UK Tech 100: The 100 most influential people shaping British technology in 2019

uk tech 100 2019 2x1

  • 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.

Curious to see how the list has changed? Click
here to read the 2018 edition of Business Insider’s UK Tech
100

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
entry
Twitter: @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 Campus’ first
female-only 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. 

Previous rank:
50 on Business Insider’s 2016 list

Twitter: @edvaizey

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..

Source: FS – All – Economy – News
UK Tech 100: The 100 most influential people shaping British technology in 2019