5 Tech biopics we’d love to see

The key players in Tech – whether they’re investors or innovators – aren’t always covered by the silver screen. If we had our way, this wouldn’t be the case!

Whilst The Social Network allowed us a glimpse into the early days of Facebook, here are some big names in Tech we’d love to see biopics of.

Jack Ma

The co-founder and executive chairman of the Alibaba Group – as well as one of the richest people on the planet – would be a great topic for a film. Ma didn’t have it easy; it took him four attempts at entrance exams for college in China, he was rejected from Harvard Business School ten times and was unsuccessful for all 30 jobs he applied for. He became an English teacher, having learnt the language from a young age.

A trip to the US in 1995 when Ma was in his 30s introduced him to the internet, but he couldn’t find information on his native China. Along with his wife, Ma set up China Pages, creating websites for companies. Within three years, they made 5,000,000 Chinese Yuan ($800,000 at the time).

Alibaba was founded in 1999 as a China-based business-to-business marketplace in his apartment. From 2003, Taobao Marketplace, Alipay, Ali Mama and Lynx were founded by Ma to improve the global e-commerce system. Taobao gained interest from eBay for a potential purchase, but Ma refused and got a $1 billion investment from Jerry Yang.

Reports emerged in September 2014 that Alibaba was raising over $25 billion to go public on the New York Stock Exchange. They achieved it, making Alibaba one of the most valuable tech companies on the planet and raising the largest initial public offering in US financial history.

Alibaba’s net worth sits at $453.12 billion. Ma is stepping down from his role, but being worth almost $40 billion himself, he won’t struggle. His prolific rise to e-commerce stardom would be an amazing story to see – if not inspirational!

Sean Parker

Okay, Parker’s story has been briefly touched upon in The Social Network, but there’s a lot more to cover. Sean Parker has an eye for an up-and-coming site that will make waves within its industry – beginning with Napster.

Founded along with his friend Shawn Fanning who he met on the internet, they set up the file sharing service in 1999. Tens of millions of people were using the site within a year, but as previously unreleased tracks began to surface on Napster, lawsuits spelled the beginning of the end.

No time to worry as Parker launched Plaxo in 2002, an online address book and social networking service that later influenced the likes of LinkedIn. Parker’s involvement would only last two years, as he was ousted by the company’s financiers – allegedly, private investigators were involved and had been following him.

The same year, 2004, Parker came across a site called ‘the Facebook’. He got in touch with co-founders Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin, later joining the company in its infancy as president. Sean Parker’s involvement is believed to be paramount to the site’s success – he was reassuring to Zuckerberg and helped develop the photo-sharing function. Parker resigned after he was arrested on suspicion of drug possession.

Parker was shown Spotify in 2009, contacted founder Daniel Elk and a year later, Parker invested $15 million into the business. He was a part of Spotify’s U.S launch and announced the partnership between Spotify and Facebook, allowing users to post their playlists on their profiles.

Justin Timberlake took on Sean Parker’s role in The Social Network – are you down to play him again, JT?

Jonah Peretti

He may have become somewhat of a villain in recent months, but the brain of Jonah Peretti is one we’d like to pick apart. Not only is he Brooklyn Nine-Nine actress Chelsea Peretti’s older brother, but he has had a hand in some of the internet’s most viral creations.

Peretti got his first taste of viral stardom when he was procrastinating from writing his master’s thesis. He tried to customize a pair of Nike sneakers – many people chose to add their name, but Peretti went with ‘sweatshop’ instead. Nike rejected it, Peretti fought his corner but did not win. Instead, he forwarded on his email correspondence with Nike to some of his friends who passed it on – it concluded with Peretti on TV discussing the issue with Nike’s head of global PR.

In 2005, along with Kenneth Lerer, Andrew Breitbart and Arianna Huffington, Peretti founded The Huffington Post. Jonah and Kenneth came together in the beginning to start a company but didn’t know what they wanted to do. Kenneth met Arianna, realized how connected she was and knew she should be involved.

Andrew had worked for Arianna and understood internet news so he was the next piece of the puzzle. Breitbart’s time at HuffPost was short and sweet – the content produced was not what he had expected. As the site continued to grow, their topics included business, politics, technology and pop culture.

Just six years after it was founded, The Huffington Post was acquired by AOL for $315 million. Peretti took his money and left The Huffington Post. It allowed him to put his efforts into the site he founded in 2006, BuzzFeed. Peretti had been juggling the two so his break away from Huffington Post allowed BuzzFeed to grow.

What began as an experiment for viral pieces, began an all-encompassing, one stop shop for news, politics, quizzes and video. They tapped into fun pieces of content as well as hard-hitting journalism – although BuzzFeed isn’t always considered a credible source, people flock in their millions to its site.

Turning viral content into a business is something the world has to dig a little deeper into!

Susan Wojcicki

Arguably one of the most important women working within the internet realm, Google has a lot to thank Susan Wojcicki for.

Wojcicki attended Harvard University to study history and literature, assuming she’d follow in both of her parent’s footsteps to work in academia. However, an introductory computer-science course changed everything for Susan.

Her MBA was completed in 1998, and Susan bought a house in the Bay Area. To pay for the mortgage, she rented out her garage to two students named Larry Page and Sergey Brin who were working on their search-engine company, Google.

A year later, Susan would join Google as their 16th employee, becoming their first marketing manager. One of Susan’s early projects are the now beloved Google Doodles – at the time, they were used to commemorate holidays and special occasions, but now are much more frequent.

Those good ideas kept coming – in 2003, she had the idea that became AdSense. Three years later, she was working on Google Videos when she saw the rise of another video sharing platform, YouTube. She told Page and Brin to buy the platform, which they did for $1.65 billion. Today, YouTube is worth around ten times that.

In 2014, Susan became CEO of Google, replacing Google’s ninth employee, Salar Kamangar. The following year, Time Magazine named her as one of 100 most influential people of the year. They later described her as the most powerful woman on the internet.

Under her leadership, YouTube has grown significantly – boasting 1.9 billion logged-in users a month and one billion hours of content were being watched a day.

Susan has been an advocate in increasing the number of women working in tech as well as the expansion of paid family leave. Her star shining in a male-driven arena needs to be a blockbuster film!

Jeffrey Skoll

Creating a biopic on Skoll makes sense – as he could be the executive producer of the film. Where we’d like to delve into is his part in the eBay success story.

Skoll met Pierre Omidyar, eBay’s founder, in 1996 and became the company’s first full-time employee and their president. The company was already profitable, but it was Skoll’s business plan that helped push boundaries at eBay to become a great success. He remained president until Meg Whitman took over in 1998, when Skoll became vice president, Strategic Planning and Analysis.

Skoll was once eBay’s second largest shareholder, after Pierre Omidyar, and cashing out some of his stock brought him $2 billion. Not bad, considering both became millionaires when eBay went public in 1998.

Participant Media was founded by Skoll in 2004 in order to create entertainment that would inspire social change. The company has produced a number of incredibly successful movies, and Skoll has been the executive producer on a number of them.

Skoll was executive producer on the documentary An Inconvenient Truth, covering the climate change as told by Al Gore. It has become one of the highest grossing documentaries in the States, taking in $24 million. He had the same role for 2012’s Lincoln, which amassed 131 award nominations, winning 41 – it received the most Academy Award nominations for any film released in 2012, with 12.

Spotlight was also produced by Participant Media. The film went on to win the Academy Award for Best Picture and was widely regarded as one of the best films of 2015.

His shift from a major e-commerce website into a seriously successful film production company would tell an awesome story.

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