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Biography of Mark SHUTTLEWORTH

South Africa > Business : Mark SHUTTLEWORTH

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Born on 18/09/1973 (format : day/month/year)

Biography :

Mark Shuttleworth (b.September 18,1973), is a South African entrepreneur with a love of technology, innovation,change and space flight. He was the first African in space in 2002.

He currently lives in London, where he is an active member of the Ubuntu community - working to create a universal, freely available high quality desktop software environment for everyone. He funds HBD Venture Capital, an investment company based in South Africa, along with The Shuttleworth Foundation, a non-profit organisation that accelerates social innovation in Africa with a particular focus on education.

Mark was born in the dusty gold-mining town of Welkom in South Africa, and grew up in beautiful Cape Town. His passion for technology first showed up as a love of computer games. While studying towards a Business Science degree in Finance and Information Systems at the University of Cape Town (UCT) he first encountered the Internet, and quickly became intrigued by the changes it would bring in business and society.

In 1995, his final year at UCT, Mark founded Thawte, as an Internet consulting business. The focus of the company quickly shifted to Internet security for electronic commerce. Thawte became the first company to produce a full-security encrypted e-commerce web server that was commercially available outside the United States. This brought Thawte to the world of public key infrastructure, which is the basis for all encrypted and authenticated Internet transactions. Thawte was one of the first companies to be recognized by both Netscape and Microsoft as a trusted third party for web site certification, and it quickly established a leadership position helping businesses around the world accept secure transactions over the web. By 1999, when it was acquired by VeriSign, Thawte was fastest-growing internet certificate authority worldwide, and was the leading certificate authority outside of the USA.

Believing that entrepreneurs in South Africa have the potential to start businesses with global impact, Mark formed a new venture capital team called HBD. The name is a reference to the phrase “Here Be Dragons”, which legend has it was used to describe uncharted territory on early maps. HBD seeks to invest in innovative companies that are based in South Africa but that have the potential to serve a global marketplace. HBD has invested in several South African companies in a variety of sectors, such as software, pharmaceutical services, electronics and mobile phone services.

In the hope that risk capital can be as important for social development as it is for the economy, Mark has also created a non-profit organisation that supports social innovation in education in Africa. The Shuttleworth Foundation funds projects that have the potential to bring about dramatic improvements to some aspect of the education system and hopes to improve both the quality and the reach of education in Africa. The Foundation has worked in all 9 provinces of South Africa, funding initiatives from teachers, small businesses and private individuals. The Foundation is a catalyst for accelerated change in civil society. It seeks to identify ideas that have the potential to create tremendous change for good in civil society, and funds them for implementation in South Africa. The ideas can be South African in origin, but the Foundation also seeks to identify global trends and to bring new ideas to South Africa that are working well in other countries.

In April 2002 Mark realised a lifelong dream to fly in space. He spent a year working on the project, including seven months of formal training at Star City in Russia, and almost as much time in medical testing, science program development and negotiations. The First African in Space project was without doubt the most challenging and exciting project any geek could wish for. He was a member of the crew of Soyuz TM-34, launched from Baikonur in Kazakhstan and docked with the International Space Station two days later. The mission included 8 days working on the ISS, conducting a program of South African science experiments and enjoying the extraordinary environment of weightlessness before coming back to earth with a bump. Since then, he has worked on a roadshow to share that experience as well as his excitement about science, mathematics and technology with pupils across South Africa. The science and maths show has been seen by more than 100,000 pupils from nearly 2,000 schools. It has spawned a plethora of initiatives under the Hip2BSquare brand, which aim to make mathematics and science sexy to pupils who are choosing their subjects for high school.

Last update : 07/02/2008

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