There are two types of start-up in a tech entrepreneur'scareer, according to thirtysomething billionaires Kyle Vogtand Daniel Kan (pictured centre and left with General Motors' President Dan Ammann). "The first time you start a firm,you want to get rich," Kan tells Fortune's Erin Griffith."The second time... you want to build a legacy." Their moneymaker was Justin.tv, a live-streaming tech firm founded byVogt, which morphed into Twitch, the online video-gamingchannel snapped up by Amazon for $970m in 2014. That lefttheir legacy project, begun in 2013: self-driving tech startupCruise Automation.
When General Motors (GM) boughtCruise for $1bn in May, Vogt and Kan went too and became itsyoungest senior directors. Naturally, there has been a cultureclash between the 108-year-old car giant's focus on durabilityand Cruise's focus on speed, says Griffith, but Cruise hasbenefited from the clout of the GM brand. Meanwhile, GM hasgained from the younger company's dynamism. With Google,Uber, Ford and others all working on their own self-drivingtechnology, it can't afford to fall behind.
From drunken signingsto digital beer mats
"I've stopped signing bands while I'm drunk," Simon Williams tells Alex Lawson in the Evening Standard. The founder of Fierce Panda the offbeat independent record label that put out early releases by Ash, Coldplay, Keane and Supergrass, among others was prone to wandering backstage after gigs and offering to release an up-and-coming band's single on the spot. "Usually they were so drunk, stoned, or exuberated by the live experience that they'd go: yeah, alright then'."
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It wasn't, however, an ideal business model in the modern music industry. The internet has made it possible for fans to access music for free and for bands to make it big outside traditional channels. "All the rules of signing bands that were in place are gone. It used to be that if you sold out the Scala [in King's Cross], you'd be ready to put out an album on a major label." Today, you "can be a couple of teenagers from Merthyr Tydfil who've only done two gigs and look quite cool", he says, referring to rock band Pretty Vicious, who shot to fame after uploading a single song to the SoundCloud website.
The economics of running a small label are tough: a handful of other independents, such as 4AD and Heavenly, survive, but many contemporaries have vanished. However, Fierce Panda which was set up more than 20 years ago by three journalists from music magazine NME perseveres under the guidance of Williams, the "most indie man alive". Last year, the label put out a single every month through the unconventional medium of beer mats that included a link to a digital download.
Bringing money transfers into the internet age
Ismail Ahmed is not a typical fintech entrepreneur. Born in Somaliland, from where he fled a brutal civil war, the 56-year-old founder of London-based money transfer app WorldRemit went to work for the UN, tasked with ensuring aid money went to where it was supposed to go. What he found wouldn't look out of place in a John Grisham novel, says Simon Duke in The Sunday Times. In Kenya, "I saw widespread corruption involving several UN officials," says Ahmed. So in 2006 he blew the whistle and ended up on a blacklist for his troubles.
Vindication came four years later, along with a sizeable pay out for lost earnings, which provided the seed capital for his start-up venture. His aim was to make it easier and cheaper for migrant workers to send money home, dragging "the industry which had for centuries been founded on informal networks of back-street money changers into the digital age", says Duke.
For now, WorldRemit is a relative minnow but it is growing fast, with revenues rising from £15m in 2014 to a forecast £42m this year. It has been valued at $500m by venture capital investors."Just like many other industries, backstreet money exchanges will be crushed by the digital hordes."
The MoneyWeek audit: Irene Bergman
How did she start her career?
Irene Bergman (pictured above) the longest-serving woman on Wall Street was born on 2 August 1915 in Berlin. Her epic career stretched 74 years, coming to an end on 29 September, when she passed away at her Manhattan home, aged 101. Bergman, whose father was a private banker at the Berlin Stock Exchange, grew up in wealthy surroundings. But in 1936, she moved with her Jewish family to the Netherlands to escape Nazi persecution. When Germany invaded four years later, the family was forced to flee again this time to America, via Portugal.
What was her big break?
Bergman arrived in New York in 1942. Her father secured her a job as a banker's secretary, paying $35 a week an amount she described as a fortune for the time. "Everything I know about investments, I learned there", she said. While working at the bank, her father died and she redoubled her efforts, joining investment firm Hallgarten & Company in 1957. There she worked in merger arbitrage (attempting to profit by buying and selling stocks in two merging companies), as well as writing a weekly market letter.
After six years at Loeb, Rhoades & Co, Bergman joined Stralem & Company in 1973, where she felt she was treated equally as a woman for the first time. She worked at Stralem for the rest of her life, helping oversee $1bn in assets.
What was her attitude to money?
A decade after arriving in America, Bergman managed to reclaim her family's assets, which had been frozen by the Dutch and US authorities as a result of the war. Her personal wealth reassured her clients, she told Bloomberg last year. "They had the feeling that I didn't need to churn their accounts because I had money myself." The amount of time taken to get it back meant that she put considerable emphasis on the importance of safeguarding funds, which reassured her older clients.
Bergman never retired; she stopped coming into the office in December 2014, after an illness, but carried on working from her flat in Manhattan, surrounded by Dutch masterpieces, Louis XV furniture, four assistants, and her pet Maltese, Fanny.
Chris Carter spent three glorious years reading English literature on the beautiful Welsh coast at Aberystwyth University. Graduating in 2005, he left for the University of York to specialise in Renaissance literature for his MA, before returning to his native Twickenham, in southwest London. He joined a Richmond-based recruitment company, where he worked with several clients, including the Queen’s bank, Coutts, as well as the super luxury, Dorchester-owned Coworth Park country house hotel, near Ascot in Berkshire.
Then, in 2011, Chris joined MoneyWeek. Initially working as part of the website production team, Chris soon rose to the lofty heights of wealth editor, overseeing MoneyWeek’s Spending It lifestyle section. Chris travels the globe in pursuit of his work, soaking up the local culture and sampling the very finest in cuisine, hotels and resorts for the magazine’s discerning readership. He also enjoys writing his fortnightly page on collectables, delving into the fascinating world of auctions and art, classic cars, coins, watches, wine and whisky investing.
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