the .COM boom…

Tuesday, 07. 5. 2011  –  Category: Web / Software development

I moved from Leicester to London in the summer of 1997, working as a Designer with a small web development company based in leafy Holland Park, London called KBW. If memory serves (which it often doesn’t) I was around employee 12 and one of the few who didn’t graduate from Oxbridge. The smarts did show however and they were a clever lot, particularly founders Nat Billington and Lorenzo Wood who, in retrospect, were years ahead of their time in terms of envisaging what the internet (this was before it was called ‘the web’) was capable of.

Some time in 1998, KBW joined forced with Oyster Systems to become Oyster Partners, who along with the likes of Online Magic, AKQA and Razorfish, went on to become one of the big web development hitters in Europe. The extensive client list included EasyJet, No. 10 Downing Street and Unilever, and that was just during my time there. What Oyster did really well was recognise that there was more to web design than pretty, interactive brochureware. They were one of the first agencies, to my knowledge, who took into account clients long term business objectives, corporate strategy and approach to stakeholder communications. They understood how the web could add value as an interactive channel coexisting alongside other parts of the business such as face to face. ‘Service Design’ before Service Design… but that’s another story.

leaving card from Oyster Partners

ahhh... they were sad to see me go (some of them ;-)

1998 was probably just before the much fabled ‘.COM boom’, which I think is considered to have kicked off the following year. It was a crazy time. The internet was the great white hope and VC’s were throwing money at statups with ideas like dogfoodtoyourdoor.com. I remember sitting on the tube and noticing that every one of the small rectangular advertising boards which were positioned along each carriage at eye height was for a .COM. Fun though…

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