Neil Mallon Bush was born in 1955 and named after his grandfather's Yale buddy Neil Mallon, the corporate CEO who gave George H.W. Bush his first job in the Texas oil business.
He went to Tulane University, where he received a degree in international economics and, in 1979, an MBA. That year, while working on his father's unsuccessful campaign for the 1980 Republican presidential nomination, Neil met Sharon Smith, whom his mother later described in her memoirs as "a darling young schoolteacher from New Hampshire."
They married in 1980 and moved to Denver, where Neil got a $30,000 job negotiating mineral leases for Amoco. In 1982, Neil and two co-workers quit and formed an oil exploration company, JNB Exploration. n 1985 he joined the board of Silverado Savings and Loan.
Bush became a public symbol of the $500 billion savings and loan scandal. Protesters picketed his home and pasted mock wanted posters around Washington: "Jail Neil Bush."
With Silverado and JNB both belly up, Bush started Apex Energy, a methane gas exploration company. He invested $3,000 of his own money and got $2.3 million from two companies run by his father's friend Louis Marx, heir to the Marx toy fortune.
For the last several years, Bush's main business interest has been Ignite!, the educational software company he co-founded in 1999. To fund Ignite!, Bush has raised $23 million from U.S. investors (including his parents), as well as businessmen from Taiwan, Japan, Kuwait, the British Virgin Islands and the United Arab Emirates, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Last year, Ignite! also entered into a partnership with a Mexican company, Grupo Carso Telecom. The partnership enabled Ignite! to lay off half of its 70 employees and outsource their jobs to Mexico.