What is the best age to start a global tech business?

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Collating data from the largest tech companies by revenue according to the Fortune Global 500 (2020 list), Bruntwood SciTech has calculated the average age of tech company founders, as of when they first launched their business.

Our analysis finds the optimal age to start a successful tech business is 32 years old and the best month to get started in the sector is February.

32 is the optimal age – but tech entrepreneurs discover business behemoths at various life stages

The only tech entrepreneur in the list who hits the ‘golden age’ is Leonard Bosack of Cisco, and the only group of tech founders who come closest to collectively hitting an average of 32 years-old is Sony (31.5 years).

The range between oldest and youngest tech entrepreneurs is also noteworthy.

Spanning 43 years, the youngest tech titan in the Fortune Global 500 list was Michael S. Dell of Dell (now ‘Dell Technologies’), who was aged just 18 when he studied at University of Texas as a pre-med. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Charles Ranlett Flint was 61 years old when he launched IBM (then the ‘Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company’).

Largest technology companies by revenue: ordered by youngest to oldest founders

Company Average age of founders
Dell 18
Facebook 19.8
Microsoft 20.5
Foxconn 23
Panasonic 23
Google/Alphabet 25
Hewlett-Packard 25.5
Tencent 27.3
Samsung 28
Apple Inc 29
Cisco 30.5
Sony 31.5
Hitachi 36
Intel 39.5
Lenovo 40
Huawei 42
LG 50
IBM 61

Younger tech gurus are also earning the most revenue

Our analysis of the Forbes 500 list shows that the average age of the top 5 tech company founder is just 25 years, seven years younger than the average age across all 18 companies.

Of the top 5, Microsoft has the youngest founding members (20.5 years) while the oldest top-revenue ages are at Apple Inc (29 years).

Top 5 largest technology companies by revenue: ordered by Forbes ranking

Forbes ranking Company Avg age
1 Apple Inc 29
2 Samsung 28
3 Foxconn 23
4 Google/Alphabet 25
5 Microsoft 20.5

Single entrepreneurs typically start their tech businesses later in life, with an average starting age of 36 vs 28 years for multiple entrepreneurs.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the tech company with the youngest multiple founders is Facebook. The company’s five founders (Mark Zuckerberg, Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes) accrued an average age of 20 years. Zuckerberg and Moskovitz, aged 19 at launch, were the youngest of the five when Facebook was founded.

The tech company with the oldest multiple founders is Intel. Gordon E. Moore and Robert Noyce were 39 and 40 years old, respectively, at the time of launch.

Largest technology companies by revenue with one founding member: ordered by youngest to oldest founders

Single founder Avg age
Dell (pre-merger) 18
Foxconn 23
Panasonic 23
Samsung 28
Hitachi 36
Lenovo 40
Huawei 42
LG 50
IBM 61

Largest technology companies by revenue with 2+ founding members: ordered by youngest to oldest founders

2+ founders Avg age
Facebook 19.8
Microsoft 20.5
Google/Alphabet 25
Hewlett-Packard 25.5
Tencent 27.3
Apple Inc 29
Cisco 30.5
Sony 31.5
Intel 39.5

 

Older tech founders thrive in the UK

While the Fortune Global 500 is focussed primarily around those in their early 30s/late 20s, the UK’s biggest tech companies (according to the Sunday Times Sage Tech Track 100) are slightly older.

Upon reviewing the top 50 UK tech businesses, we discovered the best age to start a tech business in the UK is 35 years old. The average ages of the founders of Fleetondemand (a corporate mobility platform, #45) and Whalar (marketing technology brand, #8) were the two companies which were founded closest to this optimal age.

Revolut, #1 on our list and the company whose co-founder has just become the UK’s first tech start-up billionaire, isn’t far off; the average age of their two co-founders comes in at 32 years.

Younger business founders do still have a strong footing at the top of the list, however. 40% of the top 10 UK tech businesses were founded by under 30s (Tessian #3, Pollen #4, Bark.com #6 and Lendable #10).

The youngest UK tech founders, Christian Owens and Harrison Rose of Paddle, were both just 18 at the time of founding their e-commerce retail company, but just fall short of the top 10, coming in at #12 on the Sunday Times list.

Sunday Times ranking Company Avg age
1 Revolut 32
2 n/a n/a
3 Tessian 24
4 Pollen 23
5 VoCoVo 31
6 Bark.com 28.5
7 Elvie 37.5
8 Whalar 34.5
9 Elder 39.5
10 Lendable 24.75

Again, age is but a number in the tech industry. That’s what Simon Bransfield-Garth has proven at least. Aged 52 years old when he founded green tech business Azuri Technologies, Simon is the oldest UK tech company founder in our review***.

The best date to start a tech business is 1st February

Analysing the most common day and month that the tech companies in our list launched, we found that the best date to start a tech business is 1st February.

The only company in the list who shares this exact start date is Dell, who launched on 1st February 1984 (incidentally, 1984 is also the most common starting year, according to the global tech companies we analysed).

Other tech conglomerates on our list who started in the month of February include Facebook (4th February 2004) and Foxconn (20th February 1974). March, April, September and November tied for 2nd place in terms of the most common month to start a tech business.

According to our data, the worst month to start a tech business is August; none of the top 18 companies launched in that month but at least one business was started in every other month.

26th January is the ‘golden birthday’ for upcoming tech leaders

Individually viewing the most common day and month of the tech entrepreneurs’ birthdays in our list, the ‘golden birthday’ for upcoming tech leaders is 26th January. Of all the entrepreneurs we analysed, Akio Morita (co-founder of Sony) is the only one to share that birthday.

May and October are also common tech leader birthdays, while June and July are the least common birthday months.

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