “gig-economy” firms.
Their impact is still being felt today: In the paperwork Uber filed in April 2019 ahead of its IPO, the Californian ride-hailing giant specifically cited this type of ruling as a risk to its business and called out Farrar and Aslam directly.
79. Damian Collins, Facebook’s most-feared lawmaker
Damian Collins is arguably the lawmaker Facebook fears more than any other.
It has been over 18 months since the Cambridge Analytica data scandal humbled Facebook, but the 45-year-old British Conservative MP – and the parliamentary Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee he chairs – hasn’t tired of doggedly pursuing the fallout from the revelations.
In December 2018, Collins published a cache of secret Facebook documents, casting light on the firm’s handling of user data and its ruthless approach to rivals. Three months later, he accused Facebook of behaving like “digital gangsters” as part of a devastating report on the Cambridge Analytica scandal. All the while, he’s continued peppering the company with questions about the evidence it has given his committee.
Ultimately, Collins’ grasp of Facebook’s frailties is second to none, so it’s little wonder Mark Zuckerberg has consistently dodged his requests to give evidence.
Previous rank: 80 Twitter: @DamianCollins
78. Carolyn McCall and Tony Hall, taking on Netflix with Britbox
The BBC and ITV have a long and tempestuous history of clashes in their battle for TV viewers – but the rise of Netflix has swept the old rivalries aside.
Threatened by the $130 billion video-streaming gorilla, the two venerable British broadcasters are embracing to launch their own video service, Britbox.
Under the joint stewardship of BBC Director General Tony Hall and ITV CEO Carloyn McCall, Britbox will debut in the UK later this year, charging viewers £5.99 to stream new shows and a back catalogue of classic television from the organisations’ archives.
It’s an unusual commercial partnership for two old foes – and one they first tried to get off the ground more than a decade ago. Back in 2007, when Netflix had just started streaming, they tried to launch online TV venture Project Kangaroo, but it was blocked by regulators at the time.
12 years later, Hall and McCall will be hoping that they aren’t too late to the party.
Previous rank: New entry
77. Unicorn spotters Hussein Kanji and Rob Kniaz
Hussein Kanji and Rob Kniaz are the affable, plugged-in investors behind Hoxton Ventures, the early-stage European investment fund headquartered in London.
Kanji was formerly an investor at Accel, while Kniaz previously worked at Fidelity Ventures and Google before that.
The pair took early bets on a number of firms that would go on to become extremely buzzy, with investments including food-delivery startup Deliveroo, cybersecurity firm Darktrace, and healthtech biz Babylon Health.
All three have raised serious money or seen huge growth in the last 12 months – a strong track record for a first fund. According to an SEC filing spotted in early February, the pair are planning to raise $100 million for a second fund.
76. Nick Bostrom, the philosopher backed by Bill Gates and Elon Musk
Nick Bostrom is a professor of philosophy at Oxford University and artificial intelligence expert who studies AI’s potential impact on humanity – for better, and for worse. His work, especially on the idea that AI could become perilously indifferent to humans without turning malevolent, has received several big-name endorsements from the tech world.
Bill Gates has cited Bostrom’s book, Superintelligence, as one of two books everyone should read if they want to better understand AI, while Elon Musk urged his Twitter followers to read the same book back in 2014.
In 2019, Swedish-born Bostrom is continuing to lead academia when it comes to assessing humanity’s future in an AI-driven world. He serves as director of the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford, a multidisciplinary research group he founded that “brings careful thinking to bear on big-picture questions about humanity and its prospects.”
The Institute’s recent publications include a report on the US public’s attitude towards AI, and a report on the threats posed by biotechnology based on a meeting of scientists, engineers and policy leaders from around the globe. It also launched a postgraduate scholarship in February 2019 for students “whose work seeks to improve the long-term prospects of humanity.”
Previous rank: New entry
75. Caroline Plumb, a fintech expert lending a hand to the government on the side
Caroline Plumb is the multi-talented founder and current CEO of Fluidly, a fintech startup that uses AI and financial modelling to forecast companies’ cash flows. Set up in 2016, it raised $6.2 million in a Series A funding round in November 2018. She is also founder of a tech-focused management consultant, Decidedly (formerly known as Freshminds).
Since 2010, she has also served as the Prime Minister’s business ambassador for professional services, representing the UK’s professional services industries in countries such as France, Brunei and Singapore.
Plumb’s work has been recognised by numerous institutions. In the same year she founded Fluidly, Plumb was awarded an OBE for services to business and charity.
Total amount raised: $15.5 million Headcount: 11-50 Previous rank: New entry Twitter: @cplumb
74. Josh Bell, who took an early bet on iZettle
Josh Bell is a general partner at early-stage investor Dawn Capital, which focuses on European enterprise startups. Bell won big last year from betting early on iZettle, which was acquired by PayPal for $2.2 billion in September 2018.
Dawn Capital, which has been around since 2007, raised a new $125 million fund in June 2019 so that the firm can double down on a handful of its existing bets. Promising startups in its stable include fintech firm Soldo and data intelligence company Collibra.
Bell, a former McKinsey employee, is based in London.
Previous rank: New entry Twitter: @joshbell
73. Dr. Jess Wade, the scientist rectifying Wikipedia’s blind spot
Wikipedia is the world’s biggest encyclopedia, and it has one major flaw – the bulk of its volunteer editors are male.
This is widely acknowledged to be the reason why there are fewer notable women highlighted on Wikipedia. As The Guardian flagged in 2014, Wikipedia’s page on porn actresses was better edited than its page on women writers.
Dr. Jess Wade has been on a one-woman mission to change this, at least in scientific fields. She has decided to take on the lack of prominent female scientists featured on Wikipedia, creating hundreds of new entries for women who deserve greater fame. Last year, she added 280 new entries.
Professionally, she’s a physicist at Imperial College London studying organic light emitting diodes. But outside of her research, she has authored at least 400 pages on Wikipedia and, in late 2018, raised more than £20,000 to get a copy of “Inferior,” a book about how women are ignored by science, into every UK state school.
Previous rank: New entry Twitter: @jesswade
72. Ola Sendecka, Django Girls founder and Monzo engineer
Ola Sendecka is a triple threat: Engineer, educational YouTuber, and advocate for getting girls into coding.
Sendecka spun a one-off coding workshop for women into an international charity, Django Girls, in 2014. Five years later and Django Girls runs a network of more than 1,900 volunteers in 90 countries. She later set up her own YouTube channel, Coding is for Girls.
On top of all this, Sendecka took up an engineering job at red-hot (or hot coral) banking app Monzo in the first half of 2019.
Previous rank: New entry Twitter: @asendecka
71. Carole Cadwalladr, the Cambridge Analytica-breaking journalist keeping the pressure up
The Cambridge Analytica scandal may have been the scoop of 2018, but the fallout has very much continued into this year.
Guardian and Observer journalist Carole Cadwalladr wasn’t the first journalist to highlight what Cambridge Analytica was, but she was the first to put a human face on the complex story via her interview with employee-turned-whistleblower Chris Wylie.
She can also be credited for significantly raising public awareness of Facebook’s power to shape public opinion, and the legacy of her reporting has encouraged media and lawmaker scrutiny of the firm this year.
She has since remained in the spotlight, both through her prolific Twitter account putting pressure on Arron Banks and others connected to the issue, and through a popular Netflix documentary on the saga, “The Great Hack.”
Previous rank: 19 Twitter: @carolecadwalla
70. The sisters building ‘dark’ kitchens for Uber Eats and Deliveroo
Eccie and Gini Newton are a pair of foodie entrepreneurs whose business is booming thanks to the explosion in new takeaway concepts.
