I’m a Brit, born in a remote village in Pakistan, in 1957, and spent my early years in Pakistan, India and (pre-war, beautiful) Afghanistan, where my father worked as a missionary eye surgeon. I have two sisters—one is five years older than the other, and I’m right in the middle.
We went to a wonderful (American) school in the Himalayan mountains in India for our early schooling years. At 13 I was transferred to boarding school in Bath, England… followed by Oxford University. Initially studied Physics, but switched to Philosophy and graduated in 1978.
I entered journalism training, worked in local newspapers and then spent two years producing a world news service on a radio station in the Seychelle Islands. Back in the UK in 1984 I got hooked on computing, and snagged a job as magazine editor of one of the early computer magazines. After a year, decided to try to launch my own.
I started Future Publishing in 1985 with a $25,000 bank loan and no outside equity investors. For seven years, revenue and profits pretty much doubled every year… Then I sold the business to Pearson and moved to the US in 1994 to try again in a bigger playing field. Imagine Media achieved significant success with Business 2.0 and other magazines. I eventually re-merged Imagine with Future and took the entity public in London in June 1999. We enjoyed a year of stock-market glory (2000 people, ridiculous market cap, 130 magazines, etc, etc.) but then… …the popping of the technology bubble in 2000 meant that our advertisers and investors ran for the hills and Future had to be slashed to its core. Half the company lost their jobs. A tough two years followed, in which, like many other entrepreneurs of the time, I saw 95% of the value I thought I’d built evaporate. (And for a while it looked like it it would be 100%!)
Future finally regained financial stability, partly through the timely sale of Business 2.0. I felt re-energized and ready to move on. I left Future at the end of 2001 to focus on TED, which had been acquired by my foundation. Overseeing TED’s continued growth, and movement into new areas (such as this website) has been a blast.