Busy week

It’s been a busy week.

On Monday I had an early meeting with Simon McGivern, CEO of a company called Ila. I invested in them quite a while back and I hadn’t thought much of it – they had done well. Simon showed me their range of security products. They included a padlock with letter instead of numbers. Simon assured me that it had been carefully set up to ensure that you couldn’t enter rude words, which I thought was a shame.

I spent the rest of the day talking about my plans to set up a technology park close to the M25. I’m searching for the right venue.

On Wednesday I had a board meeting at Swindon FC – I left early to get there for a 10:30 start. I’d been in the meeting for half an hour when my phone went crazy with calls and texts – I had forgotten that I had an 11 a.m. board meeting with BettorLogic back at the farm, with several people having travelled long distances to be there. I made quick and profuse apologies and returned to the Swindon board room. In the evening I went to the EGR awards in London and sat at one of the four Betfair tables. I mentioned the mix up – CFO Stephen Morana said that was just a small mix up by my standards and recalled a story from a few years back.

Betfair has a business registered in Malta and every couple of months a team of the Betfair execs including Stephen and me would head out there for a board meeting. Some of the Malta exec had never spent time in our head office in Hammersmith, so one month for a change we arranged for the Malta team to fly over to London – two of them were too busy to come so we set up a video conference link. At the London board there was a slight delay as they couldn’t find me – they turned on the video link and there I was sitting in the Malta office, having travelled over at the same time as the Malta team were coming the other way.

Betfair won three awards and I headed back home in the early hours.

Thursday kicked off with a board meeting at GolfBidder. GolfBidder was the first significant investment I made when I first sold Betfair shares back in 2003 – at the time they were burning cash at a rate of knots but I thought they had the profile of a great business in the making. It took a couple of years from there to reach profitability, but since reaching the milestone the company has progressed year in year out to the point where the business feels mature, but still with a huge amount of growth opportunity.

Liam (CEO and Brother-in-law) ran us through the latest developments. Internet channels driving a lot of business – campaigns on Facebook, Google remarketing, YouTube, Twitter etc. all proving successful. Major growth in Europe – Scandinavia particularly strong and about to launch in Finnish. Second product site – www.tacklefanatics.com – well ahead of forecast. Everything doing extremely well despite the recession and the fact that the wider golf industry has been in decline. A joy to behold – if only all companies were like Golfbidder.

I was back at the farm in the afternoon for the reconvened Bettorlogic board. I own Bettorlogic outright – they were also burning cash at a rate of knots when I got involved, and although the flow has been stemmed significantly they are still not quite at breakeven. Profitability shouldn’t be far away now and once we achieve that we ought to be able to push on – I live in hope.

I have a runner today – Theophrastus goes in a hot race at Newbury (1:30). He’d probably like it softer – he’s he type to thrive in a real slog. He has a good attitude and he might surprise – I’ll be hoping as always but I won’t be having a large bet.