It’s been a phenomenal year for European tech as the pandemic has accelerated the pace of digital adoption and more money has flooded into a new breed of high-growth startups.
This has led to eight new tech figures entering for the first time the Sunday Times Rich List of the wealthiest 250 people in the UK, with a combined wealth of more than £18bn between them.
Some of these were investors. Christian Angermayer became the first "psychedelics billionaire" after his investments into companies developing psychedelic drugs for mental health saw their valuations balloon over the past twelve months.
He joins long-standing tech investors on the list such as venture capitalist Michael Moritz and CEO of the VC firm Atomico Niklas Zennström on the list.
But most of the new entrants on the list this year were startup founders, some of which launched their companies during the pandemic and saw their value rocket into the billions almost immediately.
One is Johnny Boufarhat, the chief executive of the virtual events platform Hopin, who made the list for the first time worth £1.5bn. His startup only launched its first product earlier last year, but has since grown to a $5.65bn valuation.
Another is Alex Chesterman, the serial entrepreneur and chief executive of used car marketplace Cazoo, which also saw a radical increase in value during the pandemic. The company, founded in 2018, is set to go public in the US via a SPAC at a $7bn valuation.
Both Hopin and Cazoo broke records for the fastest European companies to reach unicorn status in 2020, a title previously held by Skype for 15 years, according to Atomico’s State of European Tech report. Cazoo reached the billion-dollar milestone in June, 2020, 18 months after being founded. Hopin reached the milestone in November, 2020, only 17 months after being founded.
A third is Guillaume Pousaz, CEO and founder of Checkout.com, who is now ranked as the 33rd richest person in the UK with a fortune of £5.5bn. His company raised two recent funding rounds, first valuing the business at $5.5bn in June 2020 and then at $15bn in January 2021.
Others to make the list for the first time were Ali Parsa, the founder of doctor app Babylon health (£825m); José Neves from fashion platform Farfetch (£2bn); Denis Sverdlov from electric vehicle startup Arrival (£6.2bn); and Stephen Fitzpatrick from challenger energy supplier Ovo Energy (£675m).
The founders join existing tech and startup leaders who have been on the list before including Nikolay Storonsky, who’s also seen a jump in fortune over the past year, pushing him to become the 165th richest person in the UK, with a fortune of £1bn.