888 co-founder Aharon Shaked dies

Shaked, a dentist, once attended a convention at Monte Carlo - where the idea for his online gaming firm took hold.

888 Holding plc (LSE:888) co-founder Aharon Shaked, one of Israel's wealthiest men, has died after fighting a serious illness.

A dentist by profession, Aharon Shaked knew little about gambling, even though he co-founded online gaming operator 888. Aharon Shaked was also less well-known than his brother, Avi Shaked, who once tried to run for Knesset on the Labor Party list.

In an interview in 2005 with the "Financial Times", Aharon Shaked was portrayed as a modest, social man, devoted to charitable work, and interested in investing in start-ups.

His fortune is estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars. He once said, "I have a lot of money. I don’t go to eat at the better restaurants or go to buy a new car because I've already done all those things."

Aharon Shaked came up with the idea for 888 during a dentists' convention at Monte Carlo, where he noticed people thronging the casinos. After returning to Israel, he told his brother about the trip, and they decided to found an online casino. The problem that neither brother knew how to gamble and they had only the barest knowledge about the rules of casino games. So they went to the casino in Taba, in Sinai, carrying open checkbooks to learn how to play.

At the same time, they contacted the Ben-Yitzhak brothers, who had the technological know-how needed for the venture. Shortly afterwards, the four men took a loan, bought a gaming license in Antigua for $100,000, and founded 888.

888 co-founder Shay Ben-Yitzhak resigned as company director last week to spend more time with his family. He was the only of the company's four founders who played an executive role at the company.

888's closed at ₤1.11 on Thursday, giving a market cap of ₤385 million.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on January 3, 2010

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2010

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