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Sunday, 19 March, 2000, 16:23 GMT
Brits are Forbes tech billionaires

Psion - the one company that scares Bill Gates
Two Britons have entered the exclusive list of a United States magazine's "tech billionaires".

There are only 39 people on the list who live outside the US.

Mike Lynch, who founded Internet company Autonomy, and David Potter, the boss of hand-held computer firm Psion, have become dollar billionaires, says Forbes Global magazine in its Monday issue.

Mr Lynch is 36 out of 39 non-Americans, while Mr Potter is 38th.

But the UK lags behind Japan, India and Germany, Spain, France, Canada, Taiwan, Ireland and Israel.

Lynch, 33, a model railway enthusiast, started Cambridge-based Autonomy with a 2,000 loan.

The company, which specialises in building software that searches the internet intelligently, was recently valued at more than $8bn (5.1bn) - four times what it was worth at the start of 2000.

He is now worth $1bn (637m), according to Forbes Global magazine.

So too is Potter, 56, a quietly-spoken former physics lecturer who put 70,000 of his own money into Psion - Potter Scientific Instruments Or Nothing - before floating it on the stock market in 1987.

Psion's success

His hand-held computers, which store phone numbers, addresses and other information, are now so successful that Bill Gates, the world's richest man, has said Psion, based in London and the south-east, is the only threat to his giant Microsoft company.

A Forbes spokeswoman said the list showed how the new technology-based wealth that began to boom a decade ago in America was rapidly spreading to Europe, Asia and the rest of the world.

More than half the billionaires on the Forbes list crossed the threshold in the last nine months.

Top of the list is Masayoshi Son, of Japanese computer software company Softbank, whose personal net worth is put at $33.3bn (21.2bn).

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01 Feb 00 | Business
The Psion factor
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