Update : In 1999 I was dropped into the BBC’s Beeb.com, as their head software engineer by Fitjitsu ICL. We were asked to update various websites (including Radio Time, Gardeners World) in time for an advertising campaign mentioned in the article below. On the basis of this year long project I was promoted to Jr Technical Design Authority and moved into the more prestigious financial services division. An achievement that still makes me very proud. Also an achievement that required working countless weekends and a 6am start to watch Angela Ripon present this advert on sky while checking our servers hadn’t melted.
This article extract explains Beeb.com’s history well. Remember the turn of the century was the height of the dot com bubble. This included the peak of media frenzy over companies like the disastrous boo.com who continually poached my developers with promises of BMW’s. For some reason my co-workers genuinely thought we were outside the bubble. It was surreal, we were based in the now demolished TV Centre at White City. Doctor Who was off the air. His Time Machine the Tardis lived on top of a mountain of props in the basement of our building. I become friendly with John Ketley and often hung around to watch variety shows backstage.
As it happens I was at that notorious party described in this article. To be fair I did have to break up a physical fight between an online producer and a guest journalist. Yet some of those other ego-maniacs have become some of my closest friends and continue to be valued co-workers and collaborators. And may I add successful.
So pleased this article is still in cyberspace in 2010
“BBC Online has been provoking outrage from its very inception in September 1996. Deputy director-general Bob Phillis initially planned to use the Web to sell content. Beeb.com was a commercial company that would make £50 million a year with computer giant ICL. BBC rivals were furious and said so.
But while news (pulled back under BBC control just three months later and spectacularly launched as the BBC News site a year after that) shows just how right the BBC can get the Internet, Beeb.com shows its total inability to function in a commercial Internet environment.
Two years after its launch, ICL finally pulled the plug on an ailing Beeb.com. And then, two years’ later in September 2000, the BBC tried again. A multi-million-pound ad campaign relaunched Beeb.com as a shopping site (and threw a huge party where, this writer remembers, possibly the world’s greatest ever group of talentless ego-maniacs gathered). Investors pumped in £32.5 million. Two years later, the same story – Beeb.com was shut down and millions of pounds were written off.”