Gianroberto Casaleggio, the 'visionary' founder of M5S

Entrepreneur and atypical politician shunned media attention

(ANSA) - Rome, April 12 - Italy was on Tuesday mourning the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S)'s "visionary" founder Gianroberto Casaleggio, who has died aged 61. The entrepreneur, mass media specialist, Internet expert and atypical politician from Milan began his career with Olivetti in the 1970s before creating the joint venture communications consultancy Webegg. In 2004 he established his Casaleggio Associates and started to take an interest in politics. He met Genoa comedian Beppe Grillo after a show the following year and suggested they work together, creating Grillo's hugely popular blog that would go on to become the on-line platform for the movement. This also marked the start of Grillo's political ascent.
    In 2007 Casaleggio Associates produced the videos "Prometheus - The media revolution" and "Gaia", a vision of the future in which traditional media have disappeared and the world is governed by Web-based intelligence. The films contributed to creating his aura of mystery and to accusations that he belonged to the esoteric freemasonry - a claim he repeatedly denied.
    Casaleggio and Grillo founded M5S in 2009 and the party went on to take 109 seats in the Lower House and 59 in the Senate in 2013 elections. With a few rare exceptions he kept out of the limelight, letting Grillo be the movement's front man. He took to the stage in Rome's Piazza San Giovanni for the close of the European Parliament election campaign in 2014 and again for the '5-Star Party' at Circo Massimo.
    His friend Grillo was always by his side.