Google-aires Larry Page & Sergey Brin are so yesterday. Its time to meet the newest billionaires – Anurag Dikshit and his college pal Vikrant Bhargava and their business partner, porn princess, Ruth Parasol. They are the trio behind PartyGaming, an online poker/gambling company based in Gibraltar that is all set to go public in London with a valuation estimated at around $10 billion. Given the growing popularity of online poker and online gambling, PartyGaming which operates popular site, PartyPoker is going to be one of the hottest initial public offerings of the year.
Here is the back story. In 1998, Parasol, a lawyer by training, decided that she had had enough on online porn, sold her businesses and decided to expand into more respectable business of online gambling. Through friends she got in touch with IIT computer engineering student, Anurag Dikshit (who will soon be changing his name to BigShit) and he helped hack together the back end for the site. Dikshit, brought in his college pal, Bhargava as a marketing honcho. If the offering goes according to plan, Anurag, who is now 33, and owns 42% of the site, will be worth roughly $4 billion. Ruth & her husband will be worth closer to that around as well, since they each own 20% of the company. Bhargava, poor guy owns only 15% of the company. The company will sell roughly 23% of its holdings, and about 5.6% of its holdings will be sold and the proceeds expected to be around $560 million will go into an employee trust. It has 1100 employees, with 925 in India.
Mr Bhargava, who has a stake of almost 15%, hints at the way in which the ride has left them breathless. “When we left university in 1994 – and you have to remember that the Indian Institute of Technology was one of the best schools in all of India – quite a lot of people went off to the US and got involved with dotcoms,” he says. “So many people wanted to do something big, but I don’t think we ever thought it would be this big. But the motivation was not money. We have done well at something we enjoy doing.”
And just when you think the story could not get any better: the company has a call center in Hyderabad in India, has operations in London, is headquartered in Gibraltar and is totally wired up, of course by broadband. “By then, this borderless company plans to be conquering new territories. A wired-up China, home of the world’s most enthusiastic gamblers, is the view on the horizon,” adds The Guardian. “Billionaire status has rarely been achieved so young or so quickly,” writes The Guardian. Now in the most recent quarter the company was bringing in $1.4 million in pre-tax profits per day, or about $910 a minute.