Brent Hoberman

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Brent Hoberman
Brent Shawzin Hoberman

(1968-11-25) 25 November 1968 (age 55)
Cape Town, South Africa
EducationDragon School
Alma materNew College, Oxford
Occupation(s)Entrepreneur, Investor
Known forCo-founder,,, Founders Factory, Founders Forum Group & firstminute capital
Board member ofGoogle Cloud, The UK Government Digital Service, Tessa Jowell Foundation and the WEF Digital Europe Group.

Brent Shawzin Hoberman CBE (born 25 November 1968) is a British entrepreneur and investor. During the dot-com boom, he co-founded with Martha Lane Fox in 1998, where he was CEO from its inception, before selling the business to Sabre in 2005 for $1.1bn.[1][2]

Hoberman's other business involvements include, which he co-founded in 2010. Hoberman left his role as Chair shortly before the company went public with a valuation of $1bn, voicing that he was not in favour of the IPO.[3][4] The company was a 'pandemic star' but fell into administration in late 2022.[5]

Brent is also co-founder of the startup accelerator Founders Factory, tech community Founders Forum, and $270m seed fund firstminute capital.[6][7][8] Technology businesses co-founded by Hoberman have cumulatively raised over $1 billion.[9][10][11]

Hoberman sits on the advisory boards of Google Cloud, UK Government Digital Service and the WEF Digital Europe Group, as well as advising the British government on technology.[12][13][14] He previously chaired the Oxford Foundry, the Royal Foundation Taskforce on the Prevention of Cyberbullying for William, the Prince of Wales, and had further board roles including The Royal Academy, TalkTalk, TimeOut, The Guardian Media Group, Shazam Entertainment, Eton College, Imperial College Innovation Fund and The Economist.[14][15][16]

Early life[edit]

Brent Hoberman was born in Cape Town, South Africa on 25 November 1968.[citation needed] He was educated at the Dragon School in Oxford, followed by Eton College.[citation needed] He subsequently read Modern Languages at New College, Oxford.[17]


Hoberman remained CEO of throughout 2005, until April 2006 when he handed over the CEO position to Ian McCaig and took the position of chairman and chief strategy officer. He stepped down as chief strategy officer and chairman in January 2007.[18]

Hoberman founded VC-backed internet startup,, an online furniture and interior design site providing 3D technology for consumers to design their own rooms online in 2007 and the website launched in February 2008.[19]

In 2007, Hoberman took on the role of non-executive chairman of Wayn, a travel and leisure social network, and in December 2009, stepped down from the company's board.[citation needed]

In July 2009, Hoberman co-founded PROfounders Capital, a fund that invests in early stage internet projects,[20] with Michael Birch, Peter Dubens, Jonnie Goodwin, Rogan Angelini-Hurll and Sean Seton-Rogers.[citation needed]

Hoberman is the co-founder and was founding chairman of, an online furniture retailer that is a joint venture between and founder Ning Li.[21] In December 2015, it was reported that Hoberman was leaving PROFounders Capital.[22]

Hoberman is a co-founder of Founders Forum,[23] a private network for digital and technology entrepreneurs. Founders Forum has been hosting invite-only events in London since 2006 and has since 2011 expanded to events in other countries such as the US, Brazil, India, Turkey and China.[citation needed]

In 2013, Hoberman launched Founders Intelligence, a digital consultancy that advises corporates and investors on digital innovation and strategy and Founders Forum for Good, the precursor to Founders Pledge, the charitable arm of Founders Forum through which founders can commit a percentage of their future exit proceeds to social causes.[24]

In 2014, Hoberman co-founded Founders Keepers, an executive search firm within the digital and technology space[25] and Smartup, a peer-to-peer knowledge sharing and micro-learning platform.[26]

In 2015, Hoberman launched corporate-backed tech startup accelerator and studio with Henry Lane Fox in London.[27] Corporate investors in Founders Factory include The Guardian,[28] L’Oreal, easyJet, CSC Group, Holtzbrinck Macmillan and Aviva,[29] Marks & Spencer[30] and Reckitt Benckiser.[31] In 2018, Founders Factory launched in Africa with corporate investors including Standard Bank[32] and Netcare.[33] In 2019, Founders Factory launched in Paris backed by Aviva France,[34] and in New York backed by Johnson & Johnson Innovation.[35]

In 2015, Hoberman also launched Grip, an AI event matchmaking business [24] which raised a $13million seed round in 2021.[36]

In 2016, Hoberman launched Founders of the Future which provides programmes, events and tools for aspiring entrepreneurs, and accelerateHER which is a network to support women working in technology.[37]

In 2017, Hoberman was appointed chair of the advisory board for the Oxford Foundry.[38]

