Brent Hoberman

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Brent Hoberman

Brent Shawzin Hoberman CBE (born 25 November 1968) is a British entrepreneur. Together with Martha Lane Fox, he founded in 1998, an online travel and gift business. As CEO, Hoberman successively floated and later sold Ltd to Sabre who purchased the company’s equity and bond debt for £577 million (including additional gross debt of approximately £79 million and estimated cash at bank in hand of approximately £72 million). In 2006, Hoberman handed over the CEO position to Ian McCaig, although he remained as Chairman and Chief Strategic officer until 2007.

Current business activities[edit]

Brent 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.[1]

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 [2]

Hoberman is a Governor of the University of the Arts London and a Non-Executive Board Director of Guardian Media Group.[3] In 2007, Hoberman took on the role of Non-Executive Chairman of - a travel and leisure social network. In December 2009, he stepped down from the board of He is also an angel investor in several internet companies including Viagogo, erepublik, and Hoberman joined The Business Council for Britain in July 2009.[4]

In 2009, Hoberman was selected as one of the World Economic Forum's Global Young Leaders for the UK . In July 2009, Brent co-founded PROfounders Capital [1] with Michael Birch, Peter Dubens, Jonnie Goodwin, Rogan Angelini-Hurll and Sean Seton-Rogers. The fund invests in early stage internet investors, and in 2010 invested in start-up, a joint venture between and founder Ning Li.[5]. End of 2016 it was reported that Hoberman was leaving PROFounders.

Hoberman was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2015 New Year Honours for services to entrepreneurship.[6][7]

Hoberman is also a co-founder of FoundersForum[8] which is 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. Speakers at the events have included prominent figures from the technology sector like Eric Schmidt, Reid Hoffman and Arianna Huffington. The events are by invitation only and Hoberman states that Founders Forum is a "meritocracy" and "Its anything but an old boys club".[9] The 2015 London event has been criticised for not supporting female entrepreneurs. Jemima Kiss, the Head of Technology[10] of the Guardian wrote[11] about the lack of representation by women at the June 2015 London event. Kiss's article states that there were 68 men speakers and 4 women speakers at the London 2015 event, further that some of the female attendees that Kiss spoke to said they "can’t talk about it for fear of losing their funding" and that "No one wanted to speak on record, lest they lose their invite to the next event" and that "Two male executives I spoke to didn’t want to rock the boat by complaining about the lack of female talent". One of the women who were at the event, the angel investor Sherry Coutu expressed her view on Twitter and asked, with reference to one of the panels, "where are the women".[12]

Hoberman responded to Jemima Kiss's article about Founders Forum by publishing a letter[13] in the Guardian in which he states that: Founders Forum has a published criteria which they stick to and that the headline of Kiss's article had missed the cause and effect of the gender imbalance in tech. He also states that "Not believing in tokenism does not make an event institutionally sexist." and "would welcome an intelligent debate on this, just as we would on diversity in tech in general – which goes beyond gender."

Early life and education[edit]

Brent Hoberman was born on 25 November 1968. Hoberman was educated at the Dragon School in Oxford, then Eton College and subsequently at New College, Oxford. He is married with two daughters and one son.

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".[14]

Hoberman has stated that he believes what makes a business successful is passion; in an interview with BBC 'The Bottom Line',[15] 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.

Public and political activities[edit]

Hoberman is 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.[16]