South African millionaire Mark Shuttleworth made his way to space in 2002 on his own dime, leaving his private jet and millions of dollars safely back on earth while spending 10 days in orbit.
The 42-year-old entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist has been an excellent ambassador for his country.
Thanks to his efforts to increase access and quality of education, he continues to nurture an interest in science and technology among young Africans throughout the continent, and especially in his native South Africa.
These are 12 things that you probably didn’t know about South African millionaire, Mark Shuttleworth.
In 1999, in his final year of study, South African entrepreneur Shuttleworth founded an internet consulting firm which he named Thawte. He made over $575 million by selling that firm to VeriSign, and with the money he started another firm which provided services and training to tech startup companies.
Having created Thawte when he was only 22 from his garage in Cape Town, the firm went on to produce the first-ever full-security encrypted e-commerce web server that was commercially available outside of the United States, before he sold the company.
With his new found wealth, the entrepreneur showed his philanthropic side, and specifically his passion for improving education in South Africa. He has invested millions in education, using his non-profit organisation called the Shuttleworth Foundation to improve access to and quality of education in his homeland.
In 2002, Shuttleworth became the first African in space and only the second private citizen to self-fund a space-trip. He paid $20 million and trained for a year, with much of that time spent in Russia, before joining the Soyuz TM-34 crew that visited the International Space Station.
According to the Sunday Times Rich list from 2015, Mark Shuttleworth has amassed personal wealth estimated at $211 million (R2,9 billion), making him a billionaire in South African rand terms, and a very wealthy dollar millionaire.
In 2004 Shuttleworth founded the Ubuntu project, which produces top-quality operating systems supported by the latest software, freely available across the globe for use on laptops and desktop computers.
Shuttleworth holds two passports; one South African and the other British, allowing him to travel with ease and live in Great Britain. At the moment, he lives on the Isle of Man, a self-governing British Crown dependency in the Irish Sea between England and Ireland.
Shuttleworth completed a Bachelor of Business Science degree in Finance and Information Systems at the University of Cape Town before going on to launch his first company.
The South African businessman owns a private jet, as certain millionaires do. The Bombardier Global Express is owned through his HBD Venture Capital company, and has a dragon emblazoned on the side of the plane which Shuttleworth calls Norman, the HBD Venture Capital mascot.
When Shuttleworth moved approximately $177 million in capital from South Africa to the Isle of Man, the South African Reserve Bank decided that a $17.7 million levy would need to be paid in order to release the businessman’s assets. Shuttleworth appealed, and won a legal battle against the Reserve Bank, which was ordered by the supreme court of appeal to repay the levy amount with interest.
The legal battle did not end there, however, as the Constitutional Court overturned the supreme court of appeal decision, as they found that the dominant purpose of exit charge was not to raise revenue‚ but to regulate conduct. This meant that the South African Reserve Bank did not have to repay Shuttleworth the levy.
The billionaire entrepreneur and investor always showed signs of his leadership capabilities, and during his school days he was head boy (head prefect) at both Western Province Preparatory School in 1986), and Bishops/Diocesan College in 1991.