Ben-Yitzhak Brothers: 888 Founders
Shay and Ron Yitzhak are one of the two sets of brothers who founded 888 Holdings, which is responsible for the development of several thriving online casinos. Shay's software writing abilities and Ron's background in gambling highly contributed to the early success of the company.
888 Holdings wouldn't be the booming multi-million dollar corporation it is today without the help of the Ben-Yitzhak brothers. Their intelligence, their creativity, and their willingness to take a risk for the company is what made it thrive.
Shay's Contributions to 888
Shay attended and graduated from the Israel Institute of Technology with a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science. He worked as a software developer for a plethora of different companies including CIBAM Technologies Limited and Tower Semi-Conductor Limited.
Shay and his brother were approached by the Shaked brothers for an opportunity of a lifetime to join them as they made one of the world's first online casinos. Shay was hesitant of the idea at first, but with the persuasion of his brother, he decided the risk was worth the potential rewards that the partnership had to offer.
Shay played a very important role within the company, as it was his responsibility to write the software used during the company's early years, despite a limited knowledge of gambling. He used what he learned from his previous work experiences and with the aid of his brother, he was able to implement unique software that had an easy-to-use interface and enhanced graphics.
As the company expanded, Shay became the Chief Technical Officer, meaning he dealt with all of the technological problems the company faced. Under this position, he was in charge of the research and development center the company opened in 1998, called Random Logic Limited, which was located in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Ron's Contributions to 888
Ron is essentially the only one of the four founding members that really understood and enjoyed gambling at casinos. He would spend a great deal of time at the casinos in Israel, learning the different games and trying his luck at the tables. It was never mentioned that he ever made a significant amount of money from this, but it did cause him to cross paths with the Shaked brothers.
After Ron and his brother were approached by the Shaked brothers with their revolutionary idea of an online virtual casino, it was Ron that had to convince his brother to join the group, which wasn't an easy task as they had to remortgage their homes in order to have the necessary funds to get the business off the ground. Ron, Shay, and the Shaked brothers all took a huge leap of faith as they started what would later be known as 888 Holdings.
In May of 1997, the company launched its first casino, Casino-on-Net, which definitely sparked people's interest in their company and even provided them with a decent amount of loyal customers. Ron and the others were ecstatic and very anxious to see where the company might end up.
In 2002, they launched their second online casino, Reef Club Casino, which was an expansion of their first site, including even more games that Ron was able to master and explain to his brother so that he could write the software for them.
Moving on from 888: The Ben- Yitzhak Brother
After the United States announced the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, which prohibited US customers from completing transactions with gambling sites, 888 closed their doors to US customers all together.
The following year, upon Ron's request, the brothers decided that they were going to sell a substantial amount of their shares of the company. Together they owned 57.5 million shares and they decided to sell 13.6 million shares of that for a total profit of $31 million. Through the process of this deal, they went from owning 17% of the company to only having 11% of it. Ron left the company for good soon after that, taking his half of the shares and retiring so that he could spend more time with his family.
Shay deciding to stay with the company a little longer, but he stepped down to become a non-executive member of the board. He would still attend board meetings and was able to voice his highly-respected opinion, but he didn't have any direct authority over the decisions that were made. In 2010, he left the company for good so that he could spend more time with his family.
After his retirement, 888.com chairman Richard Kilsby said, "I would like to express on behalf of the board and all at the company our appreciation of Shay's contribution as one of the original founders of the business, and in growing the company from its infancy to where it is now. We wish him all the best for the future."
Author: Nicole Miller
Updated: May 2015
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