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EricBBigham's blog: God Bless Technology - Views ( 165117 ) -article by: EricBBigham

EricBBighams' BLOG ( 172 articles!)

God Bless Technology - Views ( 574 )
God Bless Technology  

God Bless Technology

Author: EricBBigham , Last Modified, 2021-03-09 01:35:56

Category: business Keywords: God-Bless-Technology

574 views 45

God Bless Technology

God bless technology.

For the past two weeks I have written over 180 articles, most of which were just tests for a blogging application or content management system (CMS) I'm developing.

The CMS supports and is integrated within a "Social Network" website that I started developing in April 2017. It has steadily grown and we are now being received in over thirty eight countries globally, according to Google Analytics.

Unfortunately I still only have around 100 members, most of whom hail from my extended Irish family I must admit, who were really recruited as "so called Beta Testers", but I shall refrain from the "B" word as we are mostly professionals on this site. So on that front at least, I am most definitely underwhelmed as I thought, when I commenced the journey, that social networks were supposed to be popular.

Of course like any start up is still in the "Discovery" phase, that is essentially a phase all start ups must inherently pass through if they are to survive and thrive. It is a stage where the "business" really isn't one at all! Rather the real job of a start up of course isn't to do business, it is to search for and discover who exactly its customers are or hopefully will be.

Part two Reviewing My Progress

Reviewing my progress, or lack of it perhaps, yesterday I reflected on my early (Year 2000) dot com experiences. I was a newly qualified accountant then, and had recently been put in charge of building and leading a 15 man finance team for PCCW UK Internet Services Division, PCCW are the Hong Kong equivalent of BT in the UK.

The Internet Services Division or PCCW UK had just launched what the PR Gurus had dubbed the "NOW TV" the Worlds First Internet and Television Converged Service. This was a super startup and Joint venture between IMGs Trans-world International and PCCW. The Founder was Richard Li, a man I met only on one occasion, and yes it was in an elevator, or lift.

He politely asked me who I was, and I explained that I ran the Finance Department, and I asked him the same question, and he replied "I'm Richard". I looked at him somewhat puzzled, as if to say Richard who?, of course being completely unaware that I was literally sharing the "proverbial elevator" with Richard Li, the son of Hong Kong's Richest Man Li Ka-shing.

Part three The meaning of it all

I smiled as I did in fact recognise him, he was all over the Financial Times that Wednesday, full page cover I believe. We both laughed as it was kind of funny and embarrassing at the same time, but I was taken by his politeness. I had worked with many Internet VCs most ex Morgan Stanley types with big arrogant attitudes. Richard, was different, he had nothing to prove and money to burn (Burn Rate is a Metric used by Start Ups).

Startups have a certain quality about them, they have a capability to consume cash like paper literally put into an open flame. I have a couple of theories about the reasons for this, it mostly stems from the fact that many of the hires are not actually entrepreneurial minded at all, as one might expect them to be.

Hires that are not part of the revenue and equity share program will be there for salary and that is potentially a danger. On one occasion I was building the Fixed asset register, I hired an accountant to work for my team, he diligently gathered the mass of un-filed purchase orders and invoices that were strewn from pillar to post with zero filing when we arrived at the premises, over a time we managed to create the necessary purchase order logging and invoice posting systems.

I installed the necessary accounting software and set upon the task of reconciling every last shred of an exhaustive paper trail so that I could tie back all expenditure to a fixed asset register that in turn tied purchase documentation back to physical assets.

It was a matter of some urgency at the time in fact because we occupied a large sprawling office park near Chiswick which presented ample opportunity for thieves to walk in and walk out carrying Plasma screens, lighting equipment, chairs, desks, PCs and Blackberries to name but a few of the items that appeared to grow legs and scram.

Our site comprised six television studios and in no time at all we managed to document a list of no less than 12,000 fixed assets that were not previously accounted for. In fact my "Fixed Asset Accountant" was so determined to get to the bottom of the conundrum, on occasions he would have engineers open equipment that was comprised or built from several parts that had different serial numbers and different invoices associate with them, if we couldn't find the asset but had the invoice it formed part of the Insurance claim we made to recover lost funds.

