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Gareth Williams
Internet
Rank 2017
32
Worth
£215m
Rise/fall
£135m
A coder might expect to be more familiar with software pirates than the real-life variety, but Williams, who co-founded the flight search website Skyscanner, once came face to face with machete-wielding attackers. During a diving holiday with his wife in Zanzibar, his fellow tourists were robbed of passports and wallets but Williams's cabin was so messy, his valuables were left untouched. "It was a really frightening experience," he said.
   Williams had worked in software development for Cantor Fitzgerald and Marks & Spencer after taking a computer science and maths degree at Manchester University. He set up Skyscanner in 2002 with university friends Barry Smith and Bonamy Grimes (qv) after struggling to find cheap flights on the internet so he could go skiing. It took 18 months from writing Edinburgh-based Skyscanner's first program before the business made a sale – and that was for a meagre £46.
   Turnover has grown strongly, with the business making £12.9m profit on £119.7m sales in 2015. Last November China's biggest travel services company, Ctrip, said it would buy Skyscanner for £1.4bn. Williams, 48, owned about 15% of the operation, a stake valued at £210m by the deal.