2006 marked the £210 million takeover of uSwitch by US media firm EW Scripps. Figure heading the exchange was a man who had been there since its inception, acting CEO Andrew Salmon.
A former Pricewaterhouse Coopers consultant, he was just 36 years old, but had already enjoyed a long career with the company since its inception in September 2000. At the time of its sale six years later, he and other employees then held a nine percent share of the brand between them.
This meant that Andrew Salmon did well when uSwitch sold, yet he chose to remain with the business irrespective. One of the key players in building the company, he saw it achieve more than twice its expected sale price.
By the time of the sale, price comparison was a well-established model in the UK, with Britons increasingly prone to switch banks, energy providers, credit card companies, and telecom suppliers. Indeed, in 2005, almost 42 million switches took place nationwide.
An economist by trade, Andrew Salmon had spent the early part of his career working with energy companies, before moving to the internet arena when he partnered with uSwitch founder George Milford Haven.
As he explained in 2006: “An economist would say that the internet is about perfect information. It’s fundamentally about providing information to people, allowing consumers to search for products without leaving their homes.”
In 2000, when the company launched, the internet was still in its infancy, but Andrew Salmon, in his late 20s and working at EDF Energy, recognised that there must be a way to offer consumers a way to compare prices in the newly de-regulated energy market.
As he later revealed: “I thought there must be a better way of doing this. The answer was to go to the customer with a variety of offerings via the web, so they could avoid being sold to door-to-door.”
With this idea and George Milford Haven’s financial backing, both were able to secure further funding from other investors – an achievement that helped the company maintain its independent status throughout the .com crash of 2001 and right up to the point of its 2006 sale.
It was their straightforward business sense that made uSwitch such an attractive acquisition prospect for the American business that would eventually acquire it.
Salmon once describing his “greatest buzz” as the one he gained from watching the company he built grow from just seven staff members to over 100.