David Goldman MBE was one of the founders of The Sage Group plc, one of the UK's largest software businesses. He was born in Sunderland and trained as an accountant before moving to Newcastle with his wife, Cynthia, where he entered into partnership in a small printing business, Campbell Graphics. David was managing director for the business, which employed 20 people in the 1970s mainly printing magazines. He was restless and forever on the lookout for new opportunities. In 1980, he met Graham Wylie, then an undergraduate at Newcastle University, who had begun work on an accountancy package for small business. The two men formed a creative bond and, in 1981, with the American computer scientist Paul Muller, they established the Sage business. Sage initially had two products, an estimating package for printers and the accountancy package developed by Wylie. The former was soon sold to finance development and marketing of the latter. Through a combination of simple but clever marketing and dogged persistence, they began to build a loyal customer base and refine the Sage business model, which relies not only on new sales but the provision of support to customers and supply of sundries. The business really took off following the introduction by Alan Sugar in 1984 of the Amstrad personal computer for which Sage quickly produced a low-cost version of its software. Orders flooded in, new platforms were developed, new modules added and new markets developed overseas. The company was successfully launched on the London Stock Exchange in 1989, making its founders wealthy at a stroke. Sage remains a market leader in supporting small and medium-sized enterprises with offices in 24 countries and revenues of over £1.7 billion in 2017.
David Goldman died prematurely of cancer in 1999 before he could fully enjoy the fruits of his success. He had stepped down as chief executive in 1994 in favour of Paul Walker, chief financial officer, who had joined Sage as a young accountant in 1983. David became non-executive chairman and then retired completely in 1997 on discovery of his illness. Following his decision to step down as chief executive, David had more time to enjoy life with his family, Cynthia, and his two sons, Andrew (b. 1966) and Daniel (b. 1969), within the Orthodox Jewish community of Newcastle. He had a long-standing commitment to service and giving to local Jewish charities and support for Israel. His essential philanthropic creed was to help others grow and develop as productive citizens. Following his death, the Goldman family established a charitable foundation to celebrate his life and passions in perpetuity. As part of this vision, in 2001, the family made a large endowment gift to Newcastle University Business School to fund two professorships. The “David Goldman Chair of Innovation and Enterprise” is currently held by Professor Savvas Papagiannidis, an expert in digital innovation. The endowment also funds a “Visiting Professor of Innovation and Enterprise”, which is filled on an annual basis. This position is currently held by Alison Shaw, the founder of North East Futures, a University Technical College supported by the University of Sunderland. The David Goldman Charitable Foundation, led by Cynthia, makes grants principally to “children and individuals in deprived communities” and “other community charities” in the UK and Israel. In April 2017, the foundation had assets valued at £7.7 million, having expended £419,470 on charitable activities during the previous year.