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HomeDebrett’s 500 2017Digital & Social

500

Digital & Social

Co-founder, Entrepreneur First
Alice Bentinck co-founded 'company builder' Entrepreneur First with Matt Clifford in 2011 and it is now a leading start-up accelerator, having created over 100 tech start-ups in London and Singapore. The duo also set up Code First: Girls, a free coding course for female students and graduates, as part of their offerings in support of entrepreneurs. Prior to founding EF, Bentinck worked as a consultant at McKinsey for two years. She has received a number of accolades and was appointed MBE in 2016 for her services to business.
Regional General Manager, Northern Europe, Uber
Jo Bertram joined Uber in 2013, just a year after it launched in London, and has since introduced it to 15 other UK cities and towns as well as Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden. The controversial company has had to contend with protests from traditional London cabbies as well as Uber drivers themselves over pay and employment terms, but its users in London alone now number around 2 million. Bertram has said that Uber's success comes down to a triumph of logic over sentiment. She worked for Accenture and McKinsey prior to Uber.
President, EMEA Business and Operations, Google
Heading up Google's operations in its largest market outside of the US, Matt Brittin is also lead spokesperson on controversial issues such as privacy, copyright and corporation tax. He has been credited with uniting the company's technical and sales teams in the UK, delivering a huge increase in revenues from UK customers to £4.6 billion. He joined Google as director of sales in 2007 from Trinity Mirror, prior to which he was a consultant at McKinsey. A keen athlete, Brittin cycled from Lands End to John O'Groats in 2011 and he also rowed for GB in the 1988 Olympics.
Partner, Passion Capital and Chair, Tech City UK
Venture capitalist Eileen Burbidge is one of three founding partners at Passion Capital, the go-to source of investment for tech entrepreneurs. In 2015 Burbidge was made a special envoy for fintech by George Osborne as part of a plan to drive the UK’s productivity and see it become a leading centre for financial innovation, and she is also chair of Tech City, the government-backed organisation supporting the UK’s digital economy. Burbidge studied Computer Science at the University of Illinois and worked for top technology firms including Palmsource, Yahoo and Skype, prior to founding Passion Capital.
Fashion and Beauty Vlogger and Author
Tanya Burr has been vlogging about fashion, beauty and baking since 2009, and her YouTube channel now has over 3.6 million subscribers. Burr’s down-to-earth videos, which feature make-up tutorials and document her daily life with husband and fellow vlogger Jim Chapman, have attracted sponsorship from companies such as Mars and Asos. Burr grew up in Norwich and, having completed a make-up course, worked on a beauty counter in a department store. In 2016 she published recipe book Tanya Bakes, a follow-up to her first book, Love, Tanya, which documented her journey to self-confidence.
CEO, Tech City UK
Tech City was set up by David Cameron in 2010 to support the East London technology firms making up the so-called Silicon Roundabout. It has since grown to work throughout the UK, offering support such as training programmes, advice and advocacy to digital entrepreneurs nationwide. Tech City recently secured a relaxation in visa application rules for for non-EU tech specialists to address a shortage of skilled coders in the UK. Gerard Grech has been CEO since 2014, having come to the tech sector via acoustic engineering. He began his career writing about music before completing an MBA and working for Orange in Paris.
YouTube Personality
Watford-born Olajide Olatunji, or KSI, is a rapper, actor and YouTube personality whose subscribers number almost 15 million, making his the second most popular UK channel only behind OneDirection's. His YouTube videos, which consist mainly of play and commentary on football video game FIFA, were estimated by Forbes to have earned him somewhere in the region of $4.5 million, while his music career has seen him reach number 7 in the UK R&B charts with the single Lamborghini. In 2016 he starred in the film Laid in America with fellow YouTuber Caspar Lee and he was named Vlogger of the Year at the 2016 NME Awards.
Editor-in-chief, Buzzfeed
Janine Gibson moved to Buzzfeed in 2015 from the Guardian, where she had been deputy editor and editor-in-chief of guardian.co.uk. Gibson led the Guardian team that won a Pulitzer for helping Edward Snowden blow the whistle on NSA surveillance, and her experience will support Buzzfeed's objective to become as renowned for breaking news as it is for its humorous quizzes and lists (dubbed 'listicles'). In 2016 Gibson turned down the Jeremy Corbyn 'traingate' story that the Guardian subsequently – and somewhat erroneously – broke.
Digital Champion
Since 2009, lastminute.com co-founder Martha Lane Fox has been the UK government's digital champion, promoting the socio-economic benefits of a digitally-literate society. In 2016 she scored a significant victory when the government announced that free training in basic digital skills would be given to any adults who needed it in a bid to make the UK the most digitally skilled nation in the world. Lane Fox also chairs digital skills charity Go ON UK, as well as the 3D toy printing firm Makie Labs, and joined the board of Twitter in 2016. She is chancellor of the Open University and joined the House of Lords as a cross bencher in 2013, becoming its youngest female member.
General Manager, Northern Europe, AirBnB
