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Business Comment

Simon English: Rightmove founder is worth his millions


Outlook Sometimes, if only in a concession to optimism, you have to give credit where it is due. Amid the seeming endless tales of City banker malfeasance and corporate fibbing, genuine success stories exist.

Yesterday, Ed Williams, co-founder of the property website Rightmove, said he would retire aged 50. (His personal wealth equals roughly £1m for every year he has so far lived, and £1m a year for every year he probably has left.)

When it comes to bankers, financiers, schemers – the folk who don't create wealth, they just shift it in their own direction – it is highly tempting to decide that none of them are worth £50m. None of them.

Mr Williams is different. He genuinely did do good by doing well. When Rightmove floated in 2006 it could have been just another inflated dot.com deal. The shares might have splurged long enough for retail punters to buy into the story just as the City cashed out.

Instead it has grown from a company worth £425m when it joined the stock market to one now valued at £1.7bn. In the meantime, people who pay tax were employed, and even, perhaps, treated decently. Life got better for lots of folk.

Genuine entrepreneurs like Mr Williams are what we need. Perhaps some bankers helped him along the way. Or perhaps he found all of them tediously, relentlessly self-interested in ways he is not.

Here's hoping he will do something good with the bulk of the £50m he plainly does not need.