The Newtons run Karma Kitchen, making serviced commercial kitchens available to anyone from bakers running a daily market stall to delivery-only brands which solely serve takeaway food for Deliveroo and Uber Eats.
They’ve seen a big increase in customers thanks to these Deliveroo and Uber Eats-enabled “virtual restaurants.” Chances are, if you’ve been ordering takeaway from a new restaurant brand in London through an app this year, it might have been made in a Karma Kitchen space.
Headcount: 8 Previous rank: New entry
69. Buzzy Balderton’s James Wise and Laura Connell
Laura Connell is a relative newcomer to Balderton, a principal at the London-based venture capital firm since the summer of 2018. Along with partner Daniel Waterhouse, Connell leads Balderton’s interesting new “secondary” fund, which lets the VC firm buy into hot, highly valued tech firms by buying out early shareholders.
Prior to Balderton, her varied career involved a five-year stint at Goldman Sachs and conducting neuroscience research at Imperial College in London.
James Wise, meanwhile, is a partner at Balderton and led the firm’s original investment into fashion community Depop, which this year raised $62 million from US firm General Atlantic. He’s also backed health startup Kaia Health and 3D-printing firm 3D Hubs.
68. Niantic’s new creative play specialist, Alex Fleetwood
Alex Fleetwood is the British entrepreneur behind Sensible Object, a startup rethinking board games in the digital age.
In June 2019, the company sold to Niantic, the American games firm that built the monster mobile hit “Pokémon Go.” Fleetwood now leads a London studio for Niantic that could work on cool concepts to follow up on its success.
The ex-Channel 4 employee and University of York alumnus is also long-established on the creative play scene, having previously been involved with the real-world game consultancy Hide&Seek.
Headcount: 15 Previous rank: New entry Twitter: @ammonite
67. Joy Foster, the woman helping women upskill women
Joy Foster is the founder and managing director of TechPixies, an online learning startup that teaches digital skills to help women return to work or start a business.
Offering courses in social media, digital marketing, and more, Foster’s firm has helped hundreds of women upskill since its inception in 2015. It received £150,000 in female-led funding in March 2019 to fully digitize its social media course, and was named “Startup of the Year” at the 2018 Women in Business awards.
Originally hailing from Colorado, Foster has been widely recognised for her entrepreneurship and advocacy. She now lives in Oxford – where TechPixies is based – speaks three languages, and is currently training for an Ironman race.
Headcount: 5 Twitter: @techpixiejoy Previous rank: New entry
66. Ian Levy, Britain’s cybersecurity chief keeping a keen eye on Huawei
Ian Levy is a director at the National Cyber Security Centre, a public-facing arm of the British intelligence service GCHQ.
This year, he’s had his hands full: Britain, like other US-allied countries, has been caught in the crossfire between the Trump administration and Chinese tech giant Huawei.
The US has been furiously pressuring allies not to use Huawei’s 5G telecoms kit, citing national security concerns, while the the company denies this and claims the allegation is a political ploy designed to shift the balance in the US-China trade war.
Tasked with sifting through the spin and mentions of “backdoors” is Levy. He has adopted a slightly different stance on the Chinese tech giant, shifting focus away from state interference and towards incompetence. He told BBC Panorama that the firm’s security was “shoddy” and said it was “engineering like it’s back in the year 2000.”
Previous rank: New entry
65. Timo Boldt, a meal kit supremo with bags of cash
Timo Boldt is the German-born, UK-based cofounder and CEO of Gousto, a meal kit retailer he set up with his friend James Carter in 2012. In 2019 it banked £48 million across two rapid-fire funding rounds, most recently a £30m Series F in July.
In 2013, Boldt’s idea for Gousto featured on Dragon’s Den, a popular UK television show where entrepreneurs pitch their businesses to high-profile investors, receiving two offers of investment from the “dragons.”
Before diving into entrepreneurship in 2012, Boldt worked for BMW and then Rothschild.
Total funding amount: $137.7 million Headcount: 251-500 Previous rank: 44
64. The social media star who came out via YouTube
British YouTuber Daniel Howell came out in a 45-minute video posted on his channel during Pride Month in June. “Spoiler alert: I’m not straight,” he said, adding: “We live a heteronormative world…What it means is that people are presumed to be straight. If you’re not, then at some point you have to ‘come out.'”
He continued: “Here I am, aged 27, and my sexual preference is seemingly still a vague, debatable, confusing, impenetrable, mystery.”
The Berkshire-born influencer’s honesty about his sexuality, and his admission that it had triggered some mental health issues in the past, felt significant even in the hyper-honest universe of YouTube. It showed how social media could be a force for inspiration and hope among younger watchers. And it was a positive moment in a year when YouTube has come under fire by the LGBTQ community for, among other things, declining to remove videos of a prominent right-wing personality containing homophobic slurs.
Howell’s video hit the top trending spot on YouTube and has accumulated nearly 10 million views since.
Previous rank: New entry Twitter: @danielhowell
63. Robot chef builder Barney Wragg
Barney Wragg is cofounder and CEO of Karakuri, a startup that uses space-age robot chefs to help restaurants, caterers, and food retailers prepare meals more quickly and precisely.
Karakuri’s two models of robot chef, Marley and DK-One, can determine exactly how much of each ingredient a meal contains, and even how many calories it contains – opening the door to consumers precisely customizing their food, from the number of calories in their burger to the amount of chocolate in their brownie.
One of Wragg’s cofounders is Brent Hoberman, the founder of Lastminute.com, who also backed Karakuri as part of a $9 million seed funding round in May 2019. The fundraise was led by Ocado, a major UK online food retailer that uses Karakuri’s tech.
Wragg previously worked as CEO of The Really Useful Group, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s theatre and media company.
Headcount: 10 Total amount raised: $8.7 million Previous rank: New entry Twitter: @barney_wragg
62. Diversity VC, which is changing the face of venture capital
Diversity VC does what it says on the tin: It aims to make venture capital more diverse. As well as helping VC firms hire and build more varied teams, the nonprofit – which has five cofounders, including UK-based Check Warner, Lillian Li and Travis Winstanley – conducts original research into the state of the VC industry.
This year, Warner, Li, Winstanley, and their colleagues launched a five-week paid internship for budding venture capitalists, covering VC essentials such as the evaluation of pitches, raising funds, and sourcing founders.
A Diversity VC study published in July 2019 found that just 30% of VC personnel are female. It also found that 63% of UK VC firms have no women at all in senior roles.
61. Daniel Hegarty, UK tech’s unconventional mortgage-broker
Daniel Hegarty, it’s fair to say, is not your typical mortgage-broker. A heavily tattooed former guitarist who wrote and performed with the likes of Pink, the Sugababes and Robbie Williams, the 37-year-old is now founder of Habito, a mortgage broker website and app.
Hegarty’s firm offers a suite of free, online mortgage broking services. These range from advice to first-time buyers, to services for buy-to-let landlords and people looking to remortgage.
In July of this year, Habito branched out from brokerage into the mortgage market itself, launching a buy-to-let mortgage service aimed at individual landlords. It also raised a further £5 million in a venture round in August 2019, taking its total funds raised to £29 million.
Habito has also courted some controversy with an edgy ad campaign that prompted dozens of complaints to the UK’s advertising regulator.
Headcount: 160 Total amount raised: $36.2 million Previous rank: New entry Twitter: @dh_habito
60. Nicola Mendelsohn, tasked with holding down the fort for Facebook in Britain
Nicola Mendelsohn is the head honcho for Facebook’s operations in the UK, helping steer the social network through turbulent times, including the ongoing fallout from the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
In June 2019, Facebook announced it would open a third office in London – this one making room for 500 employees, with 20% focused on AI. Mendelsohn, 47, also got some positive personal news at the end of 2018, with her blood cancer going into remission.
