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Stephan Shakespeare (born 9 April 1957) is the founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the British Internet-based market research and opinion polls company YouGov. He is also chairman of the ed tech company Flooved. He is the former owner of the websites ConservativeHome and PoliticsHome which he launched in April 2008 after closing down his Internet television channel 18 Doughty Street. The owner as of June 2012 is Lord Ashcroft.
In June 2012, Shakespeare was appointed as Chairman of the Data Strategy Board (DSB), the new advisory body that was set up by the government to maximise value of data for users across the UK.
Shakespeare was born as Stephan Kukowski in 1957 in Mönchengladbach, where his German father, a journalist, was the German Press Liaison Officer of Headquarters British Army of the Rhine. When he was five years old, the family moved to the UK, where he was educated at Christ's Hospital near Horsham, West Sussex. After graduating from Oxford, he took a one-year teaching course in Kingston upon Thames, during which time he was a member of the Socialist Workers' Student Society. He became a teacher and headmaster in Los Angeles, California in the 1980s. After marrying Rosamund Shakespeare, he exchanged his surname for that of his wife.
After returning home to the UK from the US, he became involved in politics, first as a political commentator and then as Jeffrey Archer’s Campaign Director during and after his failed London mayoral campaign. He was also a Conservative Party pollster.
In the 1997 general election, Shakespeare was the Conservative candidate for Colchester though he was defeated by Bob Russell with a majority of 1,551. During the campaign, Margaret Thatcher, against whom he had demonstrated as a student 17 years earlier, came to Colchester in order to support his attempt to win the seat for the Conservatives.
In 2000, Shakespeare founded YouGov with Nadhim Zahawi. YouGov’s first claim to fame was that it predicted Labour’s 10-point general election victory in 2001 within one percentage point. After expanding its business to the Middle East (acquiring the Dubai-based qualitative agency Siraj) and the United States through a major investment in the California-based opinion polling company Polimetrix in 2006, YouGov acquired a German and a Scandinavian market research organisation in 2007. The company further expanded in 2010 and 2011, acquiring the US-based Harrison Group in Waterbury, Connecticut, and Definitive Insights in Portland, Oregon. In 2011, the company established itself in Paris, France.
After a spell as the joint CEO with co-founder Zahawi, Shakespeare took the title of Chief Innovations Officer until he became sole CEO in May 2010, when Zahawi resigned from the board in order to stand for election to the House of Commons. As of May 2012, Shakespeare owned about 10 percent of YouGov's shares.