Mike Lynch

CEO -- Autonomy Corp. -- Britain

The recent downturn in tech stocks hasn't bothered Mike Lynch, the 34-year-old chief executive officer of British software company Autonomy Corp. Founded in 1994, the company raised $275 million in May through a secondary-share offering on Nasdaq. The company's shares already traded on Brussels-based Easdaq, where their value has spiked--from $150 million in 1998 to more than $5 billion today.

Autonomy's track record has helped it to escape market jitters. The company's roster of 160 customers ranges from British Aerospace to Merrill Lynch & Co. And Autonomy's software is unique: Lynch, a mathematician with a PhD, developed it while at Cambridge University. It uses mathematical algorithms to scan text and sort the information by context and meaning. No other software can do it like Autonomy's, industry experts say.

Lynch has come a long way since he borrowed $3,000 from an eccentric he met in a pub to start his company. But Britain's first Net billionaire still comes across as low key. When not in Autonomy's Cambridge headquarters or checking out its Silicon Valley operations, Lynch likes to hang out at his home in the countryside--and play with his otter hound, Gromit.