Sinara at 30: the dot-com bubble (2000 to 2002)
In 2019, Sinara Consultants are celebrating our 30th anniversary. In a series of blog entries we look back on some of the events and projects over that time. This entry covers the new millennium when civilisation did not collapse, and when it seemed the dot-com bubble would last for ever.
Much to the media’s surprise the millennium bug proved benign, and the IT world concentrated on accelerating along the information superhighway. Everyone was looking for a killer financial application or portal and Sinara helped out by writing bespoke software and supplying our market data products. Although the financial status of some of these clients left a little to be desired, the future seemed bright indeed.
Sinara had always treated customer service very seriously, but it was around this time that we factored support into our costings and development practice more explicitly. We already had ongoing support contracts with our more established clients, and increased product sales added more pressure. As a result we set up a small but dedicated support desk, allowing our engineers to concentrate on software development. Of course, having established a support team we then needed to generate more support contracts so as to keep them busy.
Although with hindsight the dot-com bubble was deflating fast, there remained a general mood of optimism. By the end of 2001, Sinara’s Data Collection Engine (DCE) product had been licensed to and installed by 39 different customers in 9 European countries. The first (Europe Investor Direct in Sweden in 1999) didn’t stay the course, but some of these early adopters are still going strong today, obviously with more up-to-date versions of their Sinara software!
Our track record of delivery meant that our established clients continued to give us new projects to work on. They were sometimes interesting, sometimes more “we’re in a hole, can you please dig us out?” But we were confident of tackling most problems and so we did.
Providing share prices and related data to home users via the web was an attractive business model whilst stock markets moved ever upwards. But were 9 separate such web-sites sustainable in France alone? Once the dot-com balloon had truly burst, the answer was a resounding non, and Sinara’s active product licences reduced accordingly, although leaving us with