James McClure oversees operations for popular homesharing site AirBnB in Northern Europe. The company is developing plans to extend its travel offerings with a flight-booking service, and recently announced plans to restrict hosts and landlords to three month lets amid concerns that it was contributing to London's housing crisis. McClure was previously a senior executive at Google, working in London, Australia and Singapore.
Vice-President, EMEA, Facebook
Manchester-born Nicola Mendelsohn wields huge digital influence as the head of Facebook’s operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. With a background in advertising at BBH, Grey and Karmarama, Mendelsohn joined Facebook in 2013 and is its most senior employee outside the US. Mendelsohn was appointed to Sadiq Khan’s business advisory board in 2016 and recently announced that Facebook would increase its London staff by 50% to 1500 in 2017. She is an advocate of work-life balance and flexibility for working mothers, and has worked a four-day week since the first of her four children was born.
Founder, Decoded
As co-founder and co-CEO of Decoded, Kathryn Parsons works to improve digital literacy, most notably through the company’s Code in a Day course. The course teaches programming languages such as HTML, JavaScript and CSS, enabling participants to build their own app, and is now delivered to employees of hundreds of companies including Google, the BBC and Facebook. Decoded has branches in New York and Singapore, as well as several pop-up locations. Parsons studied Classics at university and can speak Mandarin, Japanese, Italian and French in addition to the programming languages in which she aims to school the world.
Co-founders, Swiftkey
‘Clairvoyant keyboard’ Swiftkey uses artificial technology to predict what mobile users are trying to type. It was set up by Cambridge graduates Jon Reynolds and Ben Medlock in 2008 with a third co-founder, Chris Hill-Scott, who gave up his share in the business the same year. Swiftkey technology is now used by smartphone manufacturers on more than 300 million devices and in 2014 it was part of a project to improve Stephen Hawking’s communication system. CEO Reynolds and CTO Medlock have won numerous awards and in 2016 Swiftkey was sold to Microsoft for $250 million.
Founder, Mumsnet
Justine Roberts launched Mumsnet in 2000 after a disastrous holiday compelled her to share her experience with other mums. The site now receives more than 9 million unique visitors per month seeking a supportive environment in which to discuss issues such as pregnancy, miscarriage, postnatal depression, parenting and sex. It has also launched several high profile campaigns, including Let Girls Be Girls, which spoke out against the sexualisation of young girls. After studying at Oxford, Roberts worked in the City and as a journalist before founding Mumsnet. In 2011 she set up sister site Gransnet, geared towards the over-50s.
Minister for Internet Safety and Security
Joanna Shields took up her current post within the government following the 2015 general election, and her responsibilities include making the internet a safer place for children and working to remove extremist content online. Prior to her appointment, she was a digital adviser to the Prime Minister and CEO of Tech City UK, leading efforts to develop the UK's digital economy. Her career began in Silicon Valley, and she worked for 25 years helping build technology companies, including as CEO of Bebo and vice-president and managing director at Facebook EMEA. She was appointed a life peer in 2014.
Founder and CEO, Gleam Futures
Dom Smales is the founder and CEO of Gleam Futures, the talent agency that represents the stars of new media. With a client roster including Zoe Sugg, Tanya Burr and Alfie Deyes, ‘Team Gleam’ manages individuals who have built audiences and influence through social platforms, securing sponsorship, advertising, book and merchandising deals – though Smales claims they turn down 95% of pitches. Smales worked for a production company that created digital content before leaving to start Gleam in 2010, and his first clients were Pixiwoo, sisters from Norwich who deliver online make-up tutorials.
Beauty, Fashion and Lifestyle Vlogger
26-year-old social media phenomenon Zoe 'Zoella' Sugg gives fashion and beauty tips, make-up tutorials and regular life updates to millions of YouTube subscribers and followers on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. Sugg first set up her blog in 2009 and it gained a following from the outset, prompting her to launch a YouTube channel the same year. Her loyal fans and staggering selling power earned her more than a million pounds in advertising and sponsorship in the last year, and she is also a published author: her debut novel, Girl Online, became the fastest-selling book of 2014, and her second, Girl Online On Tour, followed a year later.
Co-Founder, Wikipedia
As co-founder of online encyclopaedia Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales has unparalleled influence over the information accessed by the public every day. A recent fundraising drive by the site achieved its aim of raising $25 million, which it claims will support its independence by side-stepping advertising. Wales first became ‘addicted’ to the internet during the early ’90s when he worked for an options and trading firm in Chicago, and began writing code in his spare time. He set up Wikipedia in 2001 and also founded profit-making company Wikia, a website hosting a collection of ‘wikis’ on various subjects.
General Manager, Snap Inc UK
In 2016 Claire Valoti left Facebook to head up Snapchat's new UK office. Founded in 2011, Snapchat allows users to share temporary images and videos, and in 2016 it launched its Spectacles, a wearable gadget that can record up to 10 seconds of video. Its London office currently has 40 employees, but recently advertised around 20 new vacancies. Valoti was previously director of agency partnerships at Facebook, a background which may indicate the platform's ambition to monetise through advertising revenue.
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