Previous rank: 70 Twitter handle: @nicolamen
59. Ross Bailey, the 27-year-old Brit who’s trying to spruce up the high street
Ross Bailey is the CEO of Appear Here, a UK startup that helps businesses find temporary pop-up spaces to rent in London, Paris, and New York. It has been dubbed the “Airbnb of retail.”
Since Bailey launched the company in 2013, he has enabled more than 200,000 brands to find short-term leases and aided aspiring entrepreneurs, including a banker who took a two-week vacation to set up a sandwich shop, to trial new ideas. “Anyone can have an idea and it doesn’t need to be forever,” he said in a conversation with Business Insider in May 2019.
The company has raised $21.4 million in funding over the years and counts designer Diane von Furstenberg, Simon Property Group CEO David Simon, and Net-a-Porter founder Natalie Massenet among its investors.
Total amount raised: $21.4 million Headcount: 90 Previous rank: New entry Twitter: @RossABailey
58. Enterprise specialists Scott Sage and Krishna Visvanathan
Scott Sage and Krishna Visvanathan are the pair behind Crane Venture Partners, which raised its first $90 million seed fund in June 2019 to back European enterprise startups.
To date, they have backed the AI-powered identity-checking startup Onfido and buzzy security firm Tessian. The duo originally met while working at DFJ.
Visvanathan, a veteran investor, believes Europe is overdue for its next enterprise titan, having already produced semiconductor firm ARM and SAP. “We believe we will start to see, in the next five to 10 years, emerge from Europe, a giant global category leader in the enterprise space,” he told Business Insider. “Hopefully, we’ll back one or two of those.”
57. Amazon’s UK boss Doug Gurr, raising wages and regulator eyebrows
Douglas Gurr is the man Jeff Bezos tasked with overseeing a workforce of nearly 30,000 people in the UK, the majority of which work in warehouses, shipping goods to tens of millions of customers across Britain and Europe.
In May 2019, Gurr was appointed a director at Deliveroo as part of Amazon’s investment in the buzzy British food-delivery company. But whether he will ultimately take his place on the board remains to be seen, as the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) examines the deal amid antitrust concerns.
Following pressure from US Senator and presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, workers in the UK (and the US) also got a pay rise under Gurr late last year: £10.50 an hour for those in London and £9.50 across the rest of the country.
Previous rank: 94
56. Cherry Freeman, the LoveCrafts cofounder now sourcing deals at Hiro Capital
Cherry Freeman is the cofounder of LoveCrafts, a community for knitting and craft enthusiasts.
Meanwhile, Freeman has stepped back from LoveCrafts and is now eyeing new ventures, cofounding investment firm Hiro Capital in January 2019 – focusing on finding games, esports opportunities, and digital sports startups to turbo-charge with extra cash.
Previous rank: 14 on Business Insider’s 2017 list
55. Vishal Chatrath, CEO of AI company Prowler.io running with the Silicon Valley giants
For a small company, Prowler.io has been punching well above its weight.
The Cambridge-based startup develops AI to help companies make decisions from how to organise their financial portfolios to how to set up their supply chains. And it’s having a good year.
In May 2019, Prowler raised $24 million at a $100 million valuation from a group of investors including Chinese giant Tencent, which it said it would use to push into new markets, including education.
Prowler researchers then won the Best Paper award at the International Conference on Machine Learning in June, alongside a paper submitted by Google researchers.
Total amount raised: $50 million Headcount: 112 Previous rank: New entry Twitter: @vishalchatrath
54. Alastair Bathgate, who helped build a $1 billion software-automation firm before it was cool
Alastair Bathgate is the CEO of Blue Prism, a UK-based software-automation firm.
Founded all the way back in 2001, Blue Prism has historically flown somewhat under the radar, despite going public in 2016 and achieving a valuation of around $1 billion.
But Bathgate and his team were well ahead of the game. Software automation is a rapidly growing area, and venture capital investors are taking increasing interest in early-stage rival firms. Romanian competitor UiPath recently generated a $7 billion valuation with its newest funding round. As a land grab emerges, this British firm will be one to watch.
In June 2019, Blue Prism bought rival Thoughtonomy for a reported $100 million.
Total amount raised: $60.7 million Headcount: 703 (globally) Previous rank: New entry Twitter: @alastairPRSM
53. Niklas Zennström, the billionaire overseeing one of the biggest investment funds in European tech
European tech veteran Nikolas Zennström co-founded Skype and also set up Atomico, one of Europe’s biggest venture capital firms.
Atomico has some high ambitions, and raised a monster $765 million fund in 2017. Zennström and his team appear to now be directing that cash into a wide range of investments, with some focus on sustainable businesses, including childcare startup Koru Kids and flying taxi startup Lilium.
The firm is currently in the midst of change after Atomico’s cofounder, Mattias Ljungman, announced his departure in July 2019 to set up his own early-stage fund.
52. Sophie Hill has created a luxury online boutique that exists entirely on messaging apps
Sophie Hill launched Threads Styling in 2009 after working as a buyer for Arcadia Group. It was initially a personal shopping service, where customers could connect with shoppers by message. It has since evolved to become a social media and chat-based shopping platform.
In a recent interview with The Times, Hill explained that she initially set up the business as a way to help wealthy people travelling through London to shop more easily; it has since spread to New York and Hong Kong.
The idea is that customers can flick through stylized pictures of designer products on Instagram or Snapchat and then swipe to connect with a personal shopper who can either arrange for the sale and delivery of the item or help them to find something else.
Last year, Threads raised $20 million to aid its global expansion. The company opened offices in New York and Hong Kong in 2018.
Total amount raised: $20 million Headcount: 140 Previous rank: New entry
51. Harry Franks, the man insuring the gig economy
Zego cofounder Harry Franks is the insurance entrepreneur who hates talking about insurance.
Zego’s goal is to adapt to the new world of flexible working, gig economy jobs, and the sharing economy with equally flexible insurance. The company, for example, offers scooter insurance designed for drivers who switch between apps like Uber Eats and Deliveroo.
Franks himself concocted the idea after working at Deliveroo and finding traditional insurers struggled with the concept of the gig economy. The personable Franks prefers to talk about changing consumer needs and habits rather than the back-end technicalities of coming up with flexible insurance policies.
Zego raised a $42 million Series B to help its expansion plans in June this year.
Total amount raised: $51.7 million Previous Rank: New entry Twitter: @HarryFranksZego
50. Jay Hunt, spending Apple’s billions on British TV shows
2019 was the year that Apple finally got into TV.
At a glitzy announcement event in March, CEO Tim Cook welcomed mega-stars including Jennifer Aniston and Oprah Winfrey to the stage as he unveiled a raft of original content for Apple’s newly christened subscription video-streaming service, Apple TV Plus.
In the audience was Jay Hunt, the former director or programmes at Channel 4 who is responsible for spearheading Apple TV Plus projects in the UK. Much of her work remains under wraps ahead of the service’s planned November launch, but she has commissioned the BBC to make a series about the last days of the dinosaurs, directed by Jon Favreau.
Hunt made a rare public appearance in June 2019, when she told a House of Lords committee that Apple’s investment in the UK will be “meaningful.”
Previous rank: 22
49. Patrick Pichette, the former Google CFO spotting investment opportunities in London
Patrick Pichette was the longtime chief financial officer of Google before he quit in 2015 to chill out and travel the world.
Since then he has climbed mountains with his kids, completed several Iron Man contests, and even bumped into former Alphabet chairman Eric Schmidt at Everest.
He joined Canada’s iNovia Capital in February 2019, setting up its London office. Now he’s seeking out cool European startups to fund.
