Case Studies

Fetch.ai
(2017 - 19)
Grapeshot, acquired by Oracle
(2014 - 16)
CDK Global
(2011 - 12)
Webmetrics, acquired by Neustar
(2007 - 09)
Midentity
(2002 - 05)



Fetch.ai (2017 - 2019)

With a huge, colossally exciting vision of autonomous agents acting on behalf of humans, Machine Learning (ML), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Decentralised Ledger Technology (DLT), Fetch.ai had all the buzz words tipped into one company.

With Arthur as Head of Investor Relations, Fetch.ai raised a Series A round of $15m in the summer of 2018. Fetch.ai went on to have an Initial Coin Offering (ICO), raising a further $6m in February 2019. Four days later the FET token (ie our own cryptocurrency) listed on the world's largest cryptocurrency exchange, Binance. Within hours, the price had ballooned to over six times the sale price earlier in the week.

Back in 2017, Arthur joined entrepreneur, Humayun Sheikh, in two of his ventures as their respective Product Manager:


These two companies joined to form Fetch.ai when the three founders below brought their ideas together:

Fetch.ai's vision was far-reaching and profound: a decentralised network of autonomous agents (representing humans and physical assets or data) interacting and solving sophisticated, multi-party optimisation dilemmas efficiently, with payment being made in Fetch.ai Tokens (ie our own cryptocurrency).

As the company grew from a handful of people, Arthur took on a variety of roles in addition to Product Management (product proposition, business model and go-to-market strategy):

The role of fund-raising for a decentralised Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) business came to dominate Arthur's responsibilities. Due to its terrific vision and credentials of the founders and the impressive capabilities of the assembled team, Fetch.ai raised $15m privately from specialist blockchain investors during the Spring 2018. Most of this was raised in Ethereum, one of the foremost cryptocurrencies.

Subsequently, in February 2019, Fetch.ai held an Initial Coin Offering (ICO). The sale of $6m worth of Fetch.ai token completed in 22 seconds. This is even more impressive when each contributor is limited to a maximum of $3k worth of FET (the name of the Fetch.ai tokens), meaning that over 2,700 individuals participated.

Four days later, the FET token was listed on Binance (see current FET token price), world’s biggest crypto exchange. Within hours of initial trading, the FET token had rocketed to six times the sale price earlier on in the week. The FET token was subsequently listed on a dozens of other exchanges.


A note on Tokenised Business Models

Fetch.ai, like many tokenised businesses, builds open-sourced software, which is gifted to the world for free. Fetch.ai have no revenue model - indeed its business model would struggle if it ever receive income. Its aim to reach operational break-even and no more.

Sounds crazy? This is how this unique business model works

If two autonomous agents wish to interact to buy an asset from one to another, they have to have an understanding of fair market value. Fetch.ai, having access to the whole history of transactions, is able to predict the average price of such a transaction. Additionally, Fetch.ai will be able to make an introduction to relevant market participants for which a tiny fee will be charged. The more transactions on the Fetch.ai network, the more accurate those predictions will be and the more valuable that they will become. As a result, the value of the Fetch.ai token will increase. It is this token price increase will enables the open-source business to fund its operation and future development.

By listing on cryptocurrency exchanges, Fetch.ai is able to sell its token (and even buy back its token) at its choosing. Every day, it is able to sell enough token to pay for that day's expenses, for example.


Use Cases


Grapeshot, acuqired by Oracle (2014 - 16)

Arthur joined Grapeshot as a Product Marketing Manager in a classic, highly technical software company. Grapeshot's raw technology analyses web content and determines context (eg Sports - Football vs Fashion - Men's). This knowledge can be used for targeting by brands, agencies and content publishers to buy or sell display advertising space programmatically to maximise returns.

The product management and the product marketing function was executed by the super capable CEO. However, as the company grew, the CEO had less time to bridge the commercial gap between the sales & account teams and the engineering teams.

Engineering to Sales  "The commercial teams don't understand what the product can do."
"They ask strange questions, indicating they don't understand how the product works."
Sales and Account Management to Development HQ "Only our smartest customers are able to get the commercial benefits from the latest release."
"We can't explain the results that our customers are getting."
"It takes ages to get new account managers up to to speed on the product, never mind our customers."

Arthur set to work by improving the sales literature for multiple products. In splitting his time between the engineering centre in Cambridge and the sales and service HQ in central London, he was able to understand the pain points experienced by customers and their account teams. The issues raised were solved either by on-the-spot training and/or improved product materials or fed back to engineering as product enhancement requests.

It quickly became apparent that product management was lacking at Grapeshot: the focus and emphasis of product development was directed by Engineering team themselves - and not surprisingly, they tackled the issues (as they saw them) or 'interesting', preferably both.

Arthur orchestrated the portfolio of major enhancements and planned the product roadmap in conjunction with all other stakeholders with the following objectives: improving product completeness (ie a product release is more than just working code) and product quality, improving product launch processes and likelihood of success measured by usage rates and revenue.

Grapeshot was subsequently acquired by Oracle in May 2018 - see press release.


 

CDK Global (2011 - 12)

Arthur was introduced to CDK Global by Garry Avery of Tarigo, who provide training and consultancy for product managers in UK and across Europe. CDK Global provides software for car showrooms and car service centres: a comprehensive CRM + ERP + accounting behemoth. The company was founded 25 years ago and their software was installed in over 90 countries in 9 languages.

