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Internet cafés: Easy come, easy go?

When you're this rich, who cares?
Written by silicon.com staff, Contributor

When you're this rich, who cares?

So how many internet café-owning millionaires do you know? One? OK - let's turn the question around. How many millionaires made their money through internet cafés? The answer is almost certainly none. Stelios Haji-Ioannou is the obvious answer to question one, and he's rich because his dad made a fortune in shipping, which junior then invested in an airline plus a multitude of other spin-off businesses. What is he doing mucking about with internet cafés in the middle of a recession? After all, they have never been, and probably never will be big money spinners. Cast your mind back to the mid-90s when internet cafés were going to be the next big thing. One of the very first was Cyberia, between London's Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Street. Oh, and that lasted a long time didn't it. It's no surprise that in these lean and mean times, easyInternetCafes' investors decided they'd sooner take their money and run than convert their stakes into shares. But whether Stelios' cafés live or die doesn't depend on the bottom line. With prime locations all dressed up in their orange and white livery, they serve their purpose branding the easyGroup as the people's friend. And why does Mr Haji-Ioannou not have to worry too much about his bottom line? Because he has the ultimate advantage over his rivals - it's a family business and when he feels he wants to pump another £15m in and "see how it goes" - well, frankly that's his prerogative. Good luck to him. Whatever the acumen in question, things might not be the same without those easyEverything cafes.
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