Rob Lewis (entrepreneur)

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Rob Lewis
Born (1969-05-23) 23 May 1969 (age 45)
London, United Kingdom
Occupation Chairman, rara.com, Non-Executive Director (Co-Founder), Omnifone

Rob Lewis (born 23 May 1969) is an English businessman and serial entrepreneur. Lewis has established several successful publishing and technology ventures including Business & Technology magazine, Cromwell Media, Silicon Media Group,[1] Omnifone and most recently direct to consumer music service rara.com.[2] Lewis is a 2009 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year.[3]

Biography[edit]

Lewis was educated at Latymer Upper School, London. He gained a MA degree in Economics from Jesus College, Cambridge.

Career[edit]

Journalism and publishing[edit]

Lewis established his first venture, the Cambridge Weekly Review,[1] as a rival publication to Varsity, whilst reading Economics at Jesus College Cambridge. He sold the publication to Associate Publishing prior to taking his finals.

Lewis returned to publishing after two years in politics, founding and editing Business & Technology[4] magazine, which he sold to Dennis Publishing in 1993; the publication survives today as part of Computer Weekly.

Politics[edit]

Lewis spent two years after Cambridge as a researcher and economic advisor to Huddersfield Labour MP Barry Sheerman in the run-up to the 1992 general election.

Internet ventures[edit]

In 1994, Lewis co-founded internet software company Cromwell Media[5] with Phil Sant and Mark Knight, providing scalable enterprise level technology solutions that power insurance sites including MORE TH>N. While developing Cromwell Media in the years that followed, a chance meeting at a London party with a team of scientists from CERN in 1998 convinced Lewis of the power of IT publishing over the internet. Lewis founded Silicon Media Group with Sant and Knight the same year, launching IT news site Silicon.com in the UK, and sister sites Silicon.fr in Paris and Munich-based Silicon.de. In November 1999, Lewis reportedly raised over £11m in investment for Silicon.com from a consortium of venture capital firms headed by Amadeus Capital Partners, with reports valuing the company at £800m in May 2000.[6]

By the time he was 30, The Guardian[1] reported Lewis as one of the top six most successful young entrepreneurs in the UK. That same month, May 2000, aided by the ex-CEO of the Hoskyns Group (now Capgemini) Jim Feeney, Lewis sold Cromwell Media to InterX for £850m.[7] Lewis went on to sell Silicon Media Group to NASDAQ-listed CNET Networks (part of CBS) in 2002.[8]

Renewable energy[edit]

Lewis is an investor in Wind Energy, a renewable energy company dedicated to the sensitive development of on-shore wind farms, assessing potential sites across Scotland since 2002. Lewis brokered a majority stake sale to US-based power and utilities company AES Corporation in 2007, pairing Wind Energy with AES owned SeaWest Wind Power[9] bringing a host of development skills to Wind Energy and accelerating the development of clean renewable energy for the UK. Wind Energy currently has nine wind farms in development, including North Rhins in Southern Scotland where permission was granted for 11 Vestas V80 turbines with a capacity of 22 megawatts of electricity.[10] The wind farm will meet the annual electricity needs of around 15,000 homes, over a fifth of the households in Dumfries & Galloway.[11]

Omnifone[edit]

Lewis founded Omnifone, with Sant and Knight in January 2003 to enable the next generation of digital content services to be delivered globally. The company develops cloud based interoperable unlimited music services for consumer electronics vendors, mobile carriers and internet service providers across multiple in-home, in-car, mobile and PC device platforms.

Lewis secured the first international licensing for unlimited music services with all four major music labels in June 2007[12] rolling out the company’s multi-award winning MusicStation powered unlimited music services to millions of device users across four continents[13] with the likes of Sony,[14] HP,[15] BSkyB,[16] Sony Ericsson,[17] Vodafone,[18] Telenor,[19] Hutchison Telecom[20] and Vodacom.[21]

rara.com[edit]

Lewis also serves as Chairman of streaming music service rara.com, launched across the USA and Europe on 13 December 2011 on web and Android smartphones. The direct to consumer service is powered by Omnifone's MusicStation platform and is also licensed by the music service provider.[2]

Political campaigning[edit]

Lewis was the original author of the Entrepreneurs' letter,[22] an open letter published on the front page[23] of The Times newspaper in the final week of the 2010 general election campaign and signed by leading UK entrepreneurs.

