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Producing a list of Europe’s top technology entrepreneurs was no easy task. Working with Founders Forum, nominations were sought from across the continent, sent in by people affiliated with their network of entrepreneurs, leading tech industry executives and investors, Financial Times readers and members of the public through Twitter and Facebook.

To be eligible, entrepreneurs must be European nationals or have made Europe their home in running a tech business. They must also be the chief executive or part of the founding team of a technology company, remaining actively involved in the organisation or in related entrepreneurial endeavours. This stipulation excluded some who would have otherwise been excellent choices, such as Skype co-founder Niklas Zennström, Autonomy founder Mike Lynch and ARM founder Hermann Hauser, all of whom have now become prominent investors.

A longlist of just over 150 names was then whittled down to 50 by a judging panel (below). The judges were influenced by a number of factors, including the current impact of an entrepreneur, the innovation of their work and whether they have global standing. With this in mind, the judges each voted on their preferred candidates, which created a final ranking.

We also wanted to shine a spotlight on young tech entrepreneurs, at the start of their careers but beginning to make a major impact. Accordingly, our judges also voted on candidates aged 30 or under to create a Top 10 ranking. However, some of these young founders have already achieved so much that it was determined they also deserved entry on to the main Top 50 list.

The Top 50 list was written by Murad Ahmed, Sally Davies and Spencer Brown, with additional research by Jordan Harries

Judging panel

Caroline Daniel, editor of FT Weekend. Daniel joined the FT in 1999 and has worked in many prominent roles across the paper, including White House correspondent and comment and analysis editor. Her interest in all things tech has continued since she was IT correspondent, covering the internet boom and bust.

Mathias Döpfner, chief executive, Axel Springer. For 13 years, Döpfner has run one of Europe’s leading publishing groups, Germany’s Axel Springer. As the internet age ravages other media organisations, his continues to make huge profits. He was previously an editor-in-chief of Die Welt, the German national newspaper.

Maelle Gavet, executive vice-president of global operations, Priceline. French-born Gavet is considered one of the world’s leading female tech executives. After becoming chief executive of Ozon in 2011, she transformed the Moscow-based group into an ecommerce giant and Russia’s answer to Amazon.

Brent Hoberman, co-founder and chairman, Founders Forum. Hoberman was Britain’s internet standard-bearer during the dotcom boom, founding Lastminute.com in 1998. In 2006, he co-founded Founders Forum, a series of meetings for leading entrepreneurs across the world. He is also the chairman and co-founder of Made.com, an online homewares group based in the UK.

Reid Hoffman, executive chairman and co-founder, LinkedIn. One of Silicon Valley’s most heralded entrepreneurs, Hoffman was an early employee at PayPal before founding LinkedIn in 2002, now the world’s most used professional social network. He is also a leading tech investor and an early backer of Facebook and Airbnb.

Xavier Niel, founder, Iliad. One of France’s most high-profile and successful businessmen, Niel is best known for founding Iliad, the French internet service provider and mobile operator, which runs the Free brand. He is also the co-owner of Le Monde, the French newspaper.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.
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