The 27-year-old founder of one of Britain’s fastest-growing start-ups could be worth as much as £2bn after his two-year-old company secured a valuation of $7.8bn (£5.6bn).
Johnny Boufarhat, an Australian born entrepreneur who founded virtual events company Hopin in 2019, became Britain’s youngest self-made billionaire earlier this year after his start-up hit a valuation of $5.65bn in March.
In a new funding round announced on Thursday, Hopin said it had raised a further $450m from investors, bringing its total raised to over $1bn. Its service allows companies to host virtual events, conferences and panels, with audience members able to network or ask questions to speakers.
Mr Boufarhat, who moved to the UK to study engineering at the University of Manchester, founded Hopin just over two years ago. The company works almost entirely remotely, with no physical offices or headquarters. After schooling in Dubai attending university at Manchester, Mr Boufarhat fell ill while preparing for a graduate job at PwC.
Bedridden, he took to coding a videoconferencing app. After being diagnosed with an autoimmune condition and regaining his health, Mr Boufarhat went on the hunt for investors and launched Hopin in January 2019.
Hopin became a breakout star of the pandemic as companies were forced to shelve physical events and trade shows and instead look for virtual solutions.
The company has grown to more than 800 staff in 47 countries and has been used by more than 100,000 organisations in its short life.
According to company filings, Mr Boufarhat owned around 41pc of Hopin shares as of June 4. Earlier this year, Hopin was valued at $5.65bn, making Mr Boufarhat’s stake worth $2.3bn.
At its current valuation, his stake could be worth even more. Based on his current holding, Mr Boufarhat’s stake would be worth in excess of $3.1bn (£2.2bn). The funding may have diluted his stake slightly. Hopin did not respond to requests for comment about Mr Boufarhat’s stake.
Born in Australia in 1994 to a Lebanese father and Syrian-American mother, Mr Boufarhat founded Hopin aged 24. The company only had eight employees at the start of 2020, but as the pandemic struck it attracted huge interest.
Hopin said its annual recurring revenues were at around $100m, up from $20m last November.
There have been questions over whether the boom in virtual events can continue, with Hopin saying it is also investing in "hybrid" events consisting of an in-person and online element.
Mr Boufarhat said: "Hopin plans to be wherever important conversations and connections happen."
The company has secured backing from some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley. Investors include Andreessen Horowitz, an early backer of Facebook, Salesforce, Slack, LinkedIn and private equity giant Tiger Global.