Piers Linney

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Piers Linney
Born (1971-02-15) 15 February 1971 (age 53)
Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England
EducationThe University of Manchester
television personality
Known forDragons' Den
The Secret Millionaire
SpouseTara Bishop (m. 2003; div. 2018)[1]
ChildrenTiger and Electra[1]

Jonathan Piers Daniel Linney (born 15 February 1971, in Stoke-on-Trent[2][3][4]) is a British businessman and investor with a professional background in the City.[5] Linney has been recognised as one of the top 100 Black Britons and is known as a champion of entrepreneurship and growth businesses.

Linney is a non-executive director of the UK government-owned development bank, British Business Bank, which has facilitated over £12 billion[6] of financing for UK small and medium-sized businesses and also operates the StartUp Loan Company and British Patient Capital, a £2.5bn fund launched in 2018.

He was the co-CEO and owner of Genesis Communications [7] and was the co-CEO of cloud-based[7] IT business Outsourcery. He is best known for being a "dragon" on the BBC Two business series Dragons' Den (known as Shark Tank in the USA) from 2013 to 2015.

Linney also appeared on the Channel 4 series The Secret Millionaire in 2011, where he worked in Wolverhampton at a young offenders' institution.

In November 2018, Linney was named in the top 20 of Financial Times's list of the top 100 minority ethnic leaders in technology.[8] Linney was also named in the FT as one of the top 100 BAME Leaders in Tech.[9]

Linney is also content creator and public speaker focused on supporting entrepreneurs with ambitions to start-up or grow their businesses as part of his #ScaleUp initiative.[10]

Early life[edit]

Linney was born to Derek and Norma Linney in 1971. He has Bajan (Barbados) and English heritage. He grew up in Stoke-on-Trent and moved aged nine to the small former mill town of Bacup in Lancashire,[11] where he attended the local secondary modern school (Fearns) after failing his eleven-plus exam.


Linney studied accounting and law at The University of Manchester, and subsequently qualified as a solicitor with SJ Berwin. He then worked in investment banking, first at Barclays de Zoete Wedd, followed by Credit Suisse. Linney left banking in 2000 to start an internet business and has since been involved in a number of technology, media and telecommunications businesses. After becoming the CEO of a corporate finance boutique, Linney specialised in technology venture capital and securing structured equity and debt finance from US hedge funds for small and mid-cap listed companies. Linney became a partner in a €90 million alternative investment fund providing structured debt and equity financing to small cap public companies.[citation needed]

In 2007, with his business partner Simon Newton, Linney led the buyout of Genesis Communications, a mobile voice and data resale company. In 2009 Genesis acquired Thus Mobile from Cable & Wireless and rebranded as Outsourcery to focus on cloud IT and communications. In 2012 the mobile business arm was sold to Daisy Group for £15 million.[12][13]

Outsourcery was floated on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) in 2013 raising £13 million.[14] The business was provided with a debt facility by Vodafone.[clarification needed] In June 2016 the business was sold for an undisclosed sum and the company placed into administration, having reached revenues of £10m, but remaining unprofitable.[citation needed]

Linney was a founding member of the governance board of the UK's Cloud Industry Forum[15] and has made appearance in the media to discuss the benefits of cloud computing.[citation needed] In 2014, Linney joined the Cabinet Office SME Panel, advising on small and medium business issues.[16] Linney established the now defunct not-for-profit organisation workinsight.org, a national digital platform that connects young people to local employers.[17]

Linney is a founding trustee of the Powerlist Foundation,[18] and is also a trustee of both the innovation charity Nesta[19] and careers website Plotr.[20] Linney is involved with Virgin Unite[21] and a range of other charities as a donor or patron.


