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[flagged] 'I stole £30,000 from my mum to make millions' (bbc.co.uk)
29 points by gadders 5 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 46 comments

Somehow, I don't think this is a good thing to be promoting. How many times do people make risks like this and fail? If I stole a million dollars from a family member and spent it on lottery tickets and won would that make me right? It is also pretty disrespectful to your parent to not even ask them for the money first.

I think whoever you stole the money from might have a strong case of owning the ticket and taking the entire lot.

Maybe I am getting old, because I keep seeing articles written glorifying doing bad things. Such as this and sneaking into paid venues -- because "mhy fun" and "stick it to the man" without realizing that people following even the most simple of the rules is what makes any society work.

>people following even the most simple of the rules is what makes any society work.

And some people breaking those rules is what makes society tolerable.

Where is the line?

Breaking into concerts?

Breaking into homes?



Assassinating politicians?

Overthrowing elected governments?

People breaking rules is what makes society collapse.

There's no hard line. All of those things, at different times, can be hugely beneficial and take society forward.

Many revolutions involved assault and murder (from the French Revolution to Cromwell).

May 68 was all about "overthrowing elected governments".

In the punk era "breaking into concerts" was routine -- and a way for poorer kids to afford seeing some bands they liked.

(There's a very nice scene in Cinema Paradiso for how kids/teenagers would also break/sneak/into cinemas to watch the film free -- or watch more adult films, a huge part of the old Italian culture, also common in other European countries).

So what I hear is if you are poor, then it is okay?

Could the poor kids not have mowed lawns, or done handy work around where they live to be able to save up money to buy the ticket properly?

But even so, breaking laws and rules simply for enjoyment is not the path to sustained enjoyment. The path to sustained enjoyment is discipline and focus, not instant gratification of breaking the law, which in the long run will probably just make it even harder for said person to experience real enjoyment.

I don't buy your argument that because your life is shitty you can do shitty things.

>Could the poor kids not have mowed lawns, or done handy work around where they live to be able to save up money to buy the ticket properly?

The rich kids didn't have to do those things, so why should they?

That was intended as a lesson in civility, but it's actually a lesson is servility and injustice. Those were just as good kids as any other, they just happened to have born into the "wrong" (ie poor) parents.

Hopefully at some point in a future society we would see the less access by those poor kids the same way we see segregation today, and not just ask "why couldn't they mowe lawns" to get the same thing the rich kids got doing nothing.

(Though the real answer is that those poor kids in 40s-50s Italy probably already worked much harder than "mowing lawns", and they still had their priorities, like helping feed their families.

(Not to mention it was deemed OK by the society and seen with understanding, they weren't stuck-up on commercialization like other cultures).

I think it's pretty reasonable to say kids sneaking into concerts is on the slap on the hand, "yep yep I tried that when I was a kid, wink wink" side of the line, and stealing lots of money from a parent is on the not really acceptable, you ain't talking to your family on pleasant terms again for a _very_ long time side of the line. Neither one is murder and it ain't a slippery slope from those to society coming apart at the seams (I mean, unless you're very socially conservative, then fair enough I guess)

That has a nice ring, but I simply can't agree. Maybe you can change my mind. Please elaborate...

It's thrilling content for a lot of us who would never consider doing anything like this.

It reads as a story where you want to hear 'what happened next?'.

Those who take inspiration from it we need to worry about wether or not the story is written.

We reading this kind of news we need to be concerned about survivourship bias. How many people did the same and lost everything? That people don't appear on BBC but they are far more than the success examples. https://xkcd.com/1827/

At least it emphasizes how important capital is. Even relatively small amounts make the difference. I read this, that you should provide plenty of funding to your kids early. He could have taken it from his official college savings account for example.

tells a lot about society that people are so proud on beeing an ahole and having success with it.

Tells a lot about me that I actually clicked through to the article and skimmed it.

So... he ordered a T1/T3 line? In 1997? That would have had a lead time of weeks? Surely his rich mother (with a 5-figure credit card limit) chose to fund her son's business, rather than disputing a ridiculous charge & kicking the little bastard into next week.

I too co-founded my last business with £30,000, but - funny story - we just asked our family & friends and they lent it to us. OK, not a funny story, but it's the only story.

If everyone who wanted to start a business in the UK could've accessed £30,000 the UK would be a lot better off right now :/

That sounds a lot like the wrong kind of model to follow.

Gambling 30K he stole (from his mom!), paying stars to entertain his girlfriend... I wouldn't want to be near that person.

Good on him for being successful he might be rich but he sounds morally bankrupt.

We live in a world were gamblers dominate. Maybe it has to do with the intrinsic ponzi-logic of debt-money. Nearly nothing else than stealing or gambling at crazy risk or beeing the monopolist by birth in the first place leads to success, society pays the bill.

You forgot directly doing everyone over with externalities and being unethical corporate or political backstabber.

This kid is going to Billy McFarland some people.

Man those documentaries were crazy. I could almost have believed he'd just gotten over his head (in a too full of himself but not actively malicious way) until the end where he's pulling the same idiotic ticket scam from Magnesis while he was awaiting trial for Fyre Fest!

