History

After reading an e-book called ‘GoogleCash’, Neil Hutchinson founds TrafficBroker, a digital marketing agency specialising in sending traffic to clients via Google AdWords.

TrafficBroker becomes a full-service agency and grows organically to over £20m in revenues. We achieve this scale without raising any external capital which enables us to diversify our activities in later years.

This year marks the beginning of a new strategy – leveraging our retained capital plus technology and marketing expertise to create, acquire and invest in great companies.

Future

Our first acquisition is uSwitch, the UK’s leading energy comparison website.

We also launch InvisibleHand, a real-time price comparison tool.

We create a holding company structure with Forward Internet Group as the parent.

TrafficBroker becomes Forward3D and ...

... we embark on our quest to give back by launching the Forward Foundation, focused on finding new ways to transform young lives.

Top10 is acquired and merged with uSwitch to diversify the brand and become the UK’s leading home services (energy, broadband, phone) price comparison website.

We launch Forward Investment Partners to take venture capital minority stakes in exciting TMT companies including Unbound, Somo and Hubbub.

We acquire Factory Media, Europe’s largest action sports publisher, and support the management team to innovate online.

Forward Investment Partners reaches 12 investments with the 2012 portfolio including Zopa, Hailo and AppearHere.

Forward Labs, our start-up foundry launches.

Forward Private Equity is formally launched to crystalise our intention to continue acquiring great brands and supporting management to accelerate growth.

Forward Labs launches Makers Academy, a computer programming school.

Forward sells InvisibleHand to Skimlinks.

Forward sells a majority stake in uSwitch to Lloyds Development Capital.

Forward Investment Partners and Forward Labs merge to become Forward Partners.

People

Neil Hutchinson
Neil Hutchinson
Founder, Forward Internet Group


In 2004 Neil launched TrafficBroker, a digital marketing agency, and helped guide it to become one of the largest Google advertisers in the UK. He then led its evolution into a holding company, Forward Internet Group; creating, acquiring and investing in a diversified portfolio of assets. He currently helps support and remains the principal investor in Forward Private Equity and Forward Partners.

Rob Murphy
Rob Murphy
Chief Financial Officer

Rob has worked for over 25 years with fast growing media and technology companies. Rob is a Chartered Accountant and, before Forward, worked for over ten years in video games where his experience included public reporting, fundraising and acquisitions. Rob joined Forward in 2008 to help support the group's growth and commercial development.


Gavin Owston
Gavin Owston
Director

Gavin is responsible for the investment activities at Forward Private Equity. He also works actively with a number of portfolio companies helping them strategically and financially. Gavin joined us in January 2014 and prior to that worked in the investment banking industry, originating and executing mergers & acquisitions and equity & debt financings for clients in the telecom, media and technology (TMT) sectors. He led the TMT sector at RBS and prior to that at ABN AMRO, having spent the early part of his career in corporate finance at Bankers Trust and Baring Brothers.

Mark Philips
Mark Philips
Non-Executive Director

Mark was made a partner in the Corporate Practice at Harbottle & Lewis in 1990. He's also joint head of their eCommerce and Technology Group and is consistently recognised as a leader in the fields of interactive entertainment, new media and publishing. Mark's background in legal matters, as well as general business acumen, is proving vital as the company expands its operations.

Graham Coxell
Graham Coxell
Non-Executive Director

Graham built his career within the software and outsourcing sectors initially operating in financial services for 13 years. As Chief Executive of Marlborough Stirling he oversaw turnover growth of £17m to £120m and a successful £250m stock market floatation in 2001 which made him the youngest CEO of a FTSE 250 company. Graham subsequently became MD of Capita's Wealth & Distribution Outsourcing Division, making a number of acquisitions within the financial services software sectors.

Mark Opzoomer
Mark Opzoomer
Board Advisor

Mark has 25 years of corporate operating and deal-making experience. He was the Managing Director and Regional Vice-President of Yahoo! Europe, Commercial and Finance Director of Sega Europe Ltd and is non-executive director on the Boards of several companies including Newbay Software Limited, WRI Holdings Limited, MIVA Inc. and Blinkx PLC.

Nic Brisbourne
Nic Brisbourne
Managing Partner: Forward Partners

Nic has 13 years experience in the venture capital industry and prior to joining Forward was a Partner at leading venture capital firm DFJ Esprit. He has worked and invested in London and Silicon Valley, leading over 25 investments and enjoying a number of successful exits including buy.at (acquired by AOL for $125m) and Zeus Technology (acquired by Riverbed for $140m). Nic also authors Europe's most popular VC blog: The Equity Kicker.

David Rigby
David Rigby
Chairman of uSwitch and Factory Media

David works as an active member of each Board providing support and assistance to the businesses in the areas of organisational structure, financial management and operational management. David spent 16 years at Capita where he held a variety of Chief Executive roles across a number of businesses and sectors before joining Capita's Executive Board in 2001 as the Managing Director of one of the Group's major operating divisions. He has extensive experience of working with businesses at all stages of their development, including significant acquisitions and business integration work.

Frank Herman
Frank Herman
Honorary Director

The late Frank Herman, hailed as the 'first suit in the gaming industry', co-founded the computer game publishing company Mastertronic in 1983. He later successfully negotiated a merger with Branson's Virgin Interactive and then went on to serve as Managing Director for Sega Europe. We all count ourselves as exceptionally fortunate to have benefited from 'Uncle' Frank's infinite wisdom and kindness. His presence is sorely missed.