World’s youngest self-made billionaire is 27-years-old and hails from Ireland

At 27, John Collison is the world’s youngest self-made billionaire. It’s rumoured to be lonely at the top but luckily Collison has his 29-year-old brother, Patrick – who also counts his wealth in ten digits – to keep him company.

The two brothers from a small village in rural Ireland founded Stripe, a company which runs the software behind more than 100,000 businesses. It handles online payments as well as providing a host of other services that help make it simple for firms to run their websites.

Many people may not have heard of Stripe but it counts Tesla’s Elon Musk and PayPal founder Peter Thiel as investors. A funding round last year valued Stripe at over $9bn ($7bn), meaning the Collison brothers each have a stake worth at least $1.1bn, according to Forbes magazine.

Despite this huge success, a recent interview with the BBC suggests John and Patrick remain down to earth.

Asked about experiencing vast wealth at such a young age, John said: “People now ask this a lot and I feel like they always want some really interesting answer – and I have nothing for them.”

“People ask ‘how has your life changed?’, and they want me to have taken up some elaborate new hobby, like Faberge egg collecting or yacht racing.”

Wealth is not new to the precocious pair. They both made their first million before they even went to university, thanks to another startup which helped companies make the most out of eBay.

John went to Harvard and Patrick attended the equally prestigious Massachusetts Institute for Technology (MIT) but both dropped out in 2011, to focus on using their coding skills to build Stripe.

“You might wonder what is hard about starting an [online] business,” John told the BBC.

“Creating a product that people actually want to buy, and getting them to hear about it, all that we could handle. But getting money from people over the internet was extremely difficult.

”I remember saying to Patrick ‘how hard can it be? Maybe we should give it a try?’.“

There are numerous companies trying to help other firms process online payments but Stripe has managed to grow rapidly, priding itself on a simple business model and simple code.

In the UK it charges 1.4 per cent of the value of each transaction plus 20p, and firms can be up and running in a couple of minutes because Stripe “eliminates needless complexity and extraneous details”, according to its website.

Surpassing the billion-dollar mark doesn’t seem to have slowed the brothers’ ambitions. They point out that 5 per cent of consumer spending around the world is currently online.

”We are indexed to the growth of the internet economy. As long as the internet economy continues to grow, Stripe will continue to grow,” John told the BBC.

“I don’t know about you, but I think that is a very safe thing to bet on.”

UK’s highest paid female boss ever is worth more than Richard Branson

Bet365 founder Denise Coates was paid a salary of £199,305,000 along with dividend payments of £18m last year. But who is the billionaire gambling boss who amassed a multi-billion pound fortune after founding Bet365 in a Portakabin in Stoke-on-Trent?

Who is Denise Coates?

The 50-year-old billionaire began her career as a cashier in her father’s betting shops, known as Provincial Racing. She graduated with a first class degree in econometrics from Sheffield University and became manager of the family business when she was 22, expanding it to almost 50 shops.

She started Bet365 – still a privately held company – from a temporary office in a Stoke car park in 2000 after reportedly buying the Bet365.com domain on eBay for $25,000 (£19,000).

“We mortgaged the betting shops and put it all into online,” she said in a 2012 interview with The Guardian. “We knew the industry required big startup costs but … we gambled everything on it. We were the ultimate gamblers if you like.”

The company has since become one the biggest online gambling firms in the UK as the industry has boomed. Ms Coates retains a majority stake in the company.

She was awarded a CBE in 2012 and was named one of the 100 most powerful women in the UK in 2013 Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour. She has become known as the “patron of the Potteries” for employing a significant number of people in Stoke, however, Bet365 moved the base for much of its gambling operations to Gibraltar in 2014. Ms Coates now lives in a farmhouse in Sandbach, a market town in Cheshire, north of Stoke.

Why has she been paid £200m?

Bet365 customers wagered £47bn last year, an increase of more than £10bn on the previous year. Revenue from gambling in the 2016-17 financial year jumped 39 per cent to a record £2.15bn, while profits from gambling were up 15 per cent to £514m.

How does this compare with other pay packets?

The average pay for the bosses of Britain’s 100 largest publicly-listed companies was £4.5m last year, which was a fall of 17 per cent on the £5.4m awarded in 2015. Ms Coates has been awarded more than 40 times that sum, and more than four times last year’s highest FTSE 100 salary of £48.1m for Sir Martin Sorrell, of advertising group WPP. It’s also more than the £129m Taylor Swift is estimated to have earned last year.

Bet365 paid Ms Coates the equivalent of £3.8m per week, which is almost eight times more than FC Barcelona pay star player Lionel Messi, and 7,000 times the average full-time weekly earnings in the UK.

Even before the bumper £200m payment, Ms Coates and her family had £5bn in the bank, which is more than Sir Richard Branson, according to the most recent Sunday Times Rich List. Ms Coates is Britain’s wealthiest self-made female billionaire with her personal fortune currently estimated at £3.06bn, according to Forbes.

Controversy.

Some have expressed concern that Ms Coates’ enormous salary has come at the same time as the number of people’s lives hurt by gambling has risen.

Industry regulator the Gambling Commission estimates there are now 2 million people who are either problem gamblers or at risk of addiction.

A spokesperson for campaign group Fairer Gambling said on Monday: “As losses from Britain’s gamblers continue to spiral out of control, so has executive pay. The entire gambling industry donated just £8m to research, education and treatment last year. If these companies can afford to pay their executives millions of pounds a year, there is no excuse for such chronically underfunded treatment services.”

Coates said in a statement to shareholders that Bet365 was “committed to developing an evidence-based approach to responsible gambling”.

“To this end, the group continues to work with research partners on a number of projects to improve its methods of identifying harmful play and deliver more effective harm-minimisation interventions,” she said

“The group is assured that its efforts over the past year will continue to evolve over the coming months, and will make further progress in the prevention and minimisation of gambling-related harm.”