In 2018, Hoberman and Spencer Crawley launched firstminute capital, a $100m pan-European seed fund with Atomico as its cornerstone investor.[39]

In 2019, Hoberman, Riya Pabari and Asha Haji launched Founders Academy, an alternative MBA programme to train startup leaders.[40]

In 2020, Hoberman launched firstminute capital's second fund, a $250m seed fund with global remit, backed by over 100 unicorn founders.[6][7]

In 2021, Hoberman launched 01 Founders, a free-to-access coding school with a job guarantee with a mission to train 100,000 diverse software engineers by 2030.[41] The first school is launching in Regent's Park.[42]

In September 2021 he took public and with his co-founder and initial investors gained £90m by selling shares. In 2022 the share price collapsed to close at 0.5p on Oct 25th. Concerns had started as early as March 2022 after shipping costs increased. A first profit warning followed in May 2022 and rescue talks which followed were ultimately unsuccessful.[43]

Hoberman has been a non-executive director of TalkTalk, Shazam Entertainment, The Guardian News & Media,[44] The Economist[22] and LetterOne Technology.[45] Hoberman sits on the Royal Academy corporate advisory group and the UK Government digital advisory board.[46]

Personal life[edit]

Brent is married with two daughters and one son.[citation needed]

Inspiration and motivation[edit]

Hoberman says his mentors have been his father and South African grandfather Leonard Shawzin, who built an empire of over 650 clothes shops from a single store. He credits his entrepreneurial drive to the business successes of his father and grandfather, and says the catalyst for him starting his own business was being fired from his first job in investment banking for being "a prima donna".[47]

Hoberman has stated that he believes what makes a business successful is passion; in an interview with BBC The Bottom Line,[48] he states his belief that the most successful small businesses are those where the founders remain passionate about their business, and are themselves part of their target market. He believes that by building a business to offer a solution to a problem you have yourself – as he did with and – founders stand a greater chance of remaining passionate and being successful.[citation needed]

Public and political activities[edit]

In 2009, Hoberman was selected as one of the World Economic Forum's Global Young Leaders for the UK, and in July 2009, Hoberman joined The Business Sectors Council for Britain under Prime Minister Gordon Brown.[49]

Hoberman was a member of the New Enterprise Council, a group of entrepreneurs who advise the Conservative Party (UK) on policies related to the needs of business.[50]

Hoberman was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2015 New Year Honours for services to entrepreneurship.[51][52]

In 2016, Hoberman was appointed chair of the Royal Foundation Taskforce on the Prevention of Cyberbullying for the Duke of Cambridge.[53]

In 2018, Hoberman was appointed co-chair of Prime Minister Theresa May's Business Sector Council for Small Business, Scale ups and Entrepreneurs.[54]


