Ned and George Interview – Tony Clare

for-george-003.jpgWhat is your role in betfair?
My role is product manager. I manage a team, and its our job to deliver all the products that make up the whole overall offering as it is, so that€™s controlling the site from the original idea, through the design and through the validation of the ideas to the final delivery.

What was your first experience of betfair as a website?
My first experience of betfair was in September 2000 just after the site launched. I stumbled across it when I had some spare time; I liked it and started using it a bit.

You invested in betfair before you came to work for them, why did you do that?
When they first start using the site, I think people either get the idea of betfair or they don€™t and one of our jobs is to try to get people to pick it up as quickly as possible.
I kind of got it straight away. I used to be a trader in the city and it all seemed very intuitive, and I thought this is a great idea.

As I started betting more and having more money on deposit, it occurred to me that that wasn€™t a particularly clever thing to do with a website set up by some people that I€™d never met and didn€™t know if I could trust, so I set up a meeting, and gave them a call. I came in to meet them and it was just really obvious that they knew what they were doing. I had a chance to invest shortly after that and I took it.

You joined the company as an employee at the end of last year €“ why did you do this?
I quit my city job at the beginning of 2002 and I had been making my living by betting on betfair since then. I used to come in, or ring up, talk to Bert and talk to various people and I€™d whine about all the things that I though betfair should be doing or that they were doing wrong.

Eventually Bert palmed me off to David Yu, David palmed me off to Rorie, and then Rorie eventually connected me to Anil, who suggested that if I thought things should be done differently, why didn€™t I come and do it, which seemed like a good idea at the time.

You have always been a regular in the betfair forum, how do your reconcile that with the fact that you now work for betfair?
I think that been fairly easy. I met up with probably a dozen of the regular forum users that used the section of the forum that I most regularly used, which is general betting. I met with them just before Christmas which was the week that I started at betfair, and I came out and said openly up front that I€™m now working at the company.

That€™s been relatively straight forward.
I think a bigger issue for me was when I had a connection to the company as a shareholder and posted it on the forum. That€™s always a difficult situation because there€™s no right moment in which to say hello I€™m a shareholder. Eventually you have to come clean.

What would you say are the most challenging parts of your job?
The most challenging part of my job is definitely the implementation line. There are loads of good ideas, and having good ideas is relatively easy.

The difficult bit is getting things implemented. We have an engineering process and sometimes it feels really ownerless and really slow to get things done, but at the same time the site is so sensitive. If we mess up or if the site goes down we let down our customers and they get angry and upset.

The process has to be tight, but tight is also slow, which is frustrating because we love to get all the good ideas that we€™ve got out on the site. Some take weeks and others take months, and that€™s frustrating.


Ned and George