Previous rank: New entry Twitter: @pichette
48. The lab-grown diamond jewelers, Jessica Warch and Sidney Neuhaus
Jessica Warch and Sidney Neuhaus both come from diamond-trading families in Antwerp and wanted to get into the family business – but disliked the industry’s “old-fashioned, old-minded” way of doing things.
Having studied in London and worked at other fast-growing UK startups Appear Here and Threads, the two childhood friends decided to strike out on their own and launch Kimai, an online shopping site for lab-grown diamonds. The pair hustled to get themselves noticed and, after a lot of cold emails, managed to get onto Meghan Markle’s radar.
The royal was seen wearing a pair of lab-grown diamonds from Kimai in January this year, and now the pair have big plans to relaunch their site and boost their brand as interest in lab-grown diamonds grows.
Previous rank: New entry
47. Carolina Brochado, SoftBank tech’s freshest voice
Carolina Brochado is a venture capital investor at SoftBank’s Vision Fund, and one of the few investors it has recruited not from Deutsche Bank but the European VC community.
She specialises in marketplaces and financial startups among other areas and her appointment is good news for European startups hoping for a look into SoftBank’s billions.
Brochado was previously a partner at European venture capital firm Atomico, announcing her departure in December 2018 before jumping ship to SoftBank. While there, she invested in Spanish logistics firm OnTruck and peer-to-peer lending marketplace Fat Llama.
Previous rank: 56 Twitter: @ctbrochado
46. The fintech founders helping people get debt-free
Asesh Sarkar, Dan Cobley and Daniel Shakhani are the cofounders of Salary Finance.
Set up in 2015, Salary Finance partners with employers to offer a range of employee benefits aimed at improving their financial wellbeing. Ultimately, Salary Finance aims to help employees get debt-free and save money.
Its products and services include salary-linked loans and savings accounts, as well as a tool that lets employees access their pay as they earn it, rather than in one block at the end of the month. In August of this year, it completed a $20 million Series B funding round aimed at scaling its platform in the US, taking its total amount raised to over $100 million.
45. Richard Corbett, Bird’s UK chief trying to get the UK to embrace dockless scooters
Dockless scooter companies are having a hard time breaking ground in Britain. The pint-sized vehicles are technically banned from riding both on the roads and on the pavements in Britain due to two separate laws – one of which is from 1835 and was originally designed to keep carriages off the pavement.
Richard Corbett is trying to change this. He’s the UK boss for Bird, which along with Lime is one of the biggest dockless scooter startups to have come out of Silicon Valley.
He has been active in lobbying to change the archaic laws preventing scooters from riding free in the land of hope and glory, and in November 2018 the company was the first to actually get commercial scooters out and about in Britain – though they are restricted to the modest confines Olympic Park in London.
Total amount raised: $548 million Headcount: 7 (in the UK) Previous rank: New entry Twitter: @RichardCorbett_
44. Caspar Lee, a YouTube vlogger turned entrepreneur
British-South African internet star Caspar Lee made a name for himself vlogging on YouTube, doing interviews and sketches and collaborating with celebrities such a Ed Sheeran, Kevin Hart, and Maise Williams. His main channel, Caspar, now has over 7.3 million subscribers.
In 2017, Lee shifted his energy to new ventures, cofounding social media marketing platform, Influencer.com and becoming its chief innovation officer.
In 2018, he cofounded Margrarvine Management, a talent management agency that supports digitally native stars and which is backed by IMG, and in 2019 he helped to establish an investment club for creators to invest in young companies.
Previous rank: New entry Twitter: @Caspar_Lee
43. Herman Narula and Rob Whitehead, head honchos at the buzzy Improbable
Gaming technology firm Improbable has spent 2019 nailing down new gaming partnerships and acquisitions to show off its SpatialOS simulation software. It remains one of the few British startups backed by investment giant SoftBank, which poured $500 million into the firm in 2016.
In February 2019, the business hired former DreamWorks and EA executive Lincoln Wallen as its CTO. Cofounder and founding CTO Rob Whitehead took up the role of chief product officer, focused on developing Improbable’s core product, SpatialOS.
And in September, the firm bought games studio Midwinter Entertainment, which is developing a game running on SpatialOS called “Scavengers.” The idea is to develop innovative features to run in “Scavengers,” then package that up and sell them on to third-party developers.
The firm has had a few road-bumps this year too – there was a weird fight with game engine firm Unity over terms that was eventually resolved, as well as the closure of “Worlds Adrift,” a much-promoted game which ran on SpatialOS.
42. Eileen Burbidge, the Monzo backer with fingers in every pie
Eileen Burbidge is general partner at Passion Capital, with investments in dozens of early-stage startups including neo-bank Monzo.
Apart from the full-time job of investing, Burbidge juggles several other high-profile roles with aplomb.
She serves as the UK Treasury’s special envoy for fintech, and is a tech ambassador for the Mayor of London. She sits on the board of Tech City and is regularly spotted doing punditry at 5am on the BBC, suggesting the secret to her success is never getting any shut-eye.
Previous rank: 86 Twitter: @eileentso
41. Azmat Yusuf, the man revolutionizing everyone’s commute
Azmat Yusuf has been quietly building a transportation powerhouse in Citymapper, the free transport app that shows you the best way to travel through a city by public transport. It blazed a trail for consumer transportation apps, and some of its features are now being copied by giants like Uber and Google.
Yusuf studied at the University of Pennsylvania, before going on to an MBA at the prestigious INSEAD in France. He worked at World Bank and Google before starting Citymapper in 2011.
This year, Citymapper launched a novel new product – a subscription travel-card that bundles different transport options together. Citymapper has legions of devoted users, but there has long been the question hanging over it of how it can make money; the Citymapper Pass offers one possible revenue stream for the company.
Total amount raised: $50 million Headcount: 52 Previous rank: 32
40. Ian Russell sparked a debate on self-harm after his teen daughter Molly took her own life, prompting Instagram to change one of its policies
Ian Russell is the father of Molly Russell, the British teen who tragically took her own life in 2017.
After her death, her family discovered distressing material about depression and suicide on her Instagram account and felt this contributed to her death.
Ian Russell spoke publicly about his concerns in an interview with the BBC in January 2019, prompting a national debate about social media, its popularity with younger users, and the potentially detrimental impacts it could have. Up until this point, Facebook-owned Instagram had escaped close scrutiny around how it impacted users, being seen as the friendlier, more wholesome version of Facebook.
Nationwide sympathy for the Russell family intensified pressure on politicians to regulate social media firms for harmful content, and on the companies themselves to alter their policies.
This year, the government published its proposals for regulating harmful content on the internet. And Instagram boss Adam Mosseri announced that the company was changing its policies and would not longer allow graphic images which contain self-harm to be posted on the platform.
Previous rank: New entry
39. The woman helping Snapchat make money in new markets
Claire Valoti is Snap’s international VP overseeing every market outside of the US where Snapchat operates. She’s one of the most senior executives at the ephemeral photo-sharing app and an ad-industry veteran, joining in 2015 after working at Facebook.
The London-based exec’s role is now increasingly important as the US reaches internet saturation, and firms like Snap increase their focus on emerging markets.
Snap opened its first India office in August 2019, and released a redesigned version of its Android app in part to better appeal to these promising new markets.
Previous rank: 30 Twitter: @clairevaloti
38. British TikTok duo Amardeep “Magic” Singh and Pavan Singh
Married London couple Amardeep (aka “Magic Singh”) and Pavan Singh have found unexpected fame on viral video app TikTok, showing off their respective skills as a magician and henna artist.
While YouTube has become notorious for rewarding inflated personalities and inflammatory content, TikTok’s most famous stars are best known for their skills, be it dancing, lip-syncing, or, in the London-born duo’s case, magic tricks and henna.