In 2013, Linney was recognised in the JP Morgan-sponsored Power List 2013 as one of the top 100 most influential black Britons.[22] In 2014, Linney was named Entrepreneur Leader of the Year at the first Black British Business Awards sponsored by EY.[23]

Dragons' Den[edit]

In 2013, Linney joined the panel on the BBC Two television series Dragons' Den, along with fellow new dragon Kelly Hoppen beginning in the eleventh series. In January 2015, Linney announced that he would be departing from the show at the end of series twelve, in order to focus on other projects.[24] Linney invested in Wonderbly (formerly Lost My Name), an award winning independent technology and publishing business that offers personalised children's picture books. Launched in 2012, Wonderbly has sold over 2.7 million books in over 200 countries around the world. Wonderbly raised $8.5m in 2017 from Ravensburger, a leading European publisher of games, puzzles, and children’s books and its existing investors include Google Ventures, Project A Ventures, Greycroft, The Chernin Group and Allen & Co.[25]

Personal life[edit]

Linney married Tara Bishop and they have two children, Tiger and Electra.[1] Linney and Bishop were divorced in 2018. [26]


  1. ^ a b c Daisy Buchanan (11 August 2013). "Dragon's Den Piers Linney: 10 things you need to know about new Dragon". Mirror Online. Retrieved 18 August 2013.
  2. ^ Piers Linney biography at Dragons' Den, BBC Two. Archived 3 August 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Findmypast.
  4. ^ "Piers Linney Net Worth", Spear's.
  5. ^ "Piers Linney – British Business Bank". British Business Bank. Retrieved 26 November 2018.
  6. ^ "| British Business Bank". British Business Bank. British Business Bank. 26 November 2018. Retrieved 26 November 2018.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  7. ^ a b "Piers Linney on the acquisition of Genesis Communications". Retrieved 26 November 2018.
  8. ^ "The UK's top 100 black and minority ethnic leaders in technology". Financial Times. 14 November 2018. Retrieved 26 November 2018.
  9. ^ "Top 10: The most influential BAME tech leaders in the UK". Financial Times. 13 November 2018. Retrieved 26 November 2018.
  10. ^ Piers Linney (18 November 2018), What is #ScaleUp?, retrieved 26 November 2018
  11. ^ Hannah Prevett, Emilie Sandy, "Dragons' Den star Piers Linney is sitting pretty", Elite Business, 2 May 2014.
  12. ^ Begum (12 November 2013), Shelina (12 November 2013). "Outsourcery on cloud nine". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 8 August 2014.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  13. ^ James Graham (3 September 2013). "Outsourcery sells mobile business – The Business Desk website". www.thebusinessdesk.com. Retrieved 9 April 2014.
  14. ^ Doug Woodburn (22 April 2011). "Piers Linney: If you're not gunning for £100m, get out of cloud – CRN website". www.channelweb.co.uk. Retrieved 9 April 2014.
  15. ^ Cloud Industry Forum (8 September 2012). "Piers Linney – Cloud Industry Forum website". www.cloudindustryforum.org. Archived from the original on 13 April 2014. Retrieved 9 April 2014.
  16. ^ Cabinet Office (28 July 2014). "Dragons' Den investor Piers Linney joins Cabinet Office SME Panel". Gov.uk. Retrieved 8 August 2014.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  17. ^ New Business (8 May 2014). "Technology entrepreneur and Dragons' Den star launches innovative digital portal to transform work experience". newbusiness. Retrieved 8 August 2014. {{cite web}}: |last1= has generic name (help)CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  18. ^ Powerlist Foundation (13 November 2011). "Piers Linney Trustee – Powerlist Foundation website". Powerlist Foundation. Archived from the original on 13 April 2014. Retrieved 9 April 2014.
  19. ^ Nesta (24 January 2014). "Piers Linney Trustee". Nesta. Retrieved 9 April 2014.
  20. ^ Enterprise Nation. "Enterprise Nation Founder Emma Jones joins Plotr as Chair". Enterprise Nation. Retrieved 8 August 2014.
  21. ^ Natalie Graham (27 September 2013). "Piers Linney: I won't take no for an answer". FT Online. Retrieved 9 April 2014.
  22. ^ Kaya Burgess (12 March 2013). "Piers Linney, Dragons' Den latest, flies in from the cloud". The Times. Retrieved 9 April 2014.
  23. ^ 2014 winners. Black British Business Awards.
  24. ^ Rebecca Burn Callander, "Piers Linney quits Dragons' Den after just two years", Daily Telegraph, 30 January 2015.
  25. ^ "Lost My Name, the tech-driven kids book publisher, raises $8.5M and partners with Roald Dahl Estate". TechCrunch. Retrieved 26 November 2018.
  26. ^ "Piers Linney I ScaleUp". Piers Linney I ScaleUp. Retrieved 20 December 2018.

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