Jez San

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Jez San
Born (1966-03-29) 29 March 1966 (age 54)
OccupationGame programmer, entrepreneur

Jeremy Elliott "Jez" San OBE (born 29 March 1966) is an English game programmer and entrepreneur who founded Argonaut Software as a teenager in the 1980s. He is best known for the 1986 Atari ST game Starglider and helping to design the Super FX chip used in Star Fox for the Super NES.

Early career[edit]

San received his first computer, a TRS-80, at the age of twelve in 1978 from his father, who had a career in exporting the belongings of immigrants at the time.[1][2] San first became interested in video game development at a young age after playing a Multi-user dungeon (MUD) in the 1970s.[3] Within a year he taught himself assembly language for several microprocessors.[citation needed]

San founded Argonaut Software as a teenager in high school at JFS[2][4] as a way to get software consulting jobs with large companies.[citation needed] He worked on security systems with British Telecom and Acorn. In 1984, he started developing his first game, Skyline Attack for the Commodore 64, and also co-wrote a book, Quantum Theory, about the Sinclair QL. He became a wizard (admin) at Essex MUD, the world's first multiplayer online role-playing game.[5]

San's late-1986 game Starglider for the Atari ST and the Commodore Amiga sold hundreds of thousands of copies[citation needed] (earning him £2 per copy in royalties). The money helped launch Argonaut as a larger company that started hiring other people in 1986.[citation needed]

Argonaut growth and decline[edit]

In the late 1980s, Argonaut signed a deal with Nintendo. San attracted Nintendo's attention because Argonaut was the first developer to successfully design 3D modelling[clarification needed] on the NES and the Game Boy. X was published by Nintendo as the first 3D Game Boy game. San helped develop the first 3D graphics accelerator known as the Super FX chip that made Star Fox (released as Starwing in Europe) possible on the Super NES.

In 1996, Argonaut received external funding from Apax Partners and was listed publicly on the London Stock Exchange in 2000. San's stake was reduced from 90% in 1996 to almost 50% post Argonaut Games' IPO in March 2000. San also helped found ARC International when it was spun out from Argonaut in 1998 and was its largest shareholder on IPO. San made substantial share sales during the flotation by Goldman Sachs and Warburg and in 2007 fully exited ARC. Between 1999 and 2002, San funded Codeplay and is currently[when?] the majority shareholder.

San received an OBE in 2002, the first explicitly awarded for services to the video game industry.

After announcing a substantial loss in August 2004, Argonaut Group PLC suspended trading of its shares in October and appointed administrators for Argonaut Software Ltd, Morpheme Ltd and Just Add Monsters Ltd—the wholly owned subsidiaries of the PLC. The administrators sold Morpheme and Just Add Monsters back to Jez San and the other founders as ongoing businesses, while Argonaut Software Ltd was eventually liquidated.[6]


In November 2004, Just Add Monsters became Ninja Theory and continued the development of PlayStation 3 first-party game Heavenly Sword, which debuted three years later in September 2007. Also in 2004, Morpheme became Morpheme Wireless Ltd for a while before San left, and it was eventually consumed by Eidos/SCi before being shut down in 2009.

After taking a hiatus from the video game industry in 2004, San founded Crunchy Frog Ltd, which in 2005 became online poker company PKR.[7] San served as President, having hired his replacement with CEO Malcolm Graham,[7] formerly of the Ritz Casino and AntFactory. PKR was a 3D online poker site that operated in legal territories in Europe, Asia, and Canada but did not operate in the US, where online gambling was a grey area. In May 2017, PKR went into administration. San was only an investor at the time of its collapse and expressed sorrow at seeing his creation fold.[8]

In 2008, San co-founded mobile application developer and publisher Origin8 with game industry colleague Foo Katan. The company produces iPhone and BlackBerry software, and has offices in London.[citation needed]

San is a life member of BAFTA, and was an advisory board member of the GDC and TIGA for several years.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Retro Gamer Team (27 May 2014). "The Making of Starglider". Retro Gamer. United Kingdom: Imagine Publishing.
  2. ^ a b Liggero, Ba=ecky (30 July 2014). "Gaming Industry Innovators: Jez San, Founder of PKR, OBE, entrepreneur, innovator, husband and father". Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  3. ^ "Jez San OBE". Blockchain Live. Partnership Media Group Limited. Archived from the original on 21 October 2017. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  4. ^ Brookes, Jason; Bielby, Matt (May 1993). "Superplay interview: Jez San, Argonaut". Super Play. United Kingdom: Future Publishing.
  5. ^ Bartle, Richard A. "Introducing the wizards". Retrieved 26 November 2018.
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 1 October 2005. Retrieved 17 February 2007.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 16 May 2010. Retrieved 4 September 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ "'A shame to watch my baby die': PKR founder Jez San on poker site's demise - Casinopedia". 4 July 2017. Archived from the original on 13 August 2017.

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