“Magic” Singh makes eye-popping videos showing off his capabilities as a card sharp or illusionist, while Pavan makes soothing, inspiring footage of beautiful henna designs.
37. Hayden Wood and Amit Gudka are shaking up the renewable energy market
Hayden Wood and Amit Gudka met five years ago while working in the energy sector. Wood was a management consultant at Bain working with large energy suppliers and Gudka was a former Barclays energy trader. The duo were frustrated by seeing customers being forced to pay a premium for green energy and set about creating an affordable renewable energy company called Bulb.
They have been shaking up the market ever since. Bulb has signed up over 1.4 million households and remains one of the most competitive energy companies in terms of price. In 2018, it was listed as one of the fastest growing businesses in the UK.
It hasn’t been totally rosy for the young founders though – there has been increased scrutiny on its workng culture, after an investigation by the Telegraph in September 2019 reported some tensions at the firm.
Total amount raised: $74 million Headcount: 450 Previous rank: New entry Twitter: @haydenwd
36. Dr. Sandra Wachter, the academic holding AI to account
Dr. Sandra Wachter was made associate professor at Oxford University in May 2019, where she is a part of the Oxford Internet Institute. She specialises in the intersections between AI, ethics, and law, and has done extensive work on making algorithms easier to scrutinize for bias.
Her work on “counterfactual explanations,” i.e. statements which reveal which criteria algorithms are picking up on to make decisions, was picked up by Google in September 2018 and worked into its “What If” analysis tool.
Previous rank: New entry Twitter: @SandraWachter5
35. Brent Hoberman, accelerating a century of startups
Lastminute.com cofounder Brent Hoberman is one of the best-connected investors in Europe and his startup accelerator, Founders Factory, hit a couple of milestones this year.
The company has now helped build 100 startups, ranging from Karakuri, a robotics firm that makes personalised meals, to Kukua, which is using technology to improve children’s education in Africa.
Founders Factory also secured its eighth corporate partner – FTSE 100 firm Reckitt Benckiser, which will help release millions of pounds for ambitious new startups. Marks & Spencer, L’Oreal, and Guardian Media Group are among those to have previously signed up.
Hoberman has other hats too. He is also a partner at venture capital firm Firstminute Capital, and runs the Founders Forum, a network of some of the biggest names in tech and business that stages events around the world.
Total amount raised: Undisclosed Headcount: 70 Previous rank: 23 Twitter: @brenthoberman
34. Dominic Cummings, the AI advocate now influencing British politics
Dominic Cummings is a high-profile political consultant working for Prime Minister Boris Johnson since July.
The 47-year-old is historically best-known for his work as cofounder and director of Vote Leave, the official campaign for Britain to leave the EU in the 2016 Brexit referendum. Cummings has always been open about the importance of digital tech and data science to the outcome – although whether social media wizardry really did persuade half the country to vote to leave the EU is still not clear.
Digital appears to be a key plank of Cummings’ current role too. He is believed to have orchestrated hundreds of pro- Boris Johnson Facebook ads since Johnson became Prime Minister. Cummings has also signaled that he is also an advocate of OpenAI, the nonprofit AI research group cofounded by Elon Musk. He was even spotted donning an OpenAI-branded t-shirt when Johnson first became PM.
Previous rank: New entry
33. Victor Riparbelli, the CEO trying to harness deepfakes for good
“Deepfakes” – the use of AI to modify videos to make people appear to do or say things they haven’t – have become a frequent and often disconcerting refrain in 2019’s news cycle.
But some, like Victor Riparbelli, see commercial potential in the unsettling tech. He’s the CEO at London startup Synthesia, which is looking to develop deepfake technology for business uses.
Synthesia had its first outing in late 2018, when it made a BBC news anchor appear to speak Spanish, Mandarin, and Hindi. In April 2019, the company applied its software to the face of David Beckham in a campaign video for Malaria Must Die, in which Beckham’s voice changed seamlessly into that of nine different malaria survivors all speaking different languages – with perfect lip synchronization.
The company raised $3.1 million in April this year, and its longterm goal is to break into the movie industry’s special-effects scene.
Total amount raised: $4.1 million Headcount: 16 Twitter: @vriparbelli Previous rank: New entry
32. The man turning driverless cars into a reality in Europe, Stan Boland
Stan Boland is CEO of FiveAI, an autonomous driving startup based in Cambridge.
The company began a data-gathering exercise for its driverless vehicles in August 2018 but in April 2019 put its cars on London roads for the first time. Now it seems the company is gearing up for the next big step – letting people ride in the cars.
FiveAI’s director of public policy Lucy Yu told Business Insider in June that the company was gearing up to start public demos in the “next few months.”
FiveAI’s competition is stiff, as it is a small startup looking to break ground before Silicon Valley powerhouses like Google, Uber, and Apple.
Previous rank: 9 Total amount raised: $37 million Headcount: 150 Twitter: @stanboland
31. Tim Bradshaw, the FT journalist who broke the news of Jony Ive’s departure from Apple
Financial Times journalist Tim Bradshaw is the envy of his peers after breaking one of the biggest stories in technology this year – that Apple’s longtime design chief Jony Ive would be leaving the company.
Bradshaw has been covering technology for more than a decade, moving to San Francisco in 2012 to cover the major players up close. He then returned to London in late 2018 as the newspaper’s global tech correspondent.
Whatever magic Bradshaw worked with contacts in San Francisco evidently paid off. Ive gave Bradshaw an exclusive interview that lasted nearly an hour, explaining his reasons for stepping down and his future plans. It was a landmark moment in Apple’s history, and Apple-watchers and obsessives will be consulting that Ive interview for years to come.
Despite the success, Bradshaw has not apparently been infected by Silicon Valley utopianism except perhaps in one respect: He’s swapped his Brompton folding bicycle for an (illicit) electric scooter.
Previous rank: New entry Twitter: @Tim
30. Nicky Morgan, the politician who will (try to) regulate the internet
Away from the Brexit storm ripping through British politics, in July 2019 Conservative MP Nicky Morgan stepped into one of the most quietly important jobs in Cabinet: Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
Why? The UK’s Conservative government has set about regulating the internet with a suite of new laws that promise to be among the most comprehensive in the world. This includes sweeping powers to fine social media firms billions if they fail to deal with toxic content, like hate speech.
Alongside this initiative, Morgan will have a part to play in wildly ambitious (and much-delayed) plans to age-block porn in the UK, and the Treasury’s ambitions to introduce big new taxes on the revenues of tech firms.
Culture secretaries don’t tend to stick around for long, but Morgan has a chance to shape the internet for years to come.
Previous rank: New entry Twitter: @NickyMorgan01
29. Sonali De Rycker, one of London’s top investors
Sonali De Rycker is a London-based venture capitalist at Accel Partners, where she’s worked since 2008. De Rycker also sits on the boards of several tech firms, including Monzo, whose founder Tom Blomfield also features on our list.
Since joining Accel, the Mumbai-born VC has tended to focus her investments on fintech companies, enterprise software firms and the consumer internet space. She’s been an early backer of several successful European startups, including Spotify and online ticket marketplace Seatwave.
In October 2018, De Rycker led an £85 million ($104 million) Series E fundraise for Monzo. Despite posting net losses of £47.2 million ($58 million) for the year ending February 2019, Monzo’s valuation has since grown to £2 billion ($2.6 billion) after its Series F fundraise in June.
28. Charlie Brooker, gamifying TV through “Bandersnatch”
Charlie Brooker made the list last year for his sparkling, zeitgeist-capturing Netflix drama “Black Mirror.” A year on, the British writer and producer is back again – this time for using the dystopian show as a vehicle for a TV experience quite unlike anything before it.
