Dan Wagner

Dan Wagner
Dan Wagner
Born Dan Wagner
28 July 1963 (1963-07-28) (age 48)
Edgware, Middlesex, England
Nationality British
Occupation Businessman
Known for


Venda Inc
Net worth increase £42 million or more [1]
Bright Station

Dan Wagner (born 28 July 1963) is an English entrepreneur and businessman. He was one of the first British-based Internet entrepreneurs, having founded M.A.I.D (Marketing Analysis & Information Database) in 1984, a company which provided online information services. It made over 200,000 publications available from 192 countries.

He was educated at Merchant Taylors' School, Northwood and University College School, London. After briefly joining Richer Sounds as a salesman he went to work for WCRS advertising in 1981. In 1984, Wagner founded MAID (Market Analysis and Information Database) which was one of the first online information repositories and Wagner as CEO was responsible for its development and growth, building it from zero to 26% of the global on-line information market.

In addition to being a renowned serial entrepreneur he is also regarded as an extraordinary salesman.[2]



Wagner was born in Edgware, Middlesex. He is the youngest of two children of John and Yaffa Wagner, who was a motor industry businessman predominantly running the UK operations of BMW, Volkswagen and Volvo as Chief Executive.

Personal life

Wagner met his wife Susan when he was 27 whilst on a business trip to Japan. She was a fashion model with Elite Model Management and had been working in Tokyo at the time. They married on 2 August 1998, have two children, and live in Belsize Park, London.

Dan is an inveterate Arsenal fan.



Wagner founded the online information company MAID in 1984, the name being an acronym of - Market Analysis Information Database.

By 1985, the first version of the online service was available to customers. By providing a simple menu interface providing access to an aggregation of some of the best known market research publishers and trade publications in the UK, Wagner was able to provide customers with the ability to interrogate them all simultaneously via a computer and a telephone line. At the time, online services were in their infancy (as was the personal computer) and as a result the service was delivered at a speed of 3 kbs (typical broadband speeds today are 700 kbs).

Because the UK market was embryonic, Wagner relocated to New York City in January 1986 by taking an apartment on the Upper West Side and using it both as accommodation for him and three of his staff as well as the main office for MAID in the USA. By July 1991, MAID relocated its offices from South Park Tower to Park Avenue South.

In 1992, as business grew in Europe, an office in Paris was opened at 10 Rue de Presbourg and in November 1993, an office was opened on the West Coast of America in Los Angeles.

In 1994, MAID was listed on the London Stock Exchange [3] and in 1995 floated on NASDAQ.[4] During the 1990s, MAID more doubled its market value every year as a result of fast sales growth and numerous strategic alliances starting with a deal in 1995 with Microsoft to provide much of the content for their online service MSN.[5] This was followed by distribution deals with CompuServe,[6] IBM [7] and BT.[8]

During this time, Wagner was also actively involved in the development of the UK internet service provision market funding the development of UK Internet Service provider Easynet [9] and pioneering internet access through television by developing technology within MAID that was licensed to hotel groups Forte[10] and Granada.[11]

In November 1997, Wagner engineered the reverse acquisition of Knight Ridder Information which owned many international professional databases including Dialog Information Services in the United States and DataStar in Europe.[12][13] He managed the integration of the MAID business into Dialog, migrated the existing Dialog databases and professional information solutions to the Internet.

MAID, under Wagner’s direction, was also active in funding and developing concept based information retrieval technologies to assist customers in searching the growing archives of information stored in now three data centres around the world. In 1997, Wagner acquired the Muscat search engine [14][15] which was devised by Dr Martin Porter from research performed by at Cambridge University and was commercialized in 1984 by Cambridge CD Publishing. Dr. Porter is widely recognised for having created the Porter Stemming Algorithm which became the de-facto standard algorithm used for English stemming. Porter joined MAID and headed up the development and research into new search algorithms.

In 1997, Wagner gained a deal to license search technology (InfoSort) to Fujitsu of Japan[16] which was hailed by Prime Minister Tony Blair as "a significant and very welcome development in Anglo-Japanese trading relations".[17]

In 2000, he sold Dialog’s Information Services Division to The Thomson Corporation of Canada retaining certain assets made up from search, eCommerce and internet through TV technologies and renamed the new entity Bright Station PLC.

Bright Station

Bright Station is Dan Wagner’s personal vehicle for the creation of his businesses and is essentially an Internet and eCommerce focused technology holding company. In May 2000, he acquired the assets of failed fashion 'retailer' Boo.com and absorbed them into Bright Station.[18][19][20] In April 2001, Wagner took Bright Station private from the LSE and NASDAQ and spun out its two direct investment activities; Venda Inc and Locayta, both of which provide solutions delivered to customers as rented services but managed and operated centrally. This approach to technology services is known as Software as a service or SaaS.

Bright Station Ventures was set up 2007 in partnership with serial entrepreneur Sháá Wasmund to nurture new web opportunities that they created.[21][22]


Venda is an on-demand, software-as-a-service platform delivering eCommerce and multi-channel retail solutions to customers worldwide. Wagner devised the concept for Venda in 1998 as a subsidiary of MAID and funded the research into creating the world’s first shared platform for eCommerce.[23]

Venda is now the global market leader in SaaS eCommerce and runs the eCommerce solutions for hundreds of the world’s leading manufacturers and retailers including Panasonic, Laura Ashley, TK Maxx, Tesco, the British Museum, BBC, France Telecom, Universal Music Group, JVC, Condé Nast and many others.

