Andrew Rickman had a spectacular success with Bookham Technology, inventing a technology for optical chips and starting a company to sell them which went public in 2000 at a valuation of $6.8 billion propelling it into the FTSE100.
“I didn’t start out as particularly interested in electronics,” recalls Rickman, ” I bought transistors and didn’t have much success with them. I bought a kit amplifier from Sinclair, and it kept blowing up, and I wrote back to Clive Sinclair and asked him for new components for it. He wrote back to me – it was either him or he had a machine which managed to forge his signature – but he wrote back to me personally when I was a teenager.”
“When I was at school I started a mail order firm, and I remember borrowing £50 off a chap at school, and buying a motor bike, and about two weeks later selling it for £200. I was always looking for a way to spin a dime.”
“I took jobs in my holidays in engineering companies. The internal combustion engine had a fascination for me. When I left school I got a job working in a company that built racing cars. I built one and took it home – a bit like that Johnny Cash record where he takes it home in his lunch box.”
“After I left University I went abroad and worked on a sheep farm in New Zealand.”
“To get away,” he replied.
Briefly a paper billionaire at the IPO, Rickman raised £50 million in a subsequent share sale.
Quite enough to get away.