September 2nd, 2009
Brent co-founded lastminute.com in April 1998, with Martha Lane Fox, in the living room of his London flat three years after having drafted the initial idea. Brent was 29 and Martha was just 25. Brent was CEO since the inception of the company. lastminute.com offers consumers airline tickets, car hire, hotel rooms, package holidays, entertainment tickets, restaurant reservations, home delivery, speciality services, gifts and auctions. Brent’s initial vision remains unchanged – ‘to delight customers with great value, inspiration and solutions when they are going away, going out or staying in.’
lastminute.com remains one of Europe’s leading ecommerce companies – and is one of the only startup brands in Europe to regularly feature in the top 10 ecommerce sites in many European geographies. The company floated in March 2000 when the dotcom bubble was at its peak – the IPO was 40 times oversubscribed and the price increase during the process was a record for a UK company. lastminute.com acquired 14 businesses after the IPO to supplement the annual growth of the core brand which was over 100% from 1998 – 2004. Ten years on the company was the number one travel website in Europe and was acquired by Travelocity Europe for $1.1 billion, a division of Sabre Holdings Corporation on 20th July 2005. Estimates for gross bookings at the time of the sale in 2005 were over $2.1 billion.
Brent’s leading industry role was recognised by several organisations – these include: Time Magazines Top 25 European digital leaders, Revolution’s Internet Person of the Year and the Institute of Travel Tourism (ITT) Travel Business Person of the Year. He tends to appear in the top 15 of Wired’s European digital leaders.
Brent remained CEO of lastminute.com through 2005, until April 2006 when he handed over the CEO position to lastminute.com. Brent’s entrepreneurial vision ensured the lastminute.com customer experience was continually enhanced by the latest innovations in technology.he position of Chairman and Chief Strategy Officer of
Brent most recently founded another VC-backed internet startup, mydeco, a which was founded in February 2007 - the online furniture site that intends to revolutionise the way we shop and design for our homes, encouraging consumers to spend, socialise and play house all at the same time.
Brent spun made.com as an idea out of mydeco.com. He has been Chairman since its inception in 2011. Made.com is an innovative UK based startup that is disrupting the furniture industry by giving customers beautiful furniture and accessories direct from the makers. He is also Chair of Founders Forum a brainstorming forum described by the Guardian as ‘Davos for Geeks’. It also now has a consulting division Founders Intelligence – that helps large corporates such as GSK, Unilever, Telegraph, Global Radio work with innovative startups. Founders Keepers is the headhunting division of Founders Forum that recruits top digital talent. Brent also cofounder PROfoundersCapital, an early stage internet Venture Capital companies backed by several top entrepreneurs.
He is a Non-Executive Board Director of Guardian Media Group, easyCar (Person to person carsharing), TalkTalk Plc, Shazam. From January 2007 he took on the role of Non-Executive Chairman of wayn.com – a travel and leisure social network with over 10 million members, in December 2009, he stepped down from the board of wayn.com. He is also an angel investor in several internet companies including Viagogo, erepublik, Osper, Maven, Wayn.com and academia.edu. Brent was a Governor of the University of the Arts College London and is currently on the Rector’s advisory council.
Brent is on several advisory boards including Kenshoo, BBH, eRepublik, RankAbove, Wahanda, CultureHorde, MusicQubed, Busuu.
In 2009, Brent was selected as one of the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders for the UK
In July 2009, Brent was appointed by Prime Minister Gordon Brown to the The Business Council for Britain. He now sits on the Government digital services advisory board (GDS) and was appointed to be UK government business trade ambassador in 2010.
Brent, now 45, was born in South Africa, educated at Eton and holds a MA in French and German literature from Oxford. He lives in central London with his wife, Genevieve, two daughters and son.
In March 2010, mydeco and Profounders joined Marc Simoncini, of Meetic fame and John Hunt to found made.com :
‘We feel that discerning customers get a raw deal at the hands of the big high street furniture retailers and the expensive designer brands.
On the high street today, if you want beautiful designer furniture, you pay through the nose. Not any more
We’re making a stand. We’re taking on the furniture giants to offer you great furniture design at affordable prices. Our ambition is to bring original design to as many people as possible by revolutionising how furniture is sold and how you buy it.
By stripping out the middlemen and connecting you with the furniture makers directly we are cutting the cost to you by 50 – 80%.’