Jack Cator

Jack Cator (29), Privax Ltd

Net worth: £45 million

Cator’s business idea began when he was 16. Frustrated with his school’s computer network blocking gaming and music sites, he decided to use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) website to access his favourite sites. Cator felt that the current VPN services weren’t of the best quality, so he decided to create his own, and Hide My Ass was born. He sold his company (Privax Ltd, parent company of Hide My Ass) for £40 million 10 years later and now continues as Chief Executive.

Jack Cator sounds like the name of a self taught maverick cop with unconventional ways of tackling crime. HideMyAss sounds like the sort of dialogue you’d expect to hear being shouted in the trailer for his TV series. Cator might be teamed up with someone called Danvers, who does everything by the book, and together they form a highly successful chalk and cheese crime fighting partnership.
Which, oddly enough, is half right. But could these law enforcers cause chaos in the banks and tempt users into lawlessness?
Security Companies use if to Fight Crime – But Could it Fall Into The Wrong Hands?
Jack Cator, 22 year old boss of Privax
Cator’s company Privax helps people and law enforcers fight crime in the mean streets of Cyberia. Danvers Baillieu has just been recruited from law firm Pincent Masons to be the company COO. Which is probably a good idea, given Cator’s youth. He was 16 when he started the company in 2005.
After Privax’s first web based app, HideMyAss, achieved 8 million uniques, a new paid for version MHA! Pro VPN is on course to win 100, 000 subscribers, they say.
Free subscribers use it to hide their ID from snoopers as they surf the web. So criminals can’t hop across a public wifi connection and spy on innocent surfers. Security firms use the web proxy service to achieve anonymity, which stops virus writers from rumbling them when they go undercover.
At $78 for an annual subscription, Privax is on target for $7.8 million in revenue, if its projections are to be believed. Which isn’t bad considering Cator started the VPN web proxy service as a 16 year old, working from his bedroom in the village of Breckles, in darkest Norfolk. The company started with a $20 investment for hosting his web site.
Though self taught, Cator has moved to London to be among like minded people and broadband. You get the impression he wasn’t that keen. “It was mainly a business necessity move,” says Cator, who now lives in Camden.
But could Cator’s crime fighting technology have unintended consequences? Yesterday, ChannelBiz reported how social media is being used to research IT purchases.
That revelation provoked an angry response from an IT manager in Canary Wharf, the new financial heartland in London’s Docklands. “Compliance in banking is so strict you could never use social media in a bank. We don’t even let people have a hotmail account,” said the furious IT boss.
If people started making contentious statements about anyone, let alone IT brands with big legal departments, there’d be hell to pay, he warned.
But HideMyAss, which masks your IP address and replaces your online ID, could allow users to get around restrictions. It’s popular with people who live in oppressive regimes where surfing and freedom of speech is frowned up. And banks too.  Until the Ayatollah’s of corporate IT spot it and add it to their list of blocked addresses.
In the meantime, HideMyAss could help you break all the rules. Be it on your head though.