This ten year period covers my first venture as a consultant, which in turn led to me being part of other ventures too.
Project Management Consultancy 1988 - 1994
- Managing Director
PMC - Founded by my Wife Elaine and I, Project Management Consultancy was one of the first specialist entertainment software consultancies established in Europe. We offered Publishers and Developers alike low cost, flexible solutions to help their businesses grow. We worked on the premise that an experienced third-party can often be more objective about a company’s particular situation or specified problem, than the company itself may be able to be.
My role varied according to the needs of our clients; a variety of short-term project assignments, as well as longer term retainers. The tasks undertaken included:
Executive Producer – where client had contracted with one or more third-parties in the UK and required an expert to oversee the development process, including regular project management and evaluations of work in progress.
Game Designer – client typically had a property, such as a movie, for which they required a suitable treatment in the form of a game design
Expert Opinion – client sought advice on how to improve efficiency in the development process. PMC developed a series of solutions based around client requirements, and put together a Development Discipline as solution. This often included evaluation of client employees also
Developer – client would ask PMC to propose original projects designed by PMC for client to commission. Once commissioned, PMC would act as developer and deliver finished product to client for publication
Representation – client would hire PMC to represent it’s product or service to the entertainment industry
Troubleshooting – client was experiencing problems getting a project completed, typically relations with a third-party developer had broken down. PMC would act as mediator, successfully getting the product completed, and where necessary, hiring and coordinating additional expertise to assist the completion
During this time our clients included: Activision International Ltd (UK), Argonaut Software Ltd (UK), Attention To Detail Ltd (UK), BITS Ltd (UK), Eurocom Developments Ltd (UK), Konix Products Ltd (UK), Linel (Switzerland), LucasArts Inc. (USA), Marjacq Micro Ltd (UK), Microprose Europe Ltd (UK), Mirrorsoft Ltd (UK), Mindscape International Ltd (UK), New Frontier Productions Ltd (UK), Philips Media Inc. (USA), Probe Ltd (UK), System 3 Software Ltd (UK), Takara Ltd (Japan & USA), The Disc Company (France), The Motion Picture House (UK), US Gold Ltd (UK) and Vivid Image Developments (UK)
Argonaut 1992 - 1993 - General Manager
I ended up spending a lot of time at one client, Argonaut. They were one of the best established British entertainment software developers, having specialized in 3D technologies, making a name for themselves with the first 3D game for the Atari ST, "Starglider". Under their entrepreneurial founder, Jez San, in 1992 the company embarked on the design of custom 3D chips for video game consoles and PCs, most notably the SFX chip for Nintendo. At this time, I was hired as a consultant to assist in the management of their on-going software projects. We recommended a restructuring of Argonaut’s business, which led to my full-time involvement with the company for 15 months as General Manager of the software division.
During this time, PMC was still going, and in the years that followed, we either sold (and then bought back) or partnered with other companies to develop products. Among those were:
Sprytes 1993 - 1994 - Managing Director
Sprytes was a software studio in Leeds owned by Global Entertainment. For them we opened a studio in Newbury, England, undertook some conversions, but primarily we were designing new IP targeted at the emerging new area of PC based "multimedia"!
Creative Insights 1994 - 1995 - VP Game Development, MD Europe
Funded as a start-up operation by Creative Technologies, CI had three distinct product lines – musical instrument peripherals for personal computers (including a self-teach piano, and a drum kit), computer toys (hardware driven novelty screen-save devices), and computer games.
Creative Insights acquired PMC post Sprytes, and in addition to my running the day to day operation of CI UK, I took over from Joe Ybarra, from whom I enjoyed tremendous support, as Vice-President of Game Development, with responsibility for the game development operation in Cupertino, California as well.
Crush! 1995 - 1998
- Managing Director
Following the buy-back of the business from CI, I conceived of a ‘big idea’, a series of on-line and retail projects which became known as the ‘Nation’ range, and which would require investment to bring to market.
So I set about finding a backer to invest in the company. Our first investor was a local businessman, and with his help I negotiated with a major Japanese corporation and agreed terms for over £1 million investment, and a new business was formed, Crush! Holdings, which in turn acquired the assets and business of Crush! Ltd.