Monday 18 December 2017

Online legend Reeve stuns Paddy Power by sudden exit

Co-founder of web movie-rental business was bookie's head of operations

WILLIAM REEVE: Good track record as internet entrepreneur
WILLIAM REEVE: Good track record as internet entrepreneur

Louise McBride and nick Webb

The co-founder of the online movie-rental business Lovefilm, William Reeve, has stepped down as head of operations with Ireland's biggest bookmaker, Paddy Power.

Mr Reeve, who had been in the position for about a year, is moving to Britain to pursue another business opportunity, the Sunday Independent has learned.

Before he joined Paddy Power as head of operations, Mr Reeve had been a non-executive director with the bookmaker for about two years.

As operations director, Mr Reeve oversaw technology, risk and trading, human resources and corporate strategy with Paddy Power. His track record as an internet entrepreneur will no doubt be missed by the company – online sales delivered over three-quarters of the bookmaker's profits in the first six months of this year.

The Sunday Independent understands that Mr Reeve will not be pursuing a business opportunity in the gambling sector when he moves to Britain. His exit comes less than two years after the UK gambling firm, Betfair, poached top executive Breon Corcoran from Paddy Power.

Mr Corcoran, who became chief executive of Betfair in August 2012, was previously chief operating officer (COO) with Paddy Power. As COO, Mr Corcoran was responsible for Paddy Power's online businesses and Australian operations. Mr Corcoran had worked for Paddy Power for about 10 years before he left to join Betfair.

A spokesman for Paddy Power confirmed that Mr Reeve had advised the company of his plans to leave the bookmaker. "He wishes, as a next step, to pursue opportunities in the commercial area," said the spokesman. "Paddy Power is grateful to William for his contribution to the management of the infrastructure of the business and wishes him well in his future endeavours."

Mr Reeve is also a non-executive chairman of graze.com, which ships natural food products to online buyers. He is a serial entrepreneur and business investor who has built two successful businesses from scratch.

The first company Mr Reeve co-founded was Fletcher Research, which became one of Britain's top internet research firms before the international company, Forrester Research, bought it in 1999. The second business he co-founded, Lovefilm, was bought by Amazon in 2011.

Earlier this month, Lovefilm struck a deal to acquire the exclusive British broadcast rights to BBC America's hit drama series, 'Copper'. The drama, which is set in New York City in the 1860s, stars Irish actor Kevin Ryan, who has also starred in the TV series 'Raw' and the film 'Songs for Amy'.

About two months ago, Paddy Power beefed up its board by appointing Michael Cawley, the former deputy chief executive with Ryanair, as non-executive director.

Last August, the bookmaker reported an operating profit of €75.4m for the first six months of this year – a 12 per cent jump on the previous year. While profits from its online business have been strong, the bookmaker's retail business hasn't fared as well.

The operating profit from Paddy Power's online business in Australia increased by a quarter in the first six months of this year, while the profit for its other online divisions was up 17 per cent. Irish shops, however, saw a 16 per cent dip in operating profits in the first six months of the year "driven by unfavourable sports results, most particularly at Cheltenham", according to the latest company results.

Sunday Independent

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