Martha Lane Fox, Baroness Lane-Fox of Soho
|The Right Honourable
The Baroness Lane-Fox of Soho
|Member of the House of Lords|
26 March 2013
10 February 1973
Martha Lane Fox, Baroness Lane-Fox of Soho, CBE (born 10 February 1973) is an English businesswoman, philanthropist, and public servant. She co-founded Lastminute.com in the dotcom boom of the early 2000s and has subsequently served on public service digital projects. She is a board member of Channel 4, mydeco.com, Marks & Spencer, and chairs the board of the digital skills charity, Go ON UK. Lane Fox joined the House of Lords as a crossbencher on 26 March 2013, becoming its youngest female member. Lane Fox was also appointed as Chancellor of the Open University as of 12 March 2014.
Born in Oxford, Lane Fox is the daughter of the academic and gardening writer Robin Lane Fox and is married to Jay Shinji. She was educated at Oxford High School, Westminster School and Magdalen College, Oxford, where she read ancient and modern history.
After university she showed interest in acting and prison governorship but joined the consulting firm Spectrum, involved in IT and media companies. Her first project was for British Telecom called "What is the Internet?". Here she met Brent Hoberman, a fellow employee.
In 1998, Lane Fox and Hoberman founded Lastminute.com, an online travel and gift business that generated great publicity, floating at the peak of the dot-com bubble. On 20 November 2003, it was announced that she would step down as managing director of Lastminute.com. The company survived the dotcom crash to be bought for £577m in 2005, by Sabre Holdings. Lane Fox's personal share holding at the time the company was bought was worth £13 million.
In 2005, Julian Douglas, an advertising executive, shared an idea of his with her about launching a Tokyo-esque private karaoke bar in London. Favouring the idea, together with Nick Thistleton she launched a private karaoke company, Lucky Voice, with a club in London's Soho. The company has seven bars in the United Kingdom, an online application, and an additional product to be used with computers.
In 2007 Lane Fox joined the board of Marks & Spencer as a non-executive director. She is also on the board of Channel 4. In 2007 Lane Fox joined the board of an interior design and furniture website, mydeco.com, the start-up venture of her lastminute.com partner, Brent Hoberman.
On 16 June 2009, she was appointed the UK Government's Digital Inclusion Champion to head a two-year campaign to make the British public more computer literate. She has argued that "I don't think you can be a proper citizen of our society in the future if you are not engaged online."
On 22 March 2010 her government role was expanded when it was announced that she would set up a new Digital Public Services Unit within the Cabinet Office. 
In June 2010, the new Government asked Lane Fox to expand her role as UK Digital Champion advising how online public services delivery can help to provide better, and more efficient services as well as getting more people online. She was invited to sit on Cabinet Office's Efficiency and Reform Board. In July 2010 David Cameron hosted an event at 10 Downing Street to celebrate her Manifesto for a Networked Nation - a challenge for people and organisations in every sector and every corner of the country to work together to inspire, encourage and support as many new people as possible to get online by the end of the Olympic year. By the beginning of 2011 the Race Online 2012 campaign had over 1000 partners pledging to reach almost 2 million adults.
In April 2012, Lane Fox launched Go ON UK, a charity focused on making the UK the world's most digitally skilled nation. Go ON UK wants every individual,small business and charity to have the skills and confidence to benefit from new digital services. Lane Fox currently chairs the Go ON UK board.
Lane Fox is a strong and vocal advocate of causes such as human rights, women's rights and social justice. In 2007 she founded Antigone, a grant-making trust to support charities based in the UK.
She is a patron of Reprieve, a legal action charity, which made the news during its involvement in the release of a UK resident, Binyam Mohammed, from Guantanamo Bay. Lane Fox is also a patron of Camfed, which is dedicated to fighting poverty, HIV and AIDS in rural Africa through the education of girls and young women.
When the telecom company Orange withdrew its 17-year-long support for the Orange Prize for women's fiction, Lane Fox was one of several benefactors, along with Cherie Blair and Joanna Trollope, who offered financial support to keep the prize, to be at least temporarily known as the Women's Prize for Fiction, going until another major sponsor is found.
Titles and styles
- Martha Lane Fox (1973–2012)
- Martha Lane Fox CBE (2013)
- The Rt. Hon. The Baroness Lane-Fox of Soho CBE (2013–)
Honours and assessment
Lane Fox was appointed Commander of The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2013 New Year Honours for services to the digital economy and charity. In February 2013 she was assessed as one of the 100 most powerful women in the United Kingdom by Woman's Hour on BBC Radio 4. In the same month it was announced that she will be created a life peer and enter the House of Lords as a crossbencher. She was introduced, under the title Baroness Lane-Fox of Soho, of Soho in the City of Westminster (her late great-aunt Felicity Lane-Fox was Baroness Lane-Fox), on 26 March 2013. Her surname is not hyphenated but her title is.
In May 2004 she was severely injured in a car accident in the tourist resort of Essaouira in Morocco, and she was flown to England for treatment. She was discharged from hospital in December 2005 after recovering at the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, and later at Wellington Hospital, a private hospital in London. She had skin grafts, and fractured bones were held in position with internal metal supports.
- Parliament.uk – Introduction of Baroness Lane-Fox of Soho
- "Digital boss Martha Lane Fox joins House of Lords". BBC News. 26 March 2013.
- Jonathan Prynn (22 May 2007). "22 May 2007, Martha Lane Fox joins M&S". Evening Standard, This is Money. Retrieved 2009-11-24.
- Pesola, Maija (11 May 2005). "Sabre agrees to buy Lastminute for £577m". FT.com. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
- "About us". Race Online 2012. Retrieved 2009-11-24.
- "article on Digital Britain". BBC News. 16 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-24.
- Brown, maggie (2009-07-16). "Martha Lane Fox – what she'll do as the UK's digital inclusion champion". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-08-30.
- "UK digital champion, Martha Lane Fox, wants to get everyone of working age online by 2012". BBC News. 12 July 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-12.
- "UK | Magazine | The internet's conscientious objectors". BBC News. 6 August 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-24.
- Thomson, Rebecca (2010-03-22). "Gordon Brown turns his focus to digital economy". Computer Weekly. Retrieved 2010-03-22.
- "Martha Lane Fox appointed UK Digital Champion". Inside Government. 18 June 2010. Retrieved 18 June 2013.
- "Antigone". Antigone. Retrieved 2012-03-13.
- Camfed on BBC Radio 4 this Christmas Day at Camfed
- Armitstead, Claire (8 October 2012). "Orange prize saved by private donors after organisers fail to find sponsor". The Guardian (London).
- The London Gazette: . 29 December 2012.
- BBC Radio 4, Woman's Hour Power list
- "House of Lords, Official Website - New peers announced". Retrieved 27 February 2013.
- "Digital boss Martha Lane Fox to get peerage". BBC News. 27 February 2013.
- Ashton, James (19 July 2009). "Martha Lane Fox back". The Times (London). Retrieved 2010-05-12.
- Simon Brooke (4 July 2005). "Lane Fox's new venture". thisismoney.co.uk.
- A BBC News interview with Martha Lane Fox
- A BBC News article about her stepping down as MD
- Race Online 2012, part of the digital inclusion initiative