Who is Piers Linney? 12 key facts about Dragons’ Den’s latest recruit
Startups provides the lowdown on the BBC’s latest millionaire investor
Known as a pioneer of cloud computing, 42-year-old Lancastrian Piers Linney is already a key figure in the tech scene.
His cloud-based firm Outsourcery is currently the leading provider of cloud-based IT and business communications solutions, employing more than 150 staff across three offices.
But following the BBC's appointment of the digital entrepreneur as the latest millionaire investor to join Dragons' Den, Piers Linney is set to become not just a face among the tech savvy crowd, but a nationwide household name.
We've compiled a list of 12 key facts on the latest Dragon, who is listed at Companies House as Jonathan Piers Daniel Linney, to help you get to know the entrepreneur before he hits our screens this Autumn.
1) He has been running Outsourcery since 2007
Along with business partner Simon Newton, Linney bought mobile and data service provider Genesis in 2007 from FTSE 100 company DSG International. Shifting the focus onto cloud-based solutions for businesses, such as outsourced telecommunications Linney rebranded the firm as Outsourcery and saw a steep increase in turnover.
2) His firm has expanded rapidly since
As co-CEO, Linney has grown Outsourcery to an annual turnover of circa £10m and a staff base in excess of 150. Following the win of a £6.4m contract with publishing giant Pearson Group and a £4m fundraising round last year, Linney is predicting a turnover of £100m by 2015. In 2011 Outsourcery sold its Vodafone mobile services division to the Daisy Group for £12m and the firm is expected to pursue a public market flotation in the next few years.
3) He is a pioneer of cloud-computing
Linney sits on the governance board of the Cloud Industry Forum, established in 2009 to encourage the adoption and usage of cloud-based solutions among individuals and businesses.
4) He is a fully qualified lawyer
After studying law and accounting at the University of Manchester, Linney went on to land a job at City law firm SJ Berwin in 1995.
5) He has 15 years of investment experience
Linney left SJ Berwin to become an investment banker at Barclays de Zoete Wedd in 1998, where he dealt in mergers and acquisitions. In 2003 Linney launched a venture capital firm, which went onto become Tower Gate Capital Plc. The digital entrepreneur also has a great deal of prior experience of investing in and mentoring start-up businesses, such as those set to pitch in the Den.
6) He's been a ‘Dragon' before
In 2011, he sat on the judging panel of Metro newspaper competition Venture Candy with Channel 4 property show presenter and businesswoman Sarah Beeny, Innocent Drinks' Richard Reed, and Jo Malone MBE, the founder of her eponymous perfumes and cosmetics brand. Among the winners was Growing Business Young Gun Hayley Gait-Golding, who set up sugar-free and natural snacks company BEAR and took the food and drink category award.
7) He has worked in the music industry
Prior to launching Tower Gate Capital, Linney dabbled in the music industry as COO of record label TrusttheDJ, run by Radio One controller Matthew Bannister.
8) He is a Secret Millionaire
In 2011 Linney starred in the Channel 4 series The Secret Millionaire, where he worked with charities including The Shannon Trust, designed to boost reading in prisons, Story Book Dads for children of imprisoned young offenders and the African Caribbean Community Initiative. Determined not to “smile for the camera, write a cheque and then disappear” (http://www.channel4.com/programmes/the-secret-millionaire/articles/interview-with-piers-linney), Linney has continued to work with some of the charities and has even recruited one young offender into his company.
9) He is a former Growing Business contributor
An experienced entrepreneur and investor, Linney has shared his expertise on our sister site Growing Business, where he discussed cloud-computing, managing a work-life balance, business diversity and other rising entrepreneurs.
10) He is a black British role model
The son of a Barbadian mother and an English father, Linney was selected as a role model for the government's REACH programme, designed to raise the aspirations and achievements of young black men in the UK with advice and support from inspirational black British men. Linney is also named in The Power List of the UK's 100 most influential black Britons.
11) He has a small but loyal Twitter following
Linney is a keen tweeter, most recently sharing photos and news of his trip to South Africa with Richard Branson for the Virgin Unite Connection Trip, where he met with locals who were driving entrepreneurial change in their communities. At present Linney has just over 2,000 Twitter followers. We predict this figure is set to shoot up rather rapidly.
12) He's a keen mountain bike rider
Having ridden BMX bikes as a teenager, he's still an enthusiast when it comes to the two-wheeled activity, and can perform stunts on a mountain bike. For a photoshoot with Growing Business he executed a series of outrageous wheelies when riding the bike off a patio table dressed in a crisp white fitted shirt and jeans. And while he came a cropper on one occasion, he showed grit and determination, climbing straight back on. No doubt he'll expect to meet equally strong personalities in the Den!