NEWS22 February 2010

Zahawi stands for Parliament and steps down as YouGov CEO

People UK

UK— YouGov founder Nadhim Zahawi is to step down as chief executive of the online research agency in order to stand as an MP in the forthcoming general election.

Zahawi has been selected as the Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for the Conservative Party in the Stratford-on-Avon constituency, replacing the incumbent John Maples, who is retiring.

From today Zahawi’s YouGov co-founder Stephan Shakespeare resumes his original role of joint CEO, having held the post of chief innovation officer for the past few years.

Zahawi will resign as CEO on the date the election is called, leaving Shakespeare as sole CEO. Zahawi will also resign from the board of YouGov if he wins the seat.

Both Zahawi and Shakespeare have longstanding ties with the Conservative Party. Before setting up YouGov both men worked on Jeffrey Archer’s failed campaign to become London Mayor and both stood unsuccessfully in the 1997 election, Zahawi in Erith and Thamesmead and Shakespeare in Colchester.

Zahawi also spent 12 years as a councillor in Wandsworth, a post he gave up in 2006 to concentrate on running YouGov – presaging a rapid expansion of the business.

At the end of its first full year as a publicly quoted company the firm quadrupled profits, helping fuel investments in the US, Germany and Scandinavia.

Recent times have been less rosy for the business. While revenue for the financial year ended 31 July 2009 was up 10% to £44.3m, operating profit was down more than half to £3.1m and the firm posted a loss of £0.7m, citing the impact of the economic downturn on the research industry.

The general election will be held on or before 3 June.