Inspired by the Choose Your Own Adventure books, Brooker created “Bandersnatch,” the darkly comic tale of a video game developer, which viewers control by answering a series of questions that can take the story in wildly different, dark directions.
“Bandersnatch” was released by Netflix with little warning in late December 2018 and immediately went viral as transfixed viewers watched (perhaps “played” is more accurate) the show over the holidays. Die-hard audiences vied to complete the show and experience all of its various conclusions – hinting at a radical future of gamified televsion.
Netflix can’t get enough of Brooker and he is now in talks with the streaming service over an exclusive deal, according to industry trade magazine Broadcast.
Previous rank: 49 Twitter: @charltonbrooker
27. Roland Lamb, who is reinventing musical instruments
The unconventional nature of ROLI’s products reflect the unconventional background of its founder and CEO. When he was just 18, Roland Lamb emigrated to Japan to live in a Zen Monastery, before travelling the world for several years as a jazz musician and visual artist.
The music tech firm’s most well-known instrument is the “Seaboard,” an electronic keyboard which lacks discrete keys. Instead of keys, the Seaboard comprises a single, continuous, touch-sensitive surface that vastly increases the number of notes you can play.
In June 2019, ROLI announced the Lumi, another interactive keyboard whose colourful lights are designed to help teach you play music. It is set to ship in October.
Total amount raised: Over $50 million Headcount: 101-250 Previous rank: 43 Twitter: @RolandLamb
26. Carlo Gualandri, serial entrepreneur taking on expenses
Italian tech entrepreneur Gualandri made headlines earlier this year when his buzzy startup Soldo raised $61 million from VCs including Dawn Capital, Accel, and Battery Ventures.
The expense management platform is just one of the many businesses founded by Gualandri who has a history of building companies from scratch – such as Virgilio, FinecoBank, and Gioco Digitale.
Over 20 years, Gualandri has taken on a variety of issues across disruptive tech including banking, internet services, gaming and payments.
Total amount raised: $83.2 million Headcount: 120 Previous rank: New entry Twitter: @cgualandri
25. Matt Robinson, the man who guarantees your move
Matt Robinson is the CEO of Nested, one of a flurry of property-related startups in the UK. The company essentially guarantees that anyone putting their property on the market will sell their house – a brave proposition in Brexit Britain.
The firm secured a huge $150 million fundraise in November 2018, suggesting investors very much believe in the market.
It also claims to be the only agent that lets all its customers sell their homes chain-free by putting aside a cash sum – which is up to 97% of their home’s expected sale price – towards buying a home. Once a sale is finalized, Nested takes back what it advanced, plus fees.
Robinson is a serial entrepreneur, having cofounded GoCardless in 2010 (he still sits on its board). He also founded a company for training waiters while still a schoolboy, which grew to an annual turnover of around £30,000.
Total amount raised: $206.6 million Headcount: 51-100 Previous rank: New entry Twitter: @mattjackrob
24. The Facebook statesman, Nick Clegg
Brits will find Facebook’s new head of global policy awfully familiar – it’s Nick Clegg, the former deputy Prime Minister and ex-Liberal Democrat leader.
Hired by the Silicon Valley tech giant in October of 2018, the 52-year-old politician brings a deep understanding of the corridors of power and how regulatory battles can play out, essential experience as the company faces multi-billion dollar fines and the growing risk of antitrust action.
Plus, more experience leading an idealistic organisation forced to face the harsh realities of power and public scrutiny can’t hurt either.
Previous rank: New entry Twitter: @nick_clegg
23. Joanna Bryson, the member of Google’s disastrous AI ethics council who gave the company a piece of her mind
Joanna Bryson is an associate professor in computer scientist at the University of Bath who this year found herself at the centre of a drama about Google’s botched AI ethics board.
In March 2019, Google set up an ethics council to address public concerns about the use of machine learning and facial recognition. Bryson was appointed to the council.
But the council didn’t last long. Employees lashed out against the inclusion of another board member, Kay Coles James, a conservative think-thank head with a history of anti-immigrant and anti-LGBTQ rhetoric.
Google killed the group off less than a week after announcing it, and Bryson expressed her displeasure in a series of tweets. “I thought there were enough smart people at Google that there must be some process for either communicating or improving decisions,” she wrote.
Previous rank: New entry Twitter: @j2bryson
22. The DeepMind founders: Demis Hassabis, Shane Legg, and Mustafa Suleyman
In 2019 DeepMind, arguably the UK’s biggest AI success story, entered its tenth year. The company was acquired by Google for £400 million in 2014 and won acclaim in 2015 for designing a computer programme that bested a professional human player at the Chinese board game Go.
DeepMind has had a good year, publishing a paper on predicting acute kidney injury 48 hours before it happens, and producing a series of podcasts interviewing various researchers, engineers and CEO Demis Hassabis. That the firm chooses to maintain its headquarters in the UK is perceived as a boost for British tech.
Life has also become more complicated. The company increasingly has to navigate its position as a Google-owned entity, both a blessing and a liability. Google absorbed DeepMind’s applications arm into a new health unit in September, provoking some worry that Google could now access sensitive patient data from the UK’s health service.
Just prior to that integration, Bloomberg reported that one of DeepMind’s three cofounders, Mustafa Suleyman, had been “placed on leave.” Suleyman disputed this version of events, as did DeepMind.
“After ten hectic years, I’m taking some personal time for a break to recharge and I’m looking forward to being back in the saddle at DeepMind soon,” Suleyman tweeted.
21. Carol Kane & Mahmud Kamani, the masterminds behind the UK’s hottest fast fashion store
Carol Kane and Mahmud Kamani are the cofounders of Boohoo, the UK’s hottest fast fashion retailer that counts Asos, Primark, and Zara as its main competitors.
Since launching in 2006, the company has grown to become a $3.2 billion company with over 3,000 employees at its headquarters in Manchester, and acquired five other brands including California’s Nasty Gal and Pretty Little Thing. In the past five years, it has more than tripled its customer base.
In its most recent earnings results, Boohoo announced that it hit £1 billion ($1.23 billion) in sales for the first time between August 2018 and 2019.
Total amount raised: £50 million ($61.2 million) Headcount: 2,188 Previous rank: New entry
20. Ali Parsa, CEO of Babylon raising big money despite swirling controversy
Babylon Health, the company which promises you a GP in your pocket, has been the subject of some negative headlines over the last year. Wired ran a piece in March highlighting how the way Babylon Health signs up patients drains NHS resources, and Labour MP Andy Slaughter has called for an inquiry into the company. Speak to Babylon Health users though, and they love the ability to speak to a doctor via video call whenever they want.
Founder and CEO Ali Parsa, an Iranian-born entrepreneur and former Goldman Sachs banker, has focused on turbo-charging the firm’s growth and finances.
In August 2019, the company announced a huge $550 million funding round, including funding from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund – the first time the fund had put a major investment into a European startup.
Total amount raised: $635 million Headcount: 1500+ Previous rank: 39
19. Jony Ive, Apple’s famed design chief striking out on his own
Apple design chief Jony Ive stepped down from Apple in June 2019 after almost 27 years at the company.
The news sent shockwaves around the industry; Ive is a legendary figure at Apple, and his design sensibilities have influenced almost every modern consumer tech product on the market.
Ive was involved with conceiving Apple’s most important products – the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Mac, and iPod. He joined the company in the early 1990s when it was on the brink of bankruptcy and stayed on as it became the first publicly traded company in the US that is worth more than $1 trillion. He was one of the most company’s important executives, alongside current CEO Tim Cook and Apple’s famed late cofounder Steve Jobs – a former confidante of Ive.
In an interview with The Financial Times, Ive explained that he is leaving the company to launch his own independent design company called LoveFrom, which will count Apple as one of its main clients. “I’m actually looking forward to contributing in a different way to projects we’ve been working together on for, in some cases, many years,” he told the FT.
