Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, long considered the embodiment of old world values and traditions, has embraced the Digital Revolution by turning a small dot-com investment into a sizable windfall.
In December, the Queen invested $157,000 (US$) in Getmapping.com, which is compiling a complete 60,000-image aerial map of the United Kingdom. After the company made its debut on London’s Alternative Investment Market (AIM) today, the Queen’s shares were worth a cool $1.4 million.
Notably, Queen Elizabeth’s Internet investment is not her first foray into cyberspace. Britain’s eighth richest woman has a Web site celebrating her long reign and the considerable influence of the Windsor family over the centuries.
While the Queen’s profit may be small change for a woman whose worth is estimated at nearly $450 million — give or take a priceless work of art — it is symbolic of a shift in both the British economy and the attitudes of its population. Many observers look to the ousting of the long-empowered Conservative Party by Tony Blair’s Labour Party as a watershed in bringing younger blood and new ideas to the forefront of British politics.
The Internet is fast becoming the other engine of change for Great Britain. The region — Britain, Scotland and Wales — is considered the second largest Internet market in Europe, behind Germany. Just as importantly, UK Internet incubators are giving birth to some innovative companies who view the world as their marketplace.
Getmapping.com, for example, has international expansion plans. The company said it will use some of the $11 million it is raising from the secondary AIM market to build a portfolio of overseas digital photography.
It intends to sell its digital images to government agencies, construction companies, real estate companies and the general public. The company began trials in February and attracted 94,000 unique visitors for the month. Getmapping.com plans to establish 30 franchises around the UK to sell its products.
The Queen became involved with the company after it sought to dedicate facsimiles of the Domesday Book, the 11th-century survey of England commissioned by William the Conqueror, to her.