In December 2007, following the appointment of Eric Abensur as Group Chief Executive of Venda (from France Telecom’s Orange subsidiary), Wagner was rumoured to be planning a return to the public markets with Venda.[24][25][26]


Locayta is Wagner’s Software-as-a-service search and web solutions business. Locayta has at its heart a sophisticated suite of search, recommendation and merchandising technologies that have been deployed for customers in a variety of ways. Most Venda eCommerce sites use Locayta search technologies for retrieval of products and for intuitive navigation. In addition, BT uses Locayta to operate its online telephone directories and Nectar uses Locayta technology to operate their comparison shopping site.

Aigua Media Group

Aigua Media Group was launched in 2009 following the consolidation of three separate Bright Station Ventures businesses – Osoyou.com (launched in 2007), Aigua Media Blogs (launched in 2006) and The Beauty Quest (launched in 2009).[27] The publishing group owns leading fashion blogs (including Catwalk Queen, Shoewawa, Bag Lady, Kiss and Make Up and others), together with pioneering social shopping networks Osoyou.com[28][29] and The Beauty Quest.[30] Today, Aigua Media represents the largest female web readership in the UK (over 1.25 million unique visitors per month as at January 2010).


Smarta is a social network for businesses and entrepreneurs. It provides information from lawyers, accountants and other industry experts as well as videos and insight from successful entrepreneurs. Theo Paphitis and Deborah Meaden sit on the board of Smarta which is chaired by Sir Richard Needham. Smarta received investment from Bebo founders Michael and Xochi Birch.

Smarta has been sponsored by RBS, Intuit and Vodafone as well as support from Mishcon de Reya, Business Environment and the Government.[31]


Powa is Wagner's latest venture. An eCommerce and website publishing platform for brand owners and small businesses. Powa is already partnered with industry heavyweights ebay, paypal and JPMorgan Chase in the United States for payment processing via their subsidiary Chase Paymentech Chase Paymentech. Through Powa, Wagner appears to be replicating the success of Venda but targeting smaller businesses and inidividuals.[32]


BuyaPowa was launched in September 2011 with Gideon Lask. BuyaPowa is an innovative group buying platform and represents a community of shoppers brought together by a desire for products at better prices. [33][34]


Wagner was chosen by the World Economic Forum as a Global Leader of Tomorrow in 1997, and awarded Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year 1998.

Wagner is now often asked to comment on current events in IT and web related activities.[35][36]


  1. ^ Dan Wagner and Family
  2. ^ The Heart of Selling
  3. ^ MAID to raise £20m through equity placing
  4. ^ MAID seeks £50m on NASDAQ
  5. ^ How to make £36m pounds in 48 hours
  6. ^ CompuServe and MAID form Strategic alliance
  7. ^ MAID shares soar on news of IBM link
  8. ^ MAID and BT to develop comprehensive information services
  9. ^ MAID acquires minority stake in Easynet
  10. ^ Forte Partners With M.A.I.D To Provide Internet Services To Guests Worldwide
  11. ^ MAID signs hotel internet provider deal with Granada
  12. ^ MAID to Buy Knight-Ridder Database Unit
  13. ^ Profile Dan Wagner: The fast talker learns his lines
  14. ^ MAID for Muscat
  15. ^ MAID seeks role in digital TV revolution
  16. ^ Dialog signs multi million deal with Fujitsu
  17. ^ Blair hails new Dialog/Fujitsu Alliance
  18. ^ Buyer for Boo Technology
  19. ^ Bright Station snaps up boo technology and people
  20. ^ Boo.com Assets Sell for Spooky $375,000
  21. ^ The tech veteran returns
  22. ^ Britain's controversial web whiz logs in again
  23. ^ Wagner rings changes online
  24. ^ Wagner composes his return to the public stage
  25. ^ Venda to float
  26. ^ Dan Wagner ties up Tesco online
  27. ^ Shiny Media fashion blogs saved by investor
  28. ^ Dawn Bebe is oh so now
  29. ^ Shaa Wasmund log on for shopping nirvana
  30. ^ Get clicking to the best beauty buys online
  31. ^ My big Idea: Smarta.com
  32. ^ Venda's Dan Wagner to launch website venture
  33. ^ New website Buyapowa takes on group buying giants
  34. ^ BuyaPowa brings group buy discounts
  35. ^ Dan Wagner presenting on behalf of UK trade delegation in Beijing, China May 2008
  36. ^ Wagner comments on the demise of Bebo on BBC news


Further reading

  • Andrew Davidson, "Smart Luck & the seven other qualities of great entrepreneurs" (2002), paperback ISBN 0-273-65265-6.
  • Ernst Malmsten, Erik Portanger, Charles Drazin, "Boo Hoo: A Dot Com Story" (2002), paperback ISBN 0-09-941837-1

External links

Website links

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