Four years after founding Zeus, an internet software company, Adam Twiss is on the brink of becoming a multimillionaire. If a finance deal with a US venture capital house goes through, the 23 year old Cambridge graduate and his co-founder, Damien Reeves, could each be worth around £8 million.
Zeus licenses a web server software, developed by Twiss, that can process two billion internet requests a day, double that of its nearest rival (from IBM). Snapped up by large corporations such as Cable & Wireless and Sony, it helps them to handle large volumes of web transactions more easily and reduces the risk of system breakdowns and delays. They download the software via the internet and pay a one-off fee. The 10-strong team at Zeus makes money from support and service agreements.
Twiss initially failed to appreciate the software's potential. As students, he and Reeves had been running a general interest web site from their rooms. Their web server was slow and noisy, so Twiss decided to design his own software. After posting it free on the internet, he received e-mails from many blue-chip companies. Reeves and Twiss formed Zeus and subsequently went into partnership with computer manufacturers including Silicon Graphics.
Huge demand has recently prompted Zeus to take on about two new employees a month, says Twiss.