My kids call me Grom (Grumpy Old Man). OK, pedants will know that ought to be GOM, but a Grom sounds grumpy. I started building internet businesses in the 1980s and these days invest in other peoples' start-ups. Now that less of my life is about to happen than has happened, I've got a lot to get off my chest. This blog is a series of posts about things that annoy me, things that excite me or things that just need to be said. Grumbles of a Grom... Grombles
About 4 years ago I was contacted by a chap called Bob who lives in Western Australia. He'd never known the identity of his maternal grandfather until one of his sisters uploaded her DNA to Family Tree DNA. The report came back that it closely matched my mother's brother. Seems my grandfather, Simeon, had a 'relationship' with an 18 year-old waitress in Portsmouth in 1924 when my mother was 4 years old. He was a travelling salesman and Portsmouth was on his patch. We'll never know if he knew she became pregnant because the baby was given up to an orphanage. Shame on him if he knew and abdicated his responsibility. But we'll probably have to give him the benefit of the doubt, because it happened again to her a couple of years later with another unknown man.
Bob shared some pictures of his mother with me. She was the spitting image of my mum. They were without doubt half-sisters.
We never shared the news with my very old and frail mother. She'd never have und…
In 1926 New York, during Prohibition, 1,200 people were poisoned by whiskey containing small quantities of wood alcohol (methanol). Around 400 died, the rest were blinded. The methanol they drank was in the moonshine they had bought illegally. In fact it had been added by law to industrial ethanol in order to make it undrinkable. Prohibition existed to protect everyone from the 'evils of the demon drink'. However, people still wanted to enjoy alcohol. So bootleggers bought cheap industrial alcohol and attempted to distill it to remove the impurities the state had added, but the process wasn't regulated. The state was inadvertently responsible for the suffering - although it was easy for them to blame the bootleggers and to justify escalating the war.
This didn't stop the bootleggers. In fact it forced them to become more violent to protect their operations, and even less cautious about their production standards. Volumes of illicit alcohol, and therefore proportionatel…
Update: OK, so I was wrong.... We ended up with the largest Tory majority since Margaret Thatcher. In fact I got it badly wrong. Interestingly more people voted for Remain supporting parties than Leave, but our voting system distorts who gets into power.
However, the points I make below are still valid even if I wrongly predicted how strongly brainwashed the British public had become about being able to 'do a deal with the EU... and therefore expecting their newly elected leader, Boris Johnson, to "get on with it".
He won't, because he can't!
Free Trade Agreement for goods and services means we forever follow the EU's rules
We can't agree to do that (it's why we left)
So no FTA
[My original post starts here]
On the day of the Brexit referendum in 2016, I realised I'd had enough of being a Tory party member. Indeed I had, until that day, been a donor to party funds, such is my fear of socialists destroying yet another economy by promising illusory…
When you get in a mini cab, don't just sit there looking at your phone. Chat to the driver! He or she has a story you need to hear as you make your way to a warm home in the suburbs, an expensive restaurant, the theatre or a concert... which your drivers and their families can only ever dream about. It's not only courtesy to respect them as humans rather than vehicle accessories, it's an opportunity to learn about other countries, other cultures and to take a glimpse into what it's like to be a 'have not'. It's about respect and empathy.
By banning Uber from London, its socialist mayor, Sadiq Khan, is ironically removing one of the most powerful opportunities for privileged classes to meet and get to know, albeit briefly, the very people he is dedicated to helping. When else do we have the opportunity to hear their stories? We're trapped in a metal box for up to an hour or so. Instead of rudely ignoring them, we should be finding out why they're mini…
I recently gave a presentation using my personal career journey to illustrate how the acquisition of experience over time enabled me to become increasingly useful to a broadening variety of businesses:-
Non Executive Director
There is plenty of overlap between each of these chapters. I have, and continue to form my own companies, invest in lots more, and mentor even more. So it's not a simple consecutive flow. However, what it does represent is an accumulation of sufficient experience and confidence to progress through each stage before exploring the next.
There's no way, for example, that I could have been a successful entrepreneur without having first gained experience by working for someone else. Equally I didn't have the breadth of experience of other people's companies to feel confident about investing in them without first getting to know many of them through mentoring. Perhaps not the same ones I inve…
I have been building companies in the software services sector for
over 30 years. Basically there are two types of companies selling such
services. Those who offer proprietary products (ie everyone gets the
same thing, today usually known as Software as a Service or SaaS), and
those who offer bespoke solutions (ie they will build what you need...
or at least you hope they will). India for example is awash with firms
offering bespoke development. SaaS is far cheaper to buy and use than
Bespoke and will be easier and more reliable to operate long term. But
SaaS offerings usually won't do everything you require, and they're all
available to your competitors. However, commissioning bespoke software
is complicated to do
well and always painful.
There are countless examples of governments
spending fortunes on projects that overrun and sometimes have to be
cancelled. It happens a lot in industry as well, but you don't hear
about them for obvious reasons. The bigges…
Anyone who walks across Westminster Bridge next to the Houses of Parliament in London will have experienced small groups of people playing the betting game that uses three cups and a ball. The ball is placed under one cup (apparently), the cups are moved around, and passing tourists are invited to guess which cup the ball is under. Most people apparently guess correctly and have their money doubled... these are members of the same gang as the person doing the trick. At some point the gang will be told that the trickster has palmed the ball and will be waiting for 'the mark', probably a tourist, to make their guess in the belief that several 'ordinary' people before them have made easy money. They always lose, perhaps not with their first bet - so suckering them into making larger bets, but the whole theatre is designed to extract money from gullible tourists.
It's a very old con trick. In Romania it's known as Alba-Neagra. The team members also have names. Ther…