If someone told me this story in real life, I'd find it hard to believe. On a major news outlet, it feels like PR fluff based on a huge exaggeration. Yet another founder myth.

I used to work for Andrew and, although the story of the £30k wasn't common knowledge as such, we all knew the fact that he (and his friend Alex) started the company while at school and then Andrew made a great success of it.

The parties were real; I went to a few of them.

People still money off of their parents like every day.

It's so unbelievable that someone did it to start a business?

It doesn't matter how much money you made. This is not much less stupid than the people that ran a gas station in Northern Ontario that I financed. They stole the till money (100's of thousands) to go gambling in the casino with the intention to put back the original money they stole once they had won.

Of course it did not work out that way. Gas station bankrupt, everybody out of a job. If one of my kids stole 30K from me I'd be more than happy to report them, wondering along the line where I'd failed in bringing them up to think that this would be an ok thing to do. Even if they would make millions.

I wrote about this here:


>It doesn't matter how much money you made.

Actually it very much does. Life is all about outcomes.

Depending on your philosophical outlook.

> All of the web-hosting companies in the UK at the time were pitched at much bigger companies

Not true - I was working at one in 1996 (predating Fasthosts) that was explicitly pitching at individuals and small businesses. IIRC, Claranet was also doing the same at about the same time (late 1996).

And what happened? Was it successful?

Mildly? It got sold for GBP10M in 1999 but I had been out of it for about a year by that point (and I didn't have any equity anyway.)

What is it about these business bio's? I can't think of any other format where you could sell, stealing £30k from your Mother as almost a good thing.

I get that they want to get 'inside the mind' of successful entrepreneurs, but really I don't expect journalists to be this overtly, sickeningly fawning. Based on his opening business gambit I wouldn't be surprised if this guy is embroiled in some scandal, and currently the BBC is just bigging him up.

Edit: Spelling

Statistically you'd think entrepreneurs who steal money from mum to "make millions" have similar or worse success rates than those who borrow it from VCs who have approved their business plan. That's a lot of unhappy families...

Yes, this is just seems like survivorship bias.

Not a good way to start a business.

Survivorship bias is kind of missing the point, you could make that point about a lot a business leaders.

My point was more, should we be holding up this person as an example to emulate, as the article seems to be doing?

Out of interest, what kind of income/credit history do you need for a(t least a) £30k credit limit?

It was much easier to get large credit facilities in those days, or indeed prior to the financial crisis (which was really a credit/debt crisis).

Round about the same time, my father had a credit limit of around £50k, across 3 different cards. He was a contractor earning around £100k/year, and given he was terrible with managing money, likely didn't have a great credit history.

Now in 2019 I earn around £100-150k a year, and my credit limit across 2 cards is £10k, with an immaculate credit history. I'm sure my card providers would increase it if I asked, but certainly not to £50k or even £30k.

I had hosting with fasthosts.

I forgot my password at some point and going through the forgotten password flow ended with them emailing me my plaintext password...

This was years ago, hopfully they've improved by now!

£30,000 in unexpected credit card debt is the sort of story which ends with somebody committing suicide. But sure it's okay in this case because he did well. If the business had failed, which one could argue was the most likely outcome for a couple of teenagers hosting websites from their bedroom, the headline could read very differently.

See, you too can make it big as long as your parents can float you 30 grand!

30 grand is not that difficult to come for a middle class person [1]. Someone working a normal job with some sacrifices could save those money in like 5 years. Heck, people spend as much on cars. In fact, if you're so certain you will "make it big", take a 30 grand loan.

Still, few if any of them create a 50 million dollar business (or even an 1 million dollar one).

So there's that.

You think the only thing between you and "making it big" is 30 grand?

(1) (well, what americans call middle class, not what the British bizarrely call middle class, which means upper class very rich just no royalty)

Yeah, not certain why this article is relevant enough for the HN front page.

I just comment with "Motherfucker Jones" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uuUR0LksFaE

Maybe the guy can be chided for being stupid or for gambling. But for being morally bankrupt? I'm not sure about that one.

Here's a hypothetical: suppose you wake up tomorrow as a teenager in 1997, and have the ability to invest $30,000 in Google. Of course, you don't have the money for it, and your parents refuse to believe you. Would you steal it from your parents anyway, knowing that once you've made your money back, they will be taken care of? I would do it in a heartbeat.

Thing is, as a teenager you're way more likely to take risks than when you're older, probably because you don't perceive the probability and consequences in the same way.

So whether you can describe this as "morally bankrupt" really needs to be taken in the context of his age at the time.

Insert Chav/Good Guy meme pic here, you can replace the whole article with it.

While on the outset it seems to promote an anti-pattern, it could be taken positively and as good advice to just double down and eat some risk once a good opportunity is spotted. As for the particular web hosting business, I think a lot of companies like this that were bought out in the early phases of the dotcom boom may not have been worth the price. If I had to guess, the acquirer was probably driven by a lack of long term understanding and hype.

"it could be taken positively and as good advice to just double down and eat some risk once a good opportunity is spotted"

How? His mum ate the risk, not him.

I'd happily double down with your credit card, doesn't make me a visionary though.

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