Tag Archives for Company

Gower Brothers of Jagex

Great St Mary's Church marks the centre of Cam...Image via WikipediaThe Gower brothers have not made much of a splash on the Cambridge Cluster scene but have quietly built up Jagex and the RuneScape game into a £200million business with reports saying that the brothers still own 52% of Jagex with Andrew Gower owning 38.5%.

Andrew has been building games virtually since coming into this world in 1978 but he had to wait until 2001 until he came up with the idea of RuneScape.  It was re-launched in 2004, after a re-write of the code, presumable to help the servers cope with the millions of users.

According to their website, Jagex has some 5.4million players active in the last two weeks.  If the subscription is some £5 per month that adds up to quite an income – no wonder they have been voted as one of the top 100 places to work.  Do they have “Google style” offices and perks such as top chefs, I wonder?

I cannot find much corporate information on the site but it says that Geoff Iddison, the former European CEO of PayPal, joined the company as CEO in October 2007   Was this there “Ed Schmidt moment” but without the back-up of the Google VCs?  There is an interesting interview with Geoff by Matt Martin.  Pity it is not a video interview as they use on the Huffington Post or Huffpo as Fred Wilson calls it. Do I need to buy and use an HD video camera?

No details on funding and I guess that they were funded by themselves from the income generated by the earlier games.  In which case why do the brothers “only” own 52% of the business? Were there any VCs or angels investors?  Did they use a business plan resource or did they just put in the “sweat” hours?

I hope that someone can persuade them to talk in the Cambridge Cluster soon.  But as I have said before, there seems to be an inverse relationship between the “talkers” and the “doers”.  Zemanta does not find much on Jagex so here is a picture of the heart of Cambridge which was covered in binary numbers last night.  It is about time we had a science and technology museum at the heart of Cambridge.

Somewhere on a dusty shelf in Cambridge is the tube JJ Thompson used to “see” electrons – really the first TV.  How many people know that Cambridge Cluster companies ARM and CSR power most mobile phones?  If the Gower brothers sell up and cannot find a college which needs a donation and a new name, how about The Gower Science and Technology Museum in a new wing of the Fitzwilliam Museum?


Much more detail on the comments and thanks for the help.  Why did the Gowers go to New York for funding when we have Amadeus in Cambridge and Index Ventures in London?  Geneva Technology also went to New York for funding and let us hope that Jagex does as well for the Cambridge Cluster and all who work here.

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Selling at the top.

Business Plan in a Day bookImage by Raymond Yee via FlickrLawrence Bailey of Price Bailey in Cambridge has some good comments to make about selling companies.  There is a feature in a Cambridge Evening News supplement sponsored by his firm.  He talks about four different scenarios but the one I like talks about the sale of an Internet based insurance intermediary in January of this year, 2008.

At the time, the entrepreneur felt that the time was not right and the price was too low.  Nearly twelve months on, the same person reckons the company would be worth on third of the price.  Most companies plod along working away and not keeping any eye on the value of their business.  It is understandable as it is hard making a crust.  But every company should have a business plan resource which makes them track the valuation of their company and also makes sure that it is always optimised for sale.

Twenty years ago, one entrepreneur summed it up with the phrase “We could work for another ten years and not be as well off!”.  So keep one eye on the inside and the other on the outside.  But gosh, you have to be clever to close before a market stalls – and very brave! And to have Price Bailey holding your hand!

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Passive equity companies near The Lakes

Railway cottages, TebayImage via WikipediaOut of Eden, Lyon Outdoor and the largest of them all Lakeland are all passive equity companies with the latter in the second generation family control.

The Internet has made it possible to build these companies far from big centres.  However if you start-up in a beautiful small village like Dent, there will come a time when you will have to move to Tebay to cope with the large artics which Lyon Outdoor has had to do.  Also all three companies are re-sellers of other peoples ideas and products.

I met Ian Hartley of Out of Eden high up on the Langdales where he was seeking inspiration for the next stageof the companies growth.  And where I sprained my ankle slipping on a wet stone.  Each company now has experienced management some of whom may go and join another company in the area or even start on their own.  With passive equity companies, how can the companies offer a stake in the growth of the business without opening up the share register?  It is easier with the Cambridge Cluster and active equity companies where everyone is a winner in the business plan!

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