Neville Roy Singham

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Neville Roy Singham
Born (1954-05-13) May 13, 1954 (age 69)
United States
Alma materHoward University[1]
Occupation(s)Thoughtworks chairman, Social activist
Known forThoughtworks
ParentArchibald Singham (father)

Neville Roy Singham (born May 13, 1954) is an American businessman and social activist. He is the founder and former chairman of Thoughtworks, an IT consulting company that provides custom software, software tools, and consulting services, which he sold to a private equity firm for $785 million in 2017.

A socialist and supporter of Maoism, according to The New York Times, Singham has helped fund causes and groups that promote pro-Chinese government messages.

Early life[edit]

Singham's father Archibald Singham was Sri Lankan, while his mother was Cuban.[2][3] In his youth, Singham was a member of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers, a Black nationalistMaoist group, taking a job at a Chrysler plant in Detroit in 1972 as an activist in the group.[4] He attended Howard University before starting a consulting firm for equipment-leasing companies from his Chicago home.[4]


Singham founded Thoughtworks, a Chicago-based IT consulting company that provides custom software, software tools, and consulting services, in the late 1980s; it was incorporated in 1993.[5][6]

From 2001 to 2008, Singham was a strategic technical consultant for Huawei.[4][6]

By 2008, Thoughtworks employed 1,000 people and was growing at the rate of 20–30% p.a., with bases around the world. Its clients included Microsoft, Oracle, major banks, and The Guardian newspaper.[7] Singham owned 97% of the common stock of the company.[7] By 2010, its clients included Daimler AG, Siemens and Barclays, and had opened a second headquarters in Bangalore.[8]

In 2010, he opened Thoughtworks' Fifth Agile Software Development Conference in Beijing, where he spoke about his influence on Huawei.[4]

Singham sold the company to private equity firm Apax Partners in 2017 for $785 million, by which time it had 4,500 employees across 15 countries, including South Africa and Uganda.[5][9][10]: 1 Its chief scientist, Martin Fowler, wrote that Singham had not been involved in the running of the business for some years by that time:

"While I was surprised to hear that he was selling the company, the news was not unexpected. Over the last few years Roy has been increasingly involved in his activist work, and spending little time running ThoughtWorks. ... He's been able to do this because he's built a management team that's capable of running the company largely without him. But as I saw him spend more energy on his activist work, it was apparent it would be appealing to him to accelerate that activism with the money that selling ThoughtWorks would bring."[6][11]

Singham has business interests in Chinese companies in the food and consultancy markets.[4] As of 2023, his office is in Shanghai, and is shared with the Maku Group, "whose goal is to educate foreigners about 'the miracles that China has created on the world stage'" and to which has given nearly $1.8 million funding.[12]

Ideas and positions[edit]

Ideas About Business[edit]

At Thoughtworks, Singham was a pioneer of agile software development[5][13] and has helped popularize Lean manufacturing, such as that used in the Toyota business model.[14]

Singham opposes proprietary software development and supports open access and the Creative Commons movement. In 2008, Singham said, "As a socialist I believe the world should have access to the best ideas in software for free. My goal is a technically-superior infrastructure to solve the world's problems."[7][15] In the same interview, he described himself as a big fan of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, describing the country under his rule as a "phenomenally democratic place." He also described his admiration for China, where Thoughtworks had a growing operation, describing it as a model for governance: "China is teaching the West that the world is better off with a dual system of both free-market adjustments and long-term planning."[7]


According to his associates, Singham is an admirer of Maoism.[10] Tricontinental Institute's executive director, Vijay Prashad described Singham as “A Marxist with a massive software company!”[10]

He is a supporter of WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange, speaking in his defense at a 2011 event hosted by the The Real News Network, alongside fellow activist software businessman Peter Thiel and former intelligence whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg.[16] Alongside Ellsberg, he has also advocated for hackers such as Jeremy Hammond and Aaron Swartz—the latter, a friend of Singham's, having worked for him at Thoughtworks when he committed suicide while facing prosecution by the US government.[17] Singham described Swartz's prosecution as "part of a coordinated campaign to scare young Internet activists" in the age of WikiLeaks.[18]

In a 2013 interview, he advocated for frugal innovation, describing Thoughtworks' investments in such projects in India, Brazil and China.[19]

In a November 2022 report, Intelligence Online wrote that Singham was trying to establish a U.S.-based movement for peace in Ukraine and opposing NATO enlargement.[20]

In July 2023, Singham "joined a Communist Party workshop" about international promotion of the Chinese Communist Party.[10]

Funding network and allegations of Chinese government links[edit]

In 2021, India's Enforcement Directorate named Singham in a money laundering case, alleging that he was the source of 380 million ($5 million) given to Indian news site People's Dispatch between 2018 and 2021, to promote a pro-Chinese narrative in the Indian media.[3][21] The funds were alleged to have passed through a network of companies and NGOs including Delaware-based Worldwide Media Holdings (allegedly owned by Singham), and the Justice and Education Fund, GSPAN LLC and the Tricontinental Institute (which allegedly shared the same address) in the US, and Centro Popular de Mídias, Brazil.[21][22][15][12]

According to a January 2022 report by New Lines Magazine of the Newlines Institute, a think tank led by Hassan Hassan at the Fairfax University of America, Singham has donated almost $65 million to non-profit organizations, including Code Pink.[4]

In August 2023, The New York Times reported that Singham works closely with the Chinese government and state media, and donates to various groups, news organizations and entities through non-profit groups and shell companies which spread pro-Chinese government messages.[10] The non-profits distributing the funding included the United Community Fund, Justice and Education Fund and People's Support Foundation, have addresses at UPS store mailboxes in Illinois, Wisconsin and New York, and headed by Jodie Evans or former ThoughtWorks employees. Funded groups include: an Indian-based independent news site, NewsClick, that the Times described as having "sprinkled its coverage with Chinese government talking points"; in South Africa the Nkrumah School, the Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party and the New Frame news startup[23] (whose editor had resigned in 2022 citing its "soft coverage" of China and Russia); the Brasil de Fato newspaper in Brazil; and activist groups No Cold War, Code Pink, People’s Forum, and Tricontinental in the United States. In response to the Times report, Singham said that he was not a "member of, work for, take orders from, or follow instructions of any political party or government or their representatives".[10]

Following the August 2023 New York Times report, US senator Marco Rubio asked the United States Department of Justice to open an investigation into entities related to Singham for potential violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).[24]

Personal life[edit]

Singham lives in Shanghai, China.[12][4] He is married to Code Pink's Jodie Evans. Their wedding was attended by Amy Goodman, host of 'Democracy Now!'; Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream; and V, the playwright formerly known as Eve Ensler, who wrote 'The Vagina Monologues'.[10]

His son Nathan (Nate) Singham works for the Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research.[25][4]


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  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Reid Ross, Alexander; Dobson, Courtney (January 18, 2022). "The Big Business of Uyghur Genocide Denial". New Lines. Fairfax University of America. Archived from the original on January 18, 2022. Retrieved January 19, 2022.
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  17. ^ Pilkington, Ed (2013-11-04). "Lawyers in Stratfor leak case present letters of support ahead of sentencing". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2022-01-26. Retrieved 2022-01-26.
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  21. ^ a b Thakur, Pradeep (2021-07-18). "ED probes media portal's funding from businessman 'linked' to China regime". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 2022-01-26. Retrieved 2022-01-26.
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