Born in London, on 5th May 1956, I was adopted at six weeks old and moved to Belfast, Northern Ireland, where I spent the next 18 years growing up in that beautiful but troubled province. After so many years of strife, it is encouraging to see all side reach agreement on power sharing.
I'm not the Colin Crawford who wrote "Inside the UDA: Volunteers and Violence"
My early education over a 10-year period at Campbell College, and Cabin Hill in Belfast provided a broad perspective on life.
Academic learning was complemented with plenty of sport (Rugby, Squash, Swimming, and Shooting) and many other extra-curricular activities including the Combined Cadet Force (CCF). As Coxswain of the Navy section one of the more memorable activities involved navigating a Minesweeper through severe gales off the coast of Northern Ireland with the Royal Navy Reserves.
The history and natural beauty of the island plus the warmth of the people are remarkable and I retain many fond memories of Ireland, both North and South.
Standing at the top on Slieve Donard in the Mourne Mountains looking down to the sea; a romantic week in a cottage in Ballyconneeley in Connemara; cheering the Irish Rugby team in action at Lansdowne Road; listening to Van Morrison and Rory Gallagher at the King’s Hall Belfast are just a few images permanently etched in my mind.
In 1999 I returned for the first time in 15 years took the opportunity to show off my past haunts to the family.
Unfortunately I lost some good friends to the violence that has gripped Ireland for too long. I hope that at last, peace will be given a chance.
If you get the chance to visit Northern Ireland - go, you won't be disappointed.
At eighteen, felling a little claustrophobic and to broaden my outlook on life I elected to continue my education at the University of Kent, at Canterbury in the Southeast of England about 60 miles outside London.
A degree in Accounting proved a little tedious so I complemented this with a major in Computing, learning how to program in Cobal, Fortran and early modeling languages such as ICL's Prosper.
That decision set the path of my future career - combining business skills with a love of the computer industry.
To fund my social activities at College, I worked part-time at a Pizza restaurant, Sweeney Todds. The important skill of making Pizza dough is still tested regularly.
Following graduation I moved to London to start a career in Accountancy, believing that wherever I might end up, having solid business and financial skills would help.
In 1984, I left Deloitte Haskins and Sells to join an entrepreneurial start-up, Meltek Data a company specializing in the maintenance of computer disk drives. This was the era when Control Data Systems dominated the market and a 300 MB drive cost over $40,000!
The company was run by a tough, driven individual, Alan Mosley who got his training in the Special Air Services (SAS) and who taught me more about the realities of business than any college professor.
After leaving Meltek, in 1987 instead of rejoining my old mentor Simon Law (RIP), http://www.mebodybuilding.com/articles/
bodybuilding/bodybuilding-article-1764-1.htm), I joined Dennis Publishing Ltd. in London and following a stint as their Financial Director became their Managing Director. The Chairman, Felix Dennis, whose infamy started as a defendant in the famous "OZ" trial, has a reputation, not only for leading an outrageous lifestyle but also for being one of the greatest independent magazine publishers in the world. He has now successfully turned his attention to writing poetry and teaching people how to get rich. http://bit.ly/rR7UY
Dennis Publishing publishes MacUser UK, Computer Shopper and a few years ago launched Maxim Magazine, which, under the excellent leadership of Steve Colvin, redefined the men's magazine segment in the US. Maxim was sold in 2007 to Quadrangle for approx $250MM.
Felix's management style is on the unorthodox side. He tends to drive people occasionally to total frustration but more often to greatness. (It was good training for my future encounters with Apple!!)
Felix not only taught me about the magazine business but also proved to me, that to truly succeed a magazine must not just have great editorial, design and a good business model - it must have passion and truly understand and interact with its readership.
The six crazy years at Dennis Publishing, launching and developing magazines and surviving outrageous company parties were some of the best of my career. I'm grateful for Felix's faith in me then and his friendship today.
The experience at Dennis Publishing led me to accept a position at Macworld US, one of the IDG subsidiaries, where I became CEO in 1994. In 1997, I ran the Mac Publishing Joint Venture between ZD Inc. and IDG Inc, which merged Macworld and MacUser magazines. Macworld magazine now has a readership of over million and the online sites add about the same number again.
Macworld, launched with the Mac on 24th January 1984, today enjoys a worldwide reputation with several local language versions around the world, trade Expos, a range of Macworld books and extensive online activities.
Somehow, I've lasted through all the changes at Apple and the industry. I've had the unique opportunity to deal with all Apple's CEOs and with an industry full of strong personalities and tremendous talent. One of the most memorable events was the Macworld Expo Boston keynote - see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJs6MB077Bw
The Mac market is truly unique and having been through some of the industry's toughest years it is a vindication of my faith in Apple and the platform to see the current resurgence. Going forward I expect to see Apple lead in technologies based around "the digital lifestyle of the connected consumer".
In March of 2003, I left Macworld to move across to IDG's Management Team as VP Business Development with a focus on new business initiatives, especially in the online space taking on the newly created position of SVP Online, IDG Communications in late 2005.
During the last few year I have helped IDG transition from being a print to online and interactive media company. I also headed up the launch of IDG Connect, IDG's centralized lead generation business.
I'm now moving across to the world of venture capital, assisting IDG Ventures San Francisco in their assessment of exciting investment opportunities. The goal to ultimately become more deeply involved with one of these entrepreneurial start-ups
Occasionally, I get to relax in my home of San Francisco, with my patient and understanding and wonderful wife Sue of 23 years plus three sons, Christopher 21, William, 19 and Charlie 11. I get tremendous pleasure from watching their growth and development and value the balance between my work and family life.
I enjoy Scuba diving with a great club in San Francisco, sculling with Open Water Rowing in Sausalito and playing Squash at the San Francisco Bay Club.
10+ years ago for my 40th Birthday the Macworld executive management team arranged for me to take up sky diving. I'm still not sure of the message they were trying to convey but the thrill of that Accelerated Free Fall from 14,000 was quite unbelievable. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7DuLb3UvQ4
However, after several jumps, my family, who appeared to be more nervous about the whole experience than I, persuaded me that the combination of motorcycle riding plus skydiving was not good for the insurance policies.
As I look back over the last four decades, I consider myself extremely fortunate. As a kid in Belfast I would never have dreamed it would be possible to end up in the heart of Silicon Valley during some of the most exciting times in the computer industry.
I look forward to the journey ahead.
Networking, online business models, squash, scuba, skiing, music and movies