The letter, also featured in The Daily Telegraph,[24] warned of the dangers of a Labour/Liberal Democrat coalition government, and its potential effects on entrepreneurial business activity in the UK.

The letter was eventually signed by over 110 UK entrepreneurs, including Simon Calver, CEO of LoveFilm, Ben Goldsmith partner at WHEB Ventures Limited and Julie Meyer CEO of Ariadne Capital and online dragon for BBC Dragons' Den, and was covered extensively in the media, leading on the front page of The Sunday Times,[25][26] and in The Sunday Express,[27] The Sunday Mirror,[28] The Guardian,[29] the UK Press Association,[30] Sky News[31] and ITN[32] four days before the election.

The letter stated that “under Labour the UK is becoming hostile territory for entrepreneurial businesses” and urged the public to vote for the Conservative Party.

Lewis also authored an open letter which was sent to every Conservative and Liberal Democrat MP on 21 June 2010 warning of the economic dangers of significantly increasing Capital Gains Tax in the UK, stating that “any blanket increase in CGT could have a significant long-term detrimental effect on entrepreneurial activity in the UK.”[33] The letter was signed by over 110 leading UK entrepreneurs and was covered across a broad range of national UK media in the run up to the June 2010 United Kingdom Budget including the front page of The Guardian,[34] The Financial Times,[35] The Daily Telegraph,[33] The Daily Express,[36] BBC News,[37] and The Scotsman.[38] Following the publication of the letter the Chancellor announced that the standard rate of CGT would increase much less than expected, to 28% with the additional benefit of a substantially increased £5m entrepreneur relief.

Members clubs[edit]

Lewis is also a director and investor in Century Club, one of the many private members clubs in London, and Paramount, the highest restaurant in Soho, perched at the summit of the Centre Point building.[39]

Awards & honours[edit]

• Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year London & South Award 2009[40]

• PwC UK Technology, Innovation & Growth Awards Entrepreneur of the Year 2008[41]

• Mobile Entertainment magazine Top 50 2008[42]

• Mobile magazine Power 50 2008[43]

