Oxford friends share eight-figure payouts when Americans buy their company

A technology company powered by AI founded by three Oxford University grads will be acquired by a US group, making at least 12 of its employees millionaires.

Entrust, an American payments and data security company, has acquired Onfido of London, which specializes in ID verification software.

The final price is not disclosed but it’s believed to be $650m. Onfido was valued at $1.1 billion in a previous bid by Antonio Mugica.

Husayn Kassai (34), Eamon Jubbahwy (32) and Ruhul Amin (36), who were studying economics and business management at the time, founded Onfido while still in university. After raising $200 million of venture capital, they own 16 percent of the company.

Kassai’s 8 percent stake would be valued at $50 million if the company was valued at $650 million. According to the latest filings, Jubbawy & Amin each hold 4 per cent worth approximately $25 million.

Onfido employees own another 20 percent, with about 350 of them based in Britain. The employees would receive a share worth $130 million.

The University of Oxford is another winner from this deal. The University of Oxford was the first institution to invest £12,000 in a small stake for the three founders. Sources said that it would make 250 times more money than they invested.

Amin attended Mulberry Stepney Green in east London, while Kassai studied at Burnage Academy for Boys, a private school in south Manchester. Jubbawy attended St Paul’s School in west London, a private institution.

Kassai stated: “The UK ecosystem has allowed us, as founders – two of whom attended underprivileged schools – to get all the tools they need to create a large business. We have been fortunate to have helped others learn and upskill, and the fact that 14 members of the team are now founders of their companies is a testament to that.

Jubbawy is the son of two Iraqi migrants. He said that he was forced to disappoint his mother to become a tech entrepreneur. If you are from an immigrant family and smart, and excel in school, there is only one way to go: become a dentist or doctor. My father is a dental surgeon. It was my mother’s desire for me to become a doctor that I fought against. “I shattered all her dreams by telling her I would start my own business.”

He acknowledged that it was “a bit of a risk” at first. “I did not expect this outcome when we were young and started the business. He said that in the UK, we do not have the same enthusiasm for big dreams as Americans.

Onfido uses artificial intelligence to scan a person’s documents to confirm their identity. The software then uses facial recognition to verify the person’s online identity. Customers include BT, HSBC Revolut, Moneyfarm and numerous gambling and gaming firms.

Todd Wilkinson is the chief executive officer of Entrust. He said that Onfido has a “best in class” identity verification technology and team. The identity verification game is changing, he said. Deepfakes, synthetic identities and other threats are driving the global demand for an advanced level of identity assurance to facilitate crucial digital journeys, including those in banking, government, finance, travel, and more.

The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals. Onfido received multiple offers, according to sources familiar with the company. Mugica, a 49-year-old woman, valued the company at $1.1 billion, and demanded Kassai return as CEO. Kassai replied: “I am flattered by this offer but I already have my own company and investors I’m committed to, so it wasn’t an option for me to return.”

Onfido has cut more than 100 employees since its operating losses reached £70 million. Losses included the first payment of two totaling £23.1m that the company paid to settle a lawsuit alleging that its facial-recognition software violated Illinois state law.

Onfido was originally known as Referencebox, and later VerifyRecruit. The founders wanted to make remote verification of employees simple and secure. In 2013, it became Onfido.

In April 2020, the business secured its final venture capital investment, which was $100 million. This came from TPG Growth, a private equity firm as well as venture capital divisions at Microsoft and Salesforce. Kassai, Jubbawy, and Amin left Onfido after that fundraising. Amin continued to be its chief architect. Kassai launched Qunch.ai a learning platform for busy executives. Jubbawy created Isometric a carbon registry.

Onfido was also backed by other investors in its early years, including Dan Cobley (former UK managing director at Google), Brent Hoberman (co-founder of Lastminute.com) and Greg Marsh (co-founder of Onefinestay).