Piers Linney quits Dragons' Den
Piers Linney has announced he is stepping down from BBC Two series Dragons' Den, after two years.
The 43-year-old technology guru said he will leave the show after the current 12th series to pursue other interests, after being an investor on the programme alongside fellow Dragons Peter Jones, Duncan Bannatyne, Deborah Meaden and Kelly Hoppen.
"After hearing over 200 pitches and made nine deals, I have had a fantastic experience on Dragons' Den and feel honoured to have had the opportunity to contribute to such an iconic and long-running TV show and to have been the first Dragon with Afro-Caribbean heritage," he said.
"I've really enjoyed it. It has been a great experience and a pleasure to share with millions of viewers the growing importance of digital innovation and how the technology and creative sectors are making their profound marks on the evolving landscape of British business.
"It is now the right time for me to move on, although entrepreneurship and diversity are two of my greatest passions so I will continue to focus my energies on supporting both. I've got many more things I want to do in life that I plan to do - and I've got family as well so time is at a premium," he added.
His exit from Dragons' Den follows in the wake of the departure of Kelly and Duncan, leaving Peter as the only remaining investor from the original series line-up.
The married father-of-two - who joined the show in 2013 alongside Hoppen - plans to focus on his cloud computing business Outsourcery and his not-for-profit digital platform, workinsight.org, as well as technology investment and work related to enterprise and diversity.
"Inclusion and social mobility have always been something which I have dedicated considerable energy and resources to promoting," Linney explained.
"Opportunity is not fairly distributed and the changing face of the UK population is not represented at the highest echelons of business and commerce, including on the boards of our largest companies. This is something which I have experienced in person and I am determined to do my bit to create a more level playing field for the next generation, irrespective of race, religion, gender, sexuality or socio-background."
Piers, who was named a member of the Cabinet Office SME (small and medium enterprises) Panel, will also continue to work closely with the businesses he has backed, including digital picture book publisher Lost My Name.
He continued: "Amongst the fantastic entrepreneurs I have backed in the Den, I was especially delighted to have spotted the potential of the full stack digital publisher, Lost My Name, which became the UK's highest selling children's picture book in 2014 and is already one of the biggest success stories to come out of the Den."
David Williams, from BBC Entertainment North, said: "Piers Linney has been an inspiration on the programme. His entrepreneurial expertise from the world of technology will be missed in the Den and we wish him continued success in his future ventures."
Piers, whose other investments included self-tan brand Skinny Tan, festival and clubbing holidays operator Mainstage Travel and customised trainers company Skribbies, is hoping another technology-oriented expert will take his place.
"I shone a light on technology, digital economy and innovation, that was one of the things that was lacking in the past. I hope there will be someone in the new line-up who will reflect the digital economy. It will be interesting to see who takes my seat," he said.
He also said he would not rule out a return to television. He previously appeared in Channel 4's The Secret Millionaire in 2011.
"I might do TV again. I'm good at being me and if something (a programme) reflects my interests, it might be something I'm interested in doing."
Dragons' Den continues on BBC Two on Sunday evenings at 9pm.