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Our Forbes 'fab four' leading the world for 2013


Patrick Collison

Patrick Collison

John Collison

John Collison

James Whelton

James Whelton

Jonathan Cloonan

Jonathan Cloonan


THEY are the four young Irishmen carrying the torch of hope for our economic future.

Leading US business magazine 'Forbes' has named them among its "30 under 30" to watch in 2013.

This year's list includes Limerick entrepreneurs Patrick and John Collison, as well as computer programmer James Whelton and advertising guru Jonathan Cloonan.

The annual roll-call from 'Forbes' highlights some of the brightest young stars across a range of disciplines, from technology to the arts.

The magazine's seal of approval is one of the most-sought-after in business, especially in the United States.

The list, which began last year, claims to highlight the "young disruptors, innovators and entrepreneurs" that are changing the world. It includes some of the hottest business people in the world, including Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg.

"In sum, they represent the entrepreneurial, creative and intellectual best of their generation," 'Forbes' claimed.

The Collisons, who were named for their work in the technology sector, are perhaps the best-known young Irish entrepreneurs operating at the moment.

Patrick (24) hit the headlines here in 2005 when he won the Young Scientist Exhibition at the age of 16.

Now based in Silicon Valley, he went on to set up a software company with his brother John (22), which eventually became Auctomatic.

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They sold that business in 2008 for an estimated €3m and then set up their current venture, Stripe, soon after.

The online payments company has attracted some of the highest-profile investors in the tech world since it was founded, including Peter Thiel and Sequoia Capital.

Mr Thiel made hundreds of millions of dollars as a founder of PayPal and now puts money into internet-based companies. He was one of the first investors to back Mr Zuckerberg in the early days of Facebook.

Sequoia, meanwhile, is another high-profile investor that is known for only backing companies that can grow rapidly. It too made a fortune from investing in Facebook.

Neither Patrick nor John Collison have ever revealed their valuation of Stripe, but industry analysts say it is worth north of $500m (€375m) and perhaps as much as $1bn.

James Whelton (20) is another "social entrepreneur" who set up CoderDojo a year ago aimed at getting more school children to learn how to programme and write computer code.

Today, he and his co-founder, Bill Liao, now head a group that runs 130 "dojos" across 22 countries, with 10,000 kids learning to code for free each week.

Jonathan Cloonan (27) was named for his efforts in marketing and advertising. Based in Singapore, the product of Belvedere College now brokers multi-million-dollar TV deals in Asia and the Pacific region for GroupM, which is part of the biggest advertising group in the world -- WPP. Last night he tweeted that he was "massively honoured" to have been named on the 'Forbes' list.

Mr Whelton, meanwhile, took a more deadpan line, writing that he "knew watching 'Mean Girls' would pay off one day".

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