The latest release of CDK's flagship software was under development and edging towards release. The UK market represented the largest and most advanced market and the first to receive the product as GA (Generally Available). The UK's policies for the new release would set the precedent for the rest of the world. In May 2011, there were a significant number of commercial issues that had not yet addressed - simply the UK business unit was concentrating on their existing business which was exceeding all financial expectations.


Readiness Assessment

The Managing Director of the UK business unit, Simon Wardle, asked Arthur to produce a Product Release Checklist in order for him and his management team to assess their readiness and the product's readiness for release. When this Checklist was circulated, the results were mixed, as you would expect, as some business functions were nearly complete, whereas some had only just started. More disturbingly, when challenged how the 'holes' in the Product Checklist would be filled, the majority of the answers were either 'I don't know' or 'Same as last time, I guess'.

 

Appointment of Product Release Director

Simon, the CDK's Managing Director, shared Arthur's concern that 'business as yesterday' would not be satisfactory and invited Arthur to become the Product Release Director to corral all the business functions together to bring this release to fruition.

 

Key Challenges / Factors

A number of issues made this release more critical:

 

Tactical Deliverables

 

Notable features of this project

The original 20 day brief changed into 10 month consultancy project which resulted in a high profile release in early February 2012. This proved to be a fascinating project due to:

 

 


 

Webmetrics, acquired by Neustar (2007 - 09)

Arthur joined Webmetrics in April 2007 as Product Manager, having relocating to San Diego, California. Webmetrics provides a range of services for performance monitoring and load testing of web applications and web ecosystems, delivered as a Software as a Service (SaaS). At that point, Webmetrics was a privately-held, profitable, 8 year old company with about 20 employees and hundreds of paying customers.

The product management role had been vacant for some six months and the PM function had lapsed onto CEO, the Engineering Director and the Head of Sales, Marketing and Strategy. As a result of this vacancy and (to a lesser extent) competitive behaviour, the product road mapping had become very short term and focussed on the retention of current customers. Product management had become a matter of providing the functionality demanded by the last (or loudest) customer that sales or customer support had spoken to.

Arthur quickly grasped that the most significant requirement (on top of learning how the product works) was to improve the product marketing of the existing product set: product collaterals, corporate and product presentations, product positioning and competitive intelligence etc. Improving all these areas helped many functional groups within the company, but most particularly, the sales team, as it shortened the sales cycle and accelerated new sales guys up the learning curve. It solidified proper customer expectations (and internal expectations too!).

Interspersed with product marketing was the more practical requirements of a major new product release: management of a beta program and associated competitive positioning and outbound communication. This new product became a new and very compelling differientiator in Webmetrics marketplace. At a higher level, product strategy and product roadmapping became increasingly important, as company was no longer in 'latest crisis' mode and could realistically execute on a longer term strategy. Additionally, Arthur jumped in and powered the marketing function too: website redesign, PR releases, media and analyst calls.

In January 2008, Webmetrics was acquired by Neustar, a New York Stock Exchange listed company (NYSE: NSR). Neustar has a diverse portfolio of internet and mobile technologies, but was originally founded to provided the technical directory for telephone calls in the US. Webmetrics, as a provider of performance management services, was most closely aligned to a previous acquisition of UltraDNS, a high performance DNS management service.

Post-acquisition, Arthur quickly became responsible for injecting the Webmetrics product line into the Neustar sales channel. This proved to be more significant task than initially presumed, as the Neustar sales team was considerably more inexperienced with internet technology (and web performance in particular) and value-based selling.

Arthur relocated back to Ireland, and back to Cambridge, UK in June 2008 and continued his role. Additionally, he spent one day a week in the London office, training the European Sales office on the product set and its market and Webmetrics' positioning. Increasingly, Arthur felt the strain of telecommuting across the 8 hour time difference between UK and West Coast USA, working from midday to midnight (and beyond). With some regret, he left to join VentureNavigator, a 10 minute pedal from one side of Cambridge to the other.

 


 

Midentity (2002 - 05)

In February 2002, Arthur helped to found Midentity, a personal digital identity provider, based near Cambridge, UK.

Whilst working in partnership with Entrepreneurship Centre at Cambridge Judge Business School, Arthur met Simon Grice, its CEO: Arthur liked Simon's ideas and Simon liked the way Arthur thought. Together, they took the ideas and created a new business in the exciting, new sector of personal digital identity. The concept was fundamentally that of Facebook's platform which launched several years later, but with a much stronger emphasis on strong privacy controls and closely linked to mobile phone use.

They significantly refined the fledging concept so advanced and innovative that it was unrealistic in the near term as a practical (and investable) business strategy. A multi-year product road map was laid out with achievable, market-orientated, revenue-generating services:

Following a Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) award for product innovation, Midentity successfully trialled its concept and raised seed investment from angel investors and well-known internet and mobile luminaries, Esther Dyson and Ray Anderson, in Q4 2002. This was a period when raising money for internet and mobile business was 'challenging' to say the least. Arthur took on the responsibility of Product Manager.

Midentity went from strength to strength: employees were recruited, services were launched, distribution agreements were signed with BT (British Telecommunications) and a number of other service providers. Further funding rounds were completed whilst the user base continued to grow.

With the company having raised another £1m investment (with revenues of the same magnitude), and with the business and product strategy largely determined, Arthur believed his job was done. He decided to leave Midentity at Christmas 2005 to seek new challenges.

Ultimately Midentity failed in late 2006 as BT failed to launch the service to its UK market, because the key BT executive sponsor was fired some weeks before BT's launch of Midentity to its UK user base. Once again, a start-up's fears about partnering with a much bigger company were clearly justified!