Rowland back in dot.com game with social media flotation

Jonathan Rowland, the investor who made his name during the dot.com boom, is to return to the technology market with the launch of an investment vehicle targeting social media companies.

Over a decade ago, Mr Rowland's investments made him more than £40m at the age of just 25, and yesterday he announced the intention to float his new venture, Jellybook, on the Alternative Investment Market.

Jellybook – a reference to his earlier investment vehicle Jellyworks – will focus on digital media and social networking companies. This comes at a time of huge interest around investing in digital companies, especially those with social networking operations.

LinkedIn, the professional networking site, saw its shares double on their first day of trading in New York last month, and there has been huge interest in discount site Groupon, which has filed its IPO papers. The market also anticipates a similar move from Zynga and Facebook. Jellybook will be targeting companies this side of the Atlantic.

Mr Rowland, the son of property tycoon and former Tory party treasurer David "Spotty" Rowland, said: "The rise of social media in the past five years has been a development of global proportions," before adding: "Yet until now public market investors have had limited opportunities to invest in this fast-growing sector. We believe that Jellybook will provide them with that opportunity in the UK."

In the drive to make Jellybook "a leading European social media company", Mr Rowland has called in some heavy hitters in the industry to bolster its credentials. These include Julie Meyer, who set up Ariadne Capital in 2000 and was behind networking forum First Tuesday. Michael Wright and Walter de Brouwer join her on the board.

The company will list on London's growth market as a cash shell and aims to make one big acquisition or investment within its first 18 months on the public markets.

The company did not want to provide further details on the potential targets before it starts trading in two weeks. The directors hope to raise a minimum of £3m from the float, which is being underwritten by the Rowland's Luxembourg-based family bank, Banque Havilland.

Mr Rowland made his name in 1999, when he founded Jellyworks, a venture backed by the Barclay Brothers, and floated it at 5p per share. He was an early investor in companies including Demon Internet and 365.com

The shares in his investment vehicle soared 2,000 per cent in just three days as the clamour for dot.com investments reached fever pitch.

Yet, the euphoria waned somewhat the following year and the shares retreated. He sold to Shore Capital in 2000, shortly before the dot.com bubble burst, and still made £42m from the deal. That was not his last venture into technology investment. He floated the Nettworx cash shell on Aim in 2005, which was also set up to target telecoms deals, and which he had dubbed at the time "Jellyworks Mark 2". Its backers included the billionaire Joe Lewis and Brent Hoberman, co-founder of Lastminute.com. It was liquidated in 2009.

Mr Rowland pointed to statistics from April last year that showed more than 110 billion minutes were spent on social networks and blogs, a fifth of all time spent online, and the numbers have soared since then.

Yet despite the strong growth, businesses in the social media sector have struggled to raise capital in the wake of the downturn.

The group said it would not be focusing specifically on any particular place, although given the board's expertise in Europe, they will be "well positioned to consolidate opportunities in Europe".

Mr Rowland added: "We believe that the investment case for Jellybook is clear and is backed by an unprecedented interest in social media, from investors to end users. Social media is helping redefine global business and the way in which people go about their daily lives."

He said the company was closely following the listings of LinkedIn and the Chinese social network Renren. It will also await Groupon's flotation after expressing its interest to float.

Mr Rowland has been chief executive of Banque Havilland for the past year. The Rowland family established the bank by picking up some Luxembourg assets from the rubble of the collapsed Icelandic group Kaupthing in July 2009.

The operation has been the focus of interest from both the Luxembourg police, and the Serious Fraud Office, although the company stressed that these visits related to operations that were taking place before the current management had become involved.

Voices
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
Arts and Entertainment
tvExecutive says content is not 'without any purpose'
News
A cleaner prepares the red carpet for the opening night during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006 in Cannes, France.
newsPowerful vacuum cleaners to be banned under EU regulations
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
News
London is the most expensive city in Europe for cultural activities such as ballet
arts
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson has rejected criticisms of his language, according to BBC director of television Danny Cohen
tv
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Application Support - Enterprise Java, SQL, Oracle, SQL Server

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A well-established financial soft...

Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Desktop, Surrey)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Deskto...

Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Desktop, Surrey)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Deskto...

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape