Martha Lane Fox: 'I will never launch another start-up'

Speaking at technology conference Le Web, Lastminute.com co-founder and boss of karaoke chain Lucky Voice Martha Lane Fox announced that she's hanging up her start-up boots.

by Rebecca Burn-Callander
Last Updated: 23 Mar 2016

Serial entrepreneur Martha Lane Fox has launched her last business, she revealed today. Speaking at the Le Web technology conference in London today, the Lastminute.com co-founder stated that while she remains active on the start-up scene, and intends to keep on innovating with her current business, karaoke chain Lucky Voice, she would not be starting any more businesses from scratch: 'I will never launch another start-up,' she declared.

Of course, Lane Fox has already earned her entrepreneurial stripes. She founded Lastminute.com with Brent Hoberman way back in 1998, selling it for £577m in 2005. Speaking of her longevity on the tech scene, Lane Fox said: 'Someone recently referred to Lastminute.com as a dotcom dinosaur. I take that as a compliment!' She made £13m from the Lastminute.com deal and, in late 2005, launched Lucky Voice in Soho. The karaoke concept now has seven bars across the UK.

But Lane Fox wasn't wearing her 'entrepreneur' hat at Le Web today. She took to the stage to talk about her role as government's 'digital inclusion champion'. She has been working alongside the Coalition, and previously the Labour government, to increase the uptake of technology amongst disadvantaged communities, and roll out a new government portal, which will allow people to access services - like calculating their statutary maternity pay or collecting their benefits - over the web.

Lane Fox has thrown her all at the project. On her watch, the number of people in the UK without access to technology has fallen from 10.5 million to eight million - although Lane Fox admits the machinery that measures this data still needs work.

The government may be her paymaster, but Lane Fox has her own reasons for wanting to help people who are alienated from technology. 'I am extraordinarily lucky, despite the stick,' she says, referring to the cane she always carries. 'Technology helped me to survive after my accident. It helped me to rebuild my life and stay in touch. When I was asked to help disadvanted communities using technology, I was galvanised to do it.'

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