The founders of the UK PR company Midas, Steven Williams and Tony Mulliken, who together have done so much to boost the profile of the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) globally, have announced their retirement. The pair will step down from their respective executive roles at the end of the year, though they will continue as consultants with the company until the end of March 2021 to honour client commitments held over from the cancellation of this year’s London Book Fair.
Williams and Mulliken sold the majority stake in the business to a small group of staff and investors in a Management Buy Out (MBO) in 2018. Since then they have maintained their active role in the company, in particular working to transition all aspects of the business to the new management team of Jason Bartholomew, Tory Lyne-Pirkis and Georgina Moore. Bartholomew, previously joint CEO, now becomes sole CEO, and Georgina Moore, Director of Books and Publishing, joins fellow Director Tory Lyne- Pirkis on the main Board.
In the UK Midas is widely respected with Williams and Mulliken being among the best-known names in the UK book industry. The company has worked on countless campaigns and events since its founding 30 years ago. The two founders have been involved with the SIBF since 2009. Under the direction of Ahmed Al Ameri, the Chairman of Sharjah Book Authority, and his team, Midas has played a significant role in spreading the word about the fair to the international publishing community.
In particular, the fair’s professional programme has gone from strength to strength, while the fair’s famous ‘rights souk’ long ago expanded from just one room at the city’s Chamber of Commerce, to swirl right around the building’s first floor with hundreds of foreign publishers and representatives buying and selling rights encouraged by the fair’s generous translation grants.
Midas has also been instrumental in bringing many high-profile authors to the fair, most notably Dan Brown, author of The Da Vinci Code, who was given a pop star’s welcome in 2014 and whose visit to the emirate led him to describe Sharjah as “a pinnacle of spirituality and learning’ in his later novel Origin. Other big names that Midas helped bring to the fair have included Jeffrey Archer, Arundhati Roy, Vikas Swarup and William Dalrymple.
Williams’ and Mulliken’s relationship with Sharjah has gone beyond being purely about business, but rather has become one of friendship, built up over the years on mutual warmth and respect. Sharjah is a client, yes, but it is also a friend.
In a joint statement, Mulliken and Williams said: “We are rightly proud of the company we founded. We planned the MBO and the subsequent changes in order to create a legacy for Midas so that it will remain strong for the future. We are therefore delighted that we will be leaving the company at the end of the year in such great shape, with a terrific leadership and management team and, importantly, with Midas remaining such a fun place to work.
“We want to thank not only all our wonderful clients but also our fantastic staff, past and present, for their amazing contributions to the success of the company over these years.”
Bartholomew said: “This is a bittersweet moment for Midas. Steven and Tony have built the company into the UK’s leading independent agency for publishing, culture and the arts, and all of us in the company rightly salute this achievement. Since I started with the company as joint CEO two years ago, we have been following an agreed plan of transitioning the business to the new management team which is now firmly in place. We will move forward to maintain the high standards Steven and Tony have set for our long-standing clients, as well as finding ways to grow and future-proof Midas for the next 30 years.”