Alon Gonen and the Plus500 Millionaires


Alon Gonen, Gal HaberWhen reading through the list of Israeli millionaires, don't be surprised to find that the names of the five founders of Plus500 appear along with the others. Plus 500, a leading CFD provider based in Israel completed a successful IPO back in July 2013 on the London Stock Exchange's Aim market. The offering was conducted with just $25 million of the $75 million raised going to the company. The remaining $50 million was shared by the company's existing shareholders.

Back then, the founders at Plus500 determined that the time was right to dilute some of Plus500 holdings and convert some of their shares into cash. 10.8% of the shares were sold in the offering and after completing the sale, the five founders at Plus500 remained in a strong position with an aggregate ownership of 22.2 percent compared to the 53 percent it held up until that time.

Plus500 is authorized and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and is one of the most rapidly growing CFD providers in Europe and Asia. It currently offers its portfolio of over 2000 instruments to over a million clients and conducts over 2,000,000 transactions each month. Plus500 took the lead in introducing EFTs into its trading portfolio and was the first CFD provider to offer CFDs on shares without any commission. (click here for a full review of Plus500.)

Alon Gonen

Alon Gonen, 37, the brains behind the technology at Plus500, created the company with an initial investment of $400,000 and became its managing director. At the time of the IPO, he sold his shares of the company for a sum of $78 million, keeping his stock holdings at $177 million and becoming one of Israel's latest millionaires. His five co-founders joined him in the listing in addition to being able to hold onto a considerable amount of the firm's ownership.

The Plus500 trading company was founded in 2008 and within quite a short time occupied a significant market share of CFD contracts. Contracts for Difference are agreements between two parties which stipulate that a seller will pay to a buyer the difference between the current value of an asset and its value at contract time. A CFD trader can purchase almost any asset base in the capital markets, from stocks and commodities. By July 2001, Plus500 was assessed at a valuation of some $200 million (135 million pounds). In March, 2014, its current share price touched an all-time high of £6.09 per share before settling to close at £5.84. Its valuation stood at more than $1.1 billion. Plus500 has seen its share price rise by over 5x since its July 2013 IPO.

Plus500 Trading Platform

It is Plus500's unique trading platform that has contributed to its record rise in share price. The web-based trading software takes less than a minute to download and allows traders to trade all the world's most popular instruments from just one easy to use platform. The in-house developed platform makes the whole trading process simple and easy to operate.

Of the six original founders of Plus500, Gonen is considered the technological genius behind the initial endeavor. Gonen, who prefers to keep a low media profile, Gal Haber and Elad Ben Isaac, who served as Vice President of Marketing since the company's inception, were high school buddies. According to Gonen, "We played football in the same neighborhood." After his military service, Alan went on to receive three degree certifications at Haifa's Technion College of Science"”a Bachelor of computer science and both a Bachelor and Masters in electrical engineering. At the College, he met three other students who eventually became part of the founding team at Plus500 team. They have all emerged as millionaires from the Plus500 IPO.

Plus500's Shimon Sofer, 38 ended up with 5.1 million shares which are now worth over $42 million. Shlomi Weizmann retired from the company with a total share value of $320 million. When interviewed for the Marker, Weizman said "We were friends for so many years and we can say that we complemented each other very well, otherwise we wouldn't have been able to work together for so long."

That must be the key to a successful company"”a good team working together from the get-go and ending up with millions of dollars in their pockets. Not too bad a deal.

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