Ive’s departure from Apple may also give him an opportunity to spend more time in his native UK. Rumours have been floating among Apple insiders that, after Jobs’ death, Ive would move his family back to his homeland. He’s already a regular attendee at Goodwood, the British festival for classic cars. His wife, Heather Pegg, is also British.
Previous rank: New entry
18. The Oxford trio building the next AI unicorn
Husayn Kassai, Eamon Jubbawy, and Ruhul Amin are the founders of Onfido, an AI-powered identity-verification startup used by firms such as Deliveroo, Zipcar, and Square.
The youthful trio met at Oxford University and subsequently launched Onfido in 2012, and now run their company from London and San Francisco.
The buzzy startup raised $50 million this year from SBI Holdings, a SoftBank spinoff, and has pulled in $100 million from investors to date.
17. Money transfer legends Kristo Käärmann and Taavet Hinrikus
Kristo Käärmann and Taavet Hinrikus are the Estonian founders behind TransferWise, one of Europe’s most successful financial technology startups from the last decade.
Käärmann is a former management consultant who has been TransferWise’s chief executive since 2017. Hinrikus, meanwhile, has stepped back from day-to-day management and has stepped up his angel investments, backing payment API startup Fidel and AI startup Pactum in September 2019.
It’s been a strong year for the money transfer company, which broke ground in the US by bringing a travel debit card to American customers. In May it also saw its valuation more than doubt to $3.5 billion, following investment from Lead Edge Capital, Lone Pine, and Vitruvian Partners.
16. Jaden Ashman became a millionaire playing video games
15-year-old Jaden Ashman became a millionaire this year after being placed second along with his teammate at the Fortnite World Cup finals. Ashman will split the $2.25 million prize with his Dutch teammate, Dave Jong.
In an interview with the BBC, Ashman said he had been playing “Fortnite” since it was first released in 2017, practicing in his room for about eight hours a day, much to his mother’s annoyance.
“Me and my mum clash quite a lot,” he said. “She didn’t understand how it worked, so she thought I was spending eight hours a day in my room just wasting my time.”
“Fortnite” is the most popular video game in the world, with more than 250 million registered players. More than 40 million players participated in the qualifying events for the final. 50 duos and 100 solo players made it through, and were competing to take home a cut of the $30 million prize pool – the largest prize pool in the history of e-sports.
Previous rank: New entry Twitter: @WolfiezGG
15. Poppy Gustafsson, the UK-based Darktrace co-CEO steering the company out of the shadow of Mike Lynch
Poppy Gustafsson is the co-chief executive of British cybersecurity startup Darktrace, running the company with US-based Nicole Eagan.
The firm was born out of investment firm Invoke Capital, the investment vehicle set up by British tech entrepreneur and Autonomy founder Mike Lynch. Gustafsson and Eagan were both executives at Autonomy, a software firm which was bought by HP in 2011 in a blockbuster acquisition. They then went to Invoke Capital.
Darktrace doesn’t especially like to talk about the Autonomy connection, since Lynch is currently going through a $5 billion fraud trial in the UK and facing criminal charges in the US over the HP acquisition.
The company may never shake the association but it has hit some milestones to be proud of over the last year. The company hit unicorn status in 2018. And the firm disclosed healthy growth with a revenue jump of 93% in 2018 to £59.4 million ($78 million).
Total amount raised: $230 million Headcount: 1000 Previous rank: 60 Twitter: @PoppyGustafsson
14. Nikolay Storonsky, founder of fast-moving money-transfer startup Revolut
Revolut’s Nikolay Storonsky is a man of few words but many ideas.
Born in Russia, Storonsky started out as an fx trader at Credit Suisse who became increasingly frustrated by the poor rates he received when travelling abroad. He formed Revolut, alongside cofounder Vlad Yatsenko in 2015, and has since helped grow the business into the challenger bank with the most customers in Europe, with six million at last count.
Despite backing from some of the most esteemed names in VC, including Twitter funder Yuri Milner’s DST Global, Revolut has had its fair share of scandals in the past year related to its compliance.
Since then the company has boosted its pool of senior hires and continued to push into new regions with the launch of its Australian beta this year. Perhaps most significantly, in September 2019 news got out that Revolut is planning to hire 3,500 new staff as it pushes into 24 new markets.
The challenger bank has a unicorn valuation and has raised $336.4 million.
Total raised: $336.4 million Previous rank: 13 Twitter: @NStoronsky
13. Lila Ibrahim, DeepMind’s first-ever COO
Although DeepMind is ten years old, it was lacking a COO until last year.
Lila Ibrahim was hired on in April 2018 to help CEO Demis Hassabis mastermind the company’s next phase of growth. Questions have swirled about how the research-heavy DeepMind will turn a profit for Google in the long-run after being acquired in 2014, and this year some hints came out of how DeepMind could plug into Alphabet’s operations more broadly. In July, DeepMind researchers collaborated with Waymo, Google’s self-driving car company, to help make its cars smarter.
Ibrahim, the former COO of Coursera, will also be leading the company’s move out of Google’s London HQ and into its own building in 2020.
Headcount: 900 Previous rank: New entry
12. SoftBank’s purse-holder in chief, Rajeev Misra
Rajeev Misra is the CEO of SoftBank Investment Advisers, which manages the Japanese tech firm’s $100 billion Vision Fund. In other words, Misra helps to oversee the biggest tech investment firm on the planet.
India-born, London-based Misra is a banker by background and, although powerful, it is SoftBank chief executive Masayoshi Son who is thought to have the final say on the fund’s major investments.
It has been a wobbly year for the fund’s reputation. Pouring that amount of money into the tech ecosystem has distorted private company valuations, altered what it means to go public, and raised layered questions about investing and responsibility. Critics question the Vision Fund’s ongoing relationship with its main backer Saudi Arabia, which was behind the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.
There have also been some notable IPO flops from SoftBank-backed companies, including Uber and WeWork.
Misra remains bullish and has signalled that the fund doesn’t plan to alter its strategy. “Does it matter?” Misra said recently in response to questions about overvaluing firms. “We’re looking for [a] three times return.”
Previous rank: 12
11. Peter Ondrúška, who built AR tech so good Lyft bought it to build its self-driving cars
In 2016, Peter Ondrúška founded augmented reality startup Blue Vision Labs, which built a system which can enable users in virtual space to interact with one another with pinpoint accuracy.
Blue Vision’s tech caught the eye of Lyft, which – alongside archrival Uber – is racing to develop autonomous vehicles. The Californian ride-hailing firm saw the potential in Blue Vision’s technology, which could be put to another use: Using smartphone cameras to ingest street-level information in great detail, mapping vehicles’ surroundings.
In October 2019, news emerged that the ride-hailing company was acquiring Blue Vision Labs along with its 39 staff. Ondrúška is now a director of engineering for Lyft’s Level 5 autonomous vehicles division, and Lyft’s fleet of drivers are using the technology he grew at Blue Vision to gather hoards of data.
Twitter: @pondruska Previous rank: New entry
10. Anne Boden, expanding Starling Bank into Europe
Anne Boden is CEO of London-headquartered challenger bank Starling Bank, which is fast closing in on one million users. Starling Bank’s success, like others on this list, highlights London as a buzzing fintech ecosystem.
Having spent decades working for a number of banks in a variety of capacities, Boden led the charge to disrupt the financial system in 2014 and has since had major success with Starling despite having no VC funding. In September 2019, it launched a new online banking portal to help support small and medium businesses.
The CEO’s expertise comes from her time at Royal Bank of Scotland, ABN Amro, UBS, Standard Chartered, Lloyds, and Allied Irish Banks in a variety of roles, making the Welsh entrepreneur one of the more storied and experienced of London’s manifold disruptors.