  1. ^ "Sabre Holdings Completes Acquisition of". Sabre. Retrieved 1 October 2021.
  2. ^ Pesola, Maija (12 May 2005). "Sabre agrees to buy Lastminute for £577m". Financial Times. Retrieved 19 January 2023.
  3. ^ " valued at £775m in London IPO". Financial Times. 16 June 2021. Retrieved 19 January 2023.
  4. ^ "Letter: The difference between co-founder status and the CEO role". Financial Times. 1 November 2022. Retrieved 19 January 2023.
  5. ^ Provan, Sarah (16 June 2021). " valued at £775m in London IPO". Financial Times. Archived from the original on 11 December 2022. Retrieved 1 October 2021.
  6. ^ a b Thomas, Daniel; Bradshaw, Tim (29 November 2020). "Global tech founders back London-based start-up fund". Financial Times. Retrieved 7 December 2020.
  7. ^ a b "100 unicorn founders back London-based VC fund Firstminute Capital". Sifted. 4 June 2021. Retrieved 10 June 2021.
  8. ^ "Our Story". Founders Forum. Retrieved 1 October 2021.
  9. ^ Ackerman, Naomi (3 December 2020). "London start-up unveils ROBOT CHEF as it secures £6.5 million investment from Ocado and Brent Hoberman's Firstminute Capital VC fund". Retrieved 1 October 2021.
  10. ^ Wood, Charlie. "How a former DJ promoter persuaded one of Europe's top VCs to cofound and help raise $9 million for his robot-chef startup". Business Insider. Retrieved 1 October 2021.
  11. ^ Bain, Jessica. "Brent Hoberman". Champions Of Change Coalition. Retrieved 1 October 2021.
  12. ^ "Google Cloud Establishes European Advisory Board". Google Cloud Blog. Retrieved 19 January 2023.
  13. ^ "Brent Hoberman". Slush. Retrieved 1 October 2021.
  14. ^ a b "Brent Hoberman". Lattice. Retrieved 1 October 2021.
  15. ^ "Brent Hoberman". Founders Forum. Retrieved 1 October 2021.
  16. ^ "Brent Hoberman CBE Biography". Oxford Foundry. Retrieved 1 October 2021.
  17. ^ "John Evelyn: Mesdames". Cherwell. Vol. 196, no. 4. 2 February 1990. p. 14.
  18. ^ Derrick, Stuart. " Brent Hoberman – Starting a business advice and business ideas". Retrieved 15 March 2014.
  19. ^ Teather, David (28 March 2008). "His next trick – designing the ultimate home page". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  20. ^ "Team – PROfounders Capital". n.d. Archived from the original on 20 November 2016. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  21. ^ " gets £2.5m to change furniture industry". Real Business. 23 March 2010. Archived from the original on 28 August 2012. Retrieved 15 March 2014.
  22. ^ a b "Brent Hoberman leaves PROfounders Capital". n.d. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  23. ^ "Founders Forum". n.d. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  24. ^ a b Volpicelli, Gian (12 June 2017). "Brent Hoberman left and formed an empire. This is how he did it". Wired. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  25. ^ Loizou, Kiki (14 September 2014). "I was proud to be voted one of the most difficult CEOs to work with". The Times. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  26. ^ Moules, Jonathan (14 December 2014). "On the path of digital disruption". Financial Times. Archived from the original on 11 December 2022. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  27. ^ Burn-Callander, Rebecca (30 May 2016). "Brent Hoberman reveals plan to create 200 British start-ups". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  28. ^ Sweney, Mark (25 January 2016). "Guardian invests in Brent Hoberman's tech startup incubator". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  29. ^ Sweney, Mark (25 January 2016). "Guardian invests in Brent Hoberman's tech startup incubator". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 27 April 2020.
  30. ^ "Founders Factory signs Marks & Spencer as exclusive UK retail investor". n.d. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  31. ^ Field, Matthew (5 August 2019). "Reckitt homes in on start-ups by joining Founders Factory". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 22 April 2020.
  32. ^ "Founders Factory expands its corporate-backed accelerator to Africa". n.d. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  33. ^ "Founders Factory Africa and Netcare to fund 35 health-tech startups". TechCrunch. Retrieved 22 April 2020.
  34. ^ "Founders Factory is going live in Paris". TechCrunch. Retrieved 22 April 2020.
  35. ^ "Founders Factory launches healthtech hub in the US". Sifted. Retrieved 22 April 2020.
  36. ^ "Event networking app Grip raises $13M, as pandemic forces events to stay virtual". TechCrunch. Retrieved 10 June 2021.
  37. ^ "At Founders Forum – Policy, pitches and Prince William". n.d. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  38. ^ Moules, Jonathan (21 October 2017). "Oxford university looks to raise its game with start-up hub". Financial Times. Archived from the original on 11 December 2022. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  39. ^ "Pan-European seed fund firstminute hits a final fund close of $100M". n.d. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  40. ^ "Founders Academy launches an "alt-MBA" to train startup leaders". Sifted. 9 September 2019. Retrieved 10 June 2021.
  41. ^ "Free coding school 01 Founders launches in London with tech job guarantee". CityAM. 2 June 2021. Retrieved 10 June 2021.
  42. ^ Ackerman, Naomi (2 June 2021). "01 Founders: Free coding school offering guaranteed tech job launches". Retrieved 10 June 2021.
  43. ^ " faces collapse a year after £775mn IPO valuation". 25 October 2022. Retrieved 25 October 2022.
  44. ^ Stephen Brook, press correspondent (24 January 2007). "Brent Hoberman joins Guardian Media Group board | Economy". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 March 2014.
  45. ^ "LastMinute Founder Brent Hoberman announces he's leaving PROfounders Capital". 2 January 2016. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  46. ^ "Introducing the Digital Advisory Board – Government Digital Service". Government of the United Kingdom. n.d. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  47. ^ Fildes, Nic. "The very latest in furnishing for couch potatoes", "The Times", London, 11 April 2011.
  48. ^ "My Bottom Line: Brent Hoberman". BBC. 4 November 2010. Retrieved 15 March 2014.
  49. ^ "[ARCHIVED CONTENT] Business Council for Britain – Members – BIS". Government of the United Kingdom. Archived from the original on 4 March 2010. Retrieved 15 March 2014.
  50. ^ "Parties clash in corporate credentials battle". 15 November 2007. Archived from the original on 28 May 2011. Retrieved 15 March 2014.
  51. ^ "No. 61092". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2014. p. N9.
  52. ^ "2015 New Year Honours List" (PDF). Government of the United Kingdom. n.d. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  53. ^ "Prince William forms cyber-bullying task force - CBBC Newsround" – via
  54. ^ "PM sets up business councils for post-Brexit advice". n.d. Retrieved 4 April 2019.