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Famous SAS man trousers £1m as e-publishing startup sold to Tesco

Andy McNab, VC

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Famous ex-SAS man "Andy McNab" will pocket almost £1m as Mobcast, an e-book publishing operation he co-founded, is sold to Tesco.

Mobcast has 130,000 titles available to read on tablets, phones or computers and is not tied to any specific device. The service was founded in 2007 by McNab and the firm's head, Tony Lynch.

"As an author I always thought the ability to carry your library around and read on all your personal devices would be a huge benefit to all," said McNab in tinned quotes supplied as part of Mobcast's announcement of the buy.

"We have developed a product that makes this possible, and being acquired by Tesco ensures that this original vision will be available to as many people as possible."

The purchase is another step for Tesco into electronic distribution, following the retail goliath's previous acquisitions of vid-streamer Blinkbox and audio platform WE7. Tesco paid £4.5m for Mobcast, which according to records filed at Companies House is not yet making a profit: it recorded net losses of over £800k in the year to May 2011.

McNab will have been a useful man to have on board for the fledgling operation, as his is a name to conjure with in the book-publishing world. He shot to fame in the 1990s with the publication of the mega-selling Bravo Two Zero, his account of the eponymous SAS disaster mission during the 1991 Gulf War, which saw all but one of McNab's team killed or taken prisoner by the Iraqis.

Two other surviving team members and various other people subsequently wrote books about the Bravo Two Zero affair - all of which contradicted McNab's account on various points - but McNab was the first of the modern special-forces megaselling authors and the most successful. He subsequently achieved much success with a sequence of fictional action novels and further non-fictional accounts of his service, which apart from SAS experience around the world also included plainclothes undercover employment with the unit then known variously as "14 Int" or "the Det(s)"* in Northern Ireland.

McNab and later imitators/competitors (perhaps most notably his former Bravo Two Zero subordinate Chris Ryan, the only member of the team to escape capture by the Iraqis) started such a trend toward bang-bang-and-tell memoirs among retiring British special-forces types that later generations of operatives have been compelled to sign stringent non-disclosure agreements on joining the secret units. This has perhaps been excellent news for McNab, Ryan et al, preventing them being edged out by subsequent generations with more recent stories to tell.

However that may be, and regardless of how things actually went down in the Iraqi desert back in 1991, with today's Tesco deal Mr "McNab" has achieved a success that many a budding techbiz venture capitalist might envy. The former SAS sergeant was actually awarded a Distinguished Conduct Medal following the Bravo Two Zero episode - but he can now, at least in a techbiz sense, be known as McNab, VC. ®

Bootnote

*Nowadays officially admitted to exist and named the Special Reconnaissance Regiment.

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