Previous rank: 5 Twitter: @AnneBoden
9. Guillaume Pousaz raised Europe’s biggest ever Series A round of funding
Guillaume Pousaz is the 38-year-old Swiss entrepreneur behind Checkout.com, a UK payments company that was founded in 2012 and provides the technology for companies to handle customer payments, processing, risk and fraud assessment. Checkout counts Samsung, TransferWise, Adidas, and Virgin as some of its main clients.
Pousaz had been quietly building up the company over the past seven years without any outside investment until this year when he raised $230 million in a round of funding, Europe’s biggest ever Series A round which valued the company at a hefty $2 billion.
Pousaz believes that his considered expansion over the past few years is the reason for the company’s success. “If you want to build a big house, you better start with a good foundation,” he said in a recent conversation with Business Insider. “And I think that we’ve been building the foundation for years.”
Total amount raised: $230 million Headcount: 450+ Previous rank: New entry
8. Tania Boler, who is getting everyone to talk about improved medical devices for women
Tania Boler is the outspoken cofounder and CEO of Elvie, a startup selling female-friendly medical devices for women that raised $42 million in April 2019.
Her firm currently sells two main products. One is a silent, wearable breast pump that lets women pump any time, anywhere, and which Elvie claims is a world first. The other is a pelvic floor trainer and app that’s currently used by the NHS.
When the fundraise was announced, Boler told Business Insider she set up Elvie out of “a sense of anger” at the poor-quality “femtech” she encountered during her previous work as a women’s health campaigner. That work included a five-year stint as a director at Marie Stopes International, plus two years as a team leader for UNESCO’s HIV prevention programme.
Total funding amount: $53.8 million Headcount: 51-100 Previous rank: 26
7. Hiroki Takeuchi, the man at the heart of the GoCardless mafia
Hiroki Takeuchi is the CEO of payments firm GoCardless, which he cofounded in 2011. While his cofounders have branched off to found firms like banking startup Monzo and real-estate company Nested, Takeuchi has remained at the helm at GoCardless and guided it toward ever-greater success.
In February of this year, GoCardless announced a $75 million funding round from investors including GV, Google’s venture capital investment arm. Takeuchi, a former analyst at McKinsey, said the money would go toward GoCardless scaling up across Europe.
6. Will Shu, the man building a food-delivery empire
Will Shu is a cool customer and his food delivery firm Deliveroo is one of the UK’s fastest-growing and buzziest tech companies. But all scale-ups face challenges, and this year has thrown up some roadblocks.
There was intense speculation late last year that Deliveroo would either secure funding from SoftBank, or sell to its SoftBank-funded competitor Uber. Neither happened, leaving Deliveroo competing in Europe with well-entrenched local players or constantly up against the well-funded Uber Eats.
A $500 million capital injection, led by Amazon, looked to save the day – but that deal is on ice thanks to an investigation by the UK’s competition regulator. That probe is unlikely to move at tech’s usual breakneck speed.
The firm has also had some high-level executive turnover and some internal complaints about an intense culture – the natural price, perhaps, of scaling fast.
Shu is well-liked in the investor community, and has a reputation for discipline and focus. A founder who can convince Jeff Bezos to hand over the thick end of half a billion dollars won’t struggle to raise more capital.
Total amount raised: $1.5 billion Previous rank: 2 Twitter: @WillShuRoo
5. Rishi Khosla, the CEO behind Europe’s largest fintech fundraise
SoftBank is practically a byword for huge investments – but the Japanese tech giant’s recent outlay on UK fintech OakNorth is massive, even by its usual dizzying standards. Rishi Khosla, OakNorth’s cofounder and CEO, finalized a $390 million investment from SoftBank’s Vision Fund in February 2019.
The SoftBank deal formed part of a $440 million venture funding round for Khosla’s firm, the largest-ever investment round for a European fintech. Even more impressively for a unicorn, OakNorth is also profitable, recording £33.9 million ($41 million) in pre-tax profits in 2018.
Marketed by Khosla and his cofounder Joel Perlman as a bank “by entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs,” OakNorth lends to UK-based SMEs and is wholly cloud-hosted thanks to a partnership with Amazon Web Services. In its annual report for 2018, Khosla said Oaknorth had lent a total of $2.6 billion to British businesses.
Total amount raised: $1 billion Headcount: 501-1000 Previous rank: New entry
4. Ophelia Brown, the highly focused young investor who set up her own fund
Ophelia Brown is making waves in the UK venture capital scene after raising $85 million in March 2019 to launch a new tech venture capital firm, Blossom Capital.
Brown is something of a young star in European venture capital, having risen through the ranks at Index Ventures and then became general partner at LocalGlobe before setting up her own shop.
She and her team have plucked out a number of interesting bets for Blossom, including travel startup Duffel, AI firm Spell.AI, and peer-to-peer sharing marketplace Fat Llama.
Total amount raised: $85 million Headcount: 5 Previous rank: 75 Twitter: @ophelia_brown
3. Tom Blomfield, neo-banker on a mission
Founder and CEO of red-hot app-based bank Monzo, Tom Blomfield graduated with a law degree from Oxford before working in the payments industry as part of GoCardless.
He subsequently joined fellow Tech 100 honoree Anne Boden’s Starling Bank, before leaving to found Monzo in 2016.
To date, the challenger bank has brought on some two million customers and raised hundreds of millions in funding. 2019 was a blockbuster year for Monzo, launching in the US as it continues its global expansion with Blomfield at the helm.
Total amount raised: £324.7 million ($397.6 million) Headcount: 1,300 Previous rank: 8 Twitter: @t_blom
2. Maria Raga, the boss of London’s trendiest marketplace that’s helping teens get rich
Maria Raga took over the reins at Depop in 2016 and has since grown the company at a rapid rate, helping to make it the must-have shopping app for teens across the world.
Best described as a mix of Instagram and eBay, Depop is an easy way to buy and sell anything from clothing, shoes, and accessories to furniture and concert tickets directly from your phone.
With a fresh $62 million in the bank after a June 2019 funding round, Raga is now massively ramping up growth in the US. The plan is to scale “further and faster” in the States, and build a platform that finds and develops the fashion stars and trends of the future, she said in a recent conversation with Business Insider.
Total amount raised: $105.6 million Headcount: 196 Previous rank: 7 Twitter: @MRaga_Depop
1. Nigel Toon, building a futuristic chip powerhouse
Nigel Toon is the CEO of Bristol-based Graphcore, a next-generation chip company building new types of processors designed for an artificial intelligence-centric world. It’s a tough proposition, thanks to the perceived constraints on chip design and the fact Graphcore is competing with multibillion-dollar public rivals like Intel.
Toon is a seasoned executive and entrepreneur, having previously run chip firms Icera (which sold to Nvidia) and Picochip. Serial entrepreneurs of Toon’s mould are still relatively rare in the UK, with founders who have successfully exited previous businesses often heading to the other side of the table as venture capitalists, or moving to Silicon Valley.
In person, Toon is understated and focused. Although obviously passionate about making Graphcore into a world leader in next-generation chip tech, he isn’t a buzzword kind of guy. That, too, is refreshing.
It’s relatively early days in terms of adoption. Having spent $21.8 million on research and development in 2018, Graphcore has handed its technology to a handful of customers. Press reports suggest that some of Graphcore’s hottest blue-chip investors, Google’s DeepMind and BMW, are working on applications.
The company is now worth a weighty $1.7 billion after raising a further $200 million from blue-chip investors including BMW and Microsoft in December 2018, and is in the process of hiring 500 new staff as part of a massive expansion to Cambridge.
Total amount raised: $310 million Headcount: 400 Previous rank: 15