I believe after the exercise we recovered in the region of £ 3.5 Million in unclaimed VAT alone.

But more importantly we had created a cost conscious environment of financial control. Engineers no longer picked up the phone to a supplier to order software or hardware without first taking the time to check if there was a budget for it. We created a Purchase Request Log. If an engineer wanted to make a purchase, they would open a PO Request. A PO request this would be recorded on the system and automatically reduce the Unspent Proportion of their budget. We created designated budget holders. We recognised the risk in slowing down the build roll out of the site, but things had spiralled so far out of control it was necessary to put the breaks on. We needed a process of accountability, or Mr Li would soon deplete his investment fund with little to show for it. On on occasion I came across an invoice for �250,000, it appeared to be for scheduling software. We were not formally auditing internally as such just doing smart housekeeping. My Fixed Asset Accountant, as we titled the role would by tagging assets physically inspect that they in fact existed. This is a basic internal control procedure adhered to by all smart companies, without which the organisation would soon become rife with criminally generated orders and spend, for no value to the business. I was told the scheduling software was never actually used, apparently a few days after it was purchased another scheduler was purchased that did a better job, and the software was now defunct.

It is this precise waste that would not get made if the hires had so called SKIN in the GAME

Once we eventually reconciled the beast, we started to make sense of it all, as we were likely to need this bad boy to recoup VAT and Capital Allowances for the Corporate Tax Return. I'm talking literally millions of pounds in capital expenditure here, just beaset

So what's the point? I hear you ask. Well its just that his start up had achieved well not very much in 18 months and had a cash burn rate that could bankrupt a small country.

Contrast that with what I could build using today's open source technologies, PHP, MySQL and HTML5, CSS3 JSON, AJAX etc.. and all for a modest budget .

As I recall the business closed like many of that era with the loss of over 400 jobs in London and Hong Kong and all the cost was subsumed into an expensive group tax structure, in fact we helped the group save substantial amounts of tax legitimately of course. But the business ultimately had to be sold back to the developers, TWI in a complex reverse management buy out to free itself from the bear trap of 10 year leasehold and service network agreements. on the other hand has the luxury of doing what we Management Consultants call Pivoting. And it is fair to say that we have in fact "PIVOTED" a couple of times in just seven months. We began as a pure "social network" then moved on to "Gaming" and now we are exploring the value we could add as a "Performance Marketing" solution.

I have learned some useful things though that's for sure, firstly, gaming is great, I got to spend a lot of time with my 10 year old daughter learning how to play and understand the world of gaming.

I then had to teach myself to program in JavaScript so that I could build some games. We added Galaxy Invaders, Sudoku and Some Strategy and Math games, she loves a game we call Road Rage, a driver game with Hard Core Metal Music, but she shunned my math puzzles somewhat.

Games have two huge advantages over ordinary blogging or pure content marketing I think. Firstly Google analytics lets us compare bounce rates, and games have a stickability factor that outweighs non gaming content, this makes a lot of sense, Gamers stick around longer, secondly the CPMs are massive, yes, advertisers recognise the stickability factor and are willing to pay so much more per click to place their ads on game pages.

I describe the site as the blend of Facebook WordPress and Shopify, no offence meant to those awesome apps of course, but it helps to describe the "three course" serving we currently offer.

Essentially incorporates all three of these functions into a Performance Management Marketplace which serves (or hopefully will serve) Social Media Marketers, Online Merchants and of Course Groups or Individuals looking for connection and social gratification.

Unlike many major social media platforms however, aims to provide Social Marketers with Income Generating pages. For a small fee of under £1 per day, marketers can build content that pays them a revenue share.

The revenue share model is based around commission from promoting built in store sales, (Merchant Listings), dynamically served relevant ads from ad-networks and native lead generating advertiser pages. I do not know if this will be popular, but it is at least very exciting. But unlike the failed forebears of dot com stock boom and busted promises! this app, to "plug" Ron-seal, does exactly what it says on the tin!



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