Collating data from the largest tech companies by revenue according to the Fortune Global 500 (2020 list), Bruntwood SciTech has calculated the average age of tech company founders, as of when they first launched their business*.
Our analysis finds the optimal age to start a successful tech business is 32 years old** and the best month to get started in the sector is February.
32 is the optimal age – but tech entrepreneurs discover business behemoths at various life stages.
The only tech entrepreneur in the list who hits the ‘golden age’ is Leonard Bosack of Cisco, and the only group of tech founders who come closest to collectively hitting an average of 32 years-old is Sony (31.5 years).
The range between oldest and youngest tech entrepreneurs is also noteworthy.
Spanning 43 years, the youngest tech titan in the Fortune Global 500 list was Michael S. Dell of Dell (now ‘Dell Technologies’), who was aged just 18 when he studied at University of Texas as a pre-med. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Charles Ranlett Flint was 61 years old when he launched IBM (then the ‘Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company’).
Largest technology companies by revenue: ordered by youngest to oldest founders
Company and average age of founders:
1. Dell - 18
2. Facebook - 19.8
3. Microsoft - 20.5
4. Foxconn - 23
5. Panasonic - 23
6. Google/Alphabet - 25
7. Hewlett-Packard - 25.5
8. Tencent - 27.3
9. Samsung - 28
10. Apple Inc - 29
11. Cisco - 30.5
12. Sony - 31.5
13. Hitachi - 36
14. Intel - 39.5
15. Lenovo - 40
16. Huawei - 42
17. LG - 50
18. IBM - 61
Younger tech gurus are also earning the most revenue
Our analysis of the Forbes 500 list shows that the average age of the top 5 tech company founder is just 25 years, seven years younger than the average age across all 18 companies.
Of the top 5, Microsoft has the youngest founding members (20.5 years) while the oldest top-revenue ages are at Apple Inc (29 years).
Top 5 largest technology companies by revenue: ordered by Forbes ranking
Company and average age:
1. Apple Inc - 29 (Forbes ranking #1)
2. Samsung - 28 (Forbes ranking #2)
3. Foxconn - 23 (Forbes ranking #3)
4. Google/Alphabet - 25 (Forbes ranking #4)
5. Microsoft - 20.5 (Forbes ranking #5)
Single entrepreneurs typically start their tech businesses later in life, with an average starting age of 36 vs 28 years for multiple entrepreneurs.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the tech company with the youngest multiple founders is Facebook. The company’s five founders (Mark Zuckerberg, Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes) accrued an average age of 20 years. Zuckerberg and Moskovitz, aged 19 at launch, were the youngest of the five when Facebook was founded.
The tech company with the oldest multiple founders is Intel. Gordon E. Moore and Robert Noyce were 39 and 40 years old, respectively, at the time of launch.
Largest technology companies by revenue with one founding member: ordered by youngest to oldest founders
Company and founders age:
1. Dell (pre-merger) - 18
2. Foxconn - 23
3. Panasonic - 23
4. Samsung - 28
5. Hitachi - 36
6. Lenovo - 40
7. Huawei - 42
8. LG - 50
9. IBM - 61
Largest technology companies by revenue with 2+ founding members: ordered by youngest to oldest founders
Company and average age of founders:
1. Facebook - 19.8
2. Microsoft - 20.5
3. Google/Alphabet - 25
4. Hewlett-Packard - 25.5
5. Tencent - 27.3
6. Apple Inc - 29
7. Cisco - 30.5
8. Sony - 31.5
9. Intel - 39.5
Older tech founders thrive in the UK
While the Fortune Global 500 is focused primarily around those in their early 30s/late 20s, the UK’s biggest tech companies (according to the Sunday Times Sage Tech Track 100) are slightly older.
Upon reviewing the top 50 UK tech businesses, we discovered the best age to start a tech business in the UK is 35 years old. The average ages of the founders of Fleetondemand (a corporate mobility platform, #45) and Whalar (marketing technology brand, #8) were the two companies which were founded closest to this optimal age.
Revolut, #1 on our list and the company whose co-founder has just become the UK’s first tech start-up billionaire, isn’t far off; the average age of their two co-founders comes in at 32 years.
Younger business founders do still have a strong footing at the top of the list, however. 40% of the top 10 UK tech businesses were founded by under 30s (Tessian #3, Pollen #4, Bark.com #6 and Lendable #10).
The youngest UK tech founders, Christian Owens and Harrison Rose of Paddle, were both just 18 at the time of founding their e-commerce retail company, but just fall short of the top 10, coming in at #12 on the Sunday Times list.
Company and average age of founders on the Sunday Times list:
1. Revolut - 32
2. n/a - n/a
3. Tessian - 24
4. Pollen - 23
5. VoCoVo - 31
6. Bark.com - 28.5
7. Elvie - 37.5
8. Whalar - 34.5
9. Elder - 39.5
10. Lendable - 24.75
Again, age is but a number in the tech industry. That’s what Simon Bransfield-Garth has proven at least. Aged 52 years old when he founded green tech business Azuri Technologies, Simon is the oldest UK tech company founder in our review***.
The best date to start a tech business is 1st February
Analysing the most common day and month that the tech companies in our list launched, we found that the best date to start a tech business is 1st February.
The only company in the list who shares this exact start date is Dell, who launched on 1st February 1984 (incidentally, 1984 is also the most common starting year, according to the global tech companies we analysed).
Other tech conglomerates on our list who started in the month of February include Facebook (4th February 2004) and Foxconn (20th February 1974). March, April, September and November tied for 2nd place in terms of the most common month to start a tech business.
According to our data, the worst month to start a tech business is August; none of the top 18 companies launched in that month but at least one business was started in every other month.
26th January is the ‘golden birthday’ for upcoming tech leaders
Individually viewing the most common day and month of the tech entrepreneurs’ birthdays in our list, the ‘golden birthday’ for upcoming tech leaders is 26th January. Of all the entrepreneurs we analysed, Akio Morita (co-founder of Sony) is the only one to share that birthday.
May and October are also common tech leader birthdays, while June and July are the least common birthday months.
*Where there are multiple founders, their average has been collated as a combination of all the ages.
**Ages are rounded up to their nearest whole number
*** Football Index (#2) is temporarily absent from our list as it fell into administration in March 2021.