89: Ralph Simon
Ralph Simon is on a relentless quest. That much is certain. His travel itinerary could easily be used in an upper-level high school geography class. Just in the week leading up to our conversation in London, he had been in Amsterdam, Berlin, Vilnius, and New York.
What is he in search of? That's a bit harder to define. The next thing in technology and entertainment. He might say it's something like "the next undiscovered young virtuosic talent" or "the latest in mobile and device innovation". Over the last 20 years, Ralph has become a recognizable face in the tech space, seemingly obsessed with the way mobile technology and content influence popular culture. At his core, Ralph loves a good hit.
His ability to find a hit, to create opportunity and add value to the creative class started long before the word mobile was a noun. Ralph was raised in South Africa during the Apartheid years. As a young man, he was a piano player, a concert promoter, and eventually a manager. He began his career co-founding the Zomba Group of music companies (including record label Jive Records) in the 1970s, building it into the world’s leading independent music and music publishing company.
In the 1990s he started to pivot toward tech, creating the first commercial ringtone company in the Americas, Europe, UK, Australia and Africa, and spurred a new and international mobile entertainment industry. He is often called the father of the ringtone. Since then, he has become one of the most influential voices in the global mobile conversation.