• Billboard Top 10 Mobile Music Executive 2007: Special feature: 2007 Top mobile executives, 27 October 2007[44]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Edited by Tom O'Sullivan (12 March 2000). "Top Ten Most Successful Young Entrepreneurs". The Guardian (UK). Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  2. ^ a b "BBC News: 13 December 2011: Music service rara.com aims for digital non-adopters". BBC. 13 December 2011. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  3. ^ "Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year London & South Award 2009". Ey.com. 16 June 2009. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  4. ^ "Business & Technology Magazine". Journalism.co.uk. 11 June 2008. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  5. ^ "Cromwell Media". It-analysis.com. 11 February 2000. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  6. ^ Edited by Tom O'Sullivan (12 March 2000). "Silicon.com valued at £800m". The Guardian (UK). Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  7. ^ Cromwell Media sold to InterX for £850m in 2000
  8. ^ Sarah Left (2 August 2002). "Silicon Media Group sold to NASDAQ-listed CNET Networks". The Guardian (UK). Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  9. ^ "AES buys SeaWest Wind Power" (PDF). Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  10. ^ North Rhins 1[dead link]
  11. ^ North Rhins 2[dead link]
  12. ^ Richard Wray, communications editor (12 February 2007). "first international licensing for unlimited music services with all four major music labels". The Guardian (UK). Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  13. ^ Available to over 50 million mobile users worldwide
  14. ^ Watkins, Mary (4 January 2011). "Financial Times: 4 January 2011: Sony in cloud-based streaming push". Financial Times. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  15. ^ Richard Wray (25 January 2010). "25 January 2010: HP deal strengthens Omnifone's position in digital music battle". The Guardian (UK). Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  16. ^ Business Week: 24 January 2010: Hewlett-Packard Computers in Europe Gain Omnifone Music Service[dead link]
  17. ^ Screen Digest: 24 September 2008: Sony Ericsson steals Nokia's thunder with music service[dead link]
  18. ^ Parker, Andrew (11 September 2007). "Financial Times: 11 September 2007: Vodafone reveals its answer to iPhone". Financial Times. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  19. ^ Palmer, Maija (13 June 2007). "Financial Times: 13 June 2007: Mobile phone groups take on iPhone". Financial Times. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  20. ^ Record of the Day: 2 April 2009: Omnifone brings unlimited music downloads to PC and Mobile with MusicStation Desktop Edition[dead link]
  21. ^ Lesley Stones (31 October 2007). "31 October 2007: Vodacom to boost data revenue with music download service". Business Day. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  22. ^ Post (22 December 2011). "The Times: 29 April 2010: Lib-Lab coalition would be 'disastrous for British business'". The Times. UK. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  23. ^ Post (22 December 2011). "The Times: 29 April 2010: In a letter to The Times today, 55 entrepreneurs voice their “significant concern” about the possibility of a Lib-Lab coalition". The Times. UK. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  24. ^ Leach, Ben (29 April 2010). "The Daily Telegraph: 29 April 2010: General Election 2010: Lib-Lab coalition 'would be bad for business', say leaders". The Daily Telegraph (UK). Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  25. ^ Post (22 December 2011). "2 May 2010: Voters love Nick Clegg but hate his policies". The Times. UK. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  26. ^ Post (22 December 2011). "The Sunday Times: 2 May 2010: 110 entrepreneurs have signed a letter warning against the consequences of a Labour-Lib Dem coalition". The Times. UK. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  27. ^ "The Sunday Express: 2 May 2010: GENERAL ELECTION 2010: BUSINESS WARNS ON COALITION". Dailyexpress.co.uk. 2 May 2010. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  28. ^ "The Sunday Mirror: 2 May 2010: Entrepreneurs voice coalition fears". Daily Mirror. UK. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  29. ^ "2 May 2010: 110 Entrepreneurs voice coalition fears". The Guardian (UK). 2 May 2010. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  30. ^ UK Press Association: 2 May 2010: Entrepreneurs voice coalition fears[dead link]
  31. ^ "Sky News: 1 May 2010: Entrepreneur Attacks Lib Dems' Ladybird Economics". Blogs.news.sky.com. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  32. ^ ITN: 2 May 2010: Entrepreneurs warn against Lib/Lab coalition[dead link]
  33. ^ a b Capital Gains Tax (19 June 2010). "The Daily Telegraph: 19 June 2010: Budget 2010: 110 business leaders write to George Osborne over CGT". The Daily Telegraph (UK). Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  34. ^ Polly Curtis, Randeep Ramesh and Simon Bowers (20 June 2010). "21 June 2010: George Osborne facing budget backlash". The Guardian (UK). Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  35. ^ Kleinman, Mark (19 June 2010). "The Financial Times: 19 June 2010: Business Opposition". Financial Times. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  36. ^ "The Daily Express: 19 June 2010: Raising Capital Gains Tax ‘could cut the country’s income by £2.5bn a year’". Express.co.uk. 19 June 2010. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  37. ^ "19 June 2010: Government warned over CGT rise". BBC News. 19 June 2010. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  38. ^ Published on Saturday 19 June 2010 11:17 (19 June 2010). "The Scotsman: 19 June 2010: Blanket gains tax increase 'threatens UK's recovery’". The Scotsman (UK). Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  39. ^ The Daily Telegraph: 25 October 2003: Rob Lewis co-founder of Soho private members hangout the Century Club[dead link]
  40. ^ "Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year London & South Award 2009 press release". Ey.com. 16 June 2009. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  41. ^ PwC UK Technology, Innovation & Growth Awards Entrepreneur of the Year 2008[dead link]
  42. ^ O'Brien, Stuart. "Mobile Entertainment magazine Top 50 2008". Mobile-ent.biz. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  43. ^ Mobile magazine Power 50 2008
  44. ^ Billboard magazine Top 10 Mobile Music Executive 2007: Special feature: 2007 Top mobile executives, 27 October 2007

External links[edit]