Sinara at 30: our first office (1992 – 1994)
In 2019, Sinara Consultants are celebrating our 30th anniversary. This second post in a series to mark this milestone covers 1992 – 94, when Sinara established our first permanent office and started to specialise in software for financial market data.
Sinara has always been a leading indicator for the location of good value London office space. In 1992 we took out a five-year lease on an office in Bath Street, slightly north of the Old Street roundabout, just 16 years before this area was rebadged as Silicon Roundabout. Previously the vast majority of our project work was carried out on client sites, with the occasional fixed price project undertaken in a director’s bedroom. Having our own office was the initial step along the road to becoming a proper software company with employees, products, and a reputation. We would later discover the flipside with council bureaucracy and intransigent landlords getting in the way of writing software. Project work continued in parallel with property speculation. Capital House Investment Management discovered that their Capital Gains Tax system, having been in place for 9 years and 9 months, was hard-coded for a life-time of exactly 10 years. Steve proved that it could be fixed ensuring normal service could continue, well for another 10 years anyway.
In 1993 Caroline joined our engineering team as our first permanent employee. Prior to this, all Sinara’s project work had been carried out by the directors plus some associates from days gone by. Sinara has always treated the post-deployment support phase of any project very seriously, and the number of clients who continue to use our services is testimony to this. However in 1993 our support planning was found wanting on one occasion. Out of the blue in May, a telephone query was received from Edinburgh concerning Steve’s rescue work at Capital House Management the previous December 1992. For reasons best kept secret, Dennis and Phil thought it a good idea to pass this query on to Steve despite it being the day of his wedding in St Lucia. Surprisingly Steve’s wife does now talk to us occasionally.
1994 saw the completion of Sinara’s happy involvement with Exco and money broking, however new opportunities were grasped with old friends at ACT. We undertook a number of projects for them, at ACT’s nearby offices and also two fixed price projects at Sinara’s offices in Bath Street. Although we hadn’t set out to specialise we had now become very knowledgeable in certain areas, for example equity and derivative market data from the LSE and Liffe. Connectivity was another area of expertise, a field which has continued to flourish for Sinara, even though X25 and asynchronous serial i/o have in general now faded away. Working with established development teams on customer sites can be very rewarding; you are exposed to new ideas and ways of doing things. However it can also be a challenge. Even in 1994, the existence of a separate Link Team on a different floor of the office to whom you had to submit your compiled modules for building “when it could be scheduled” was a little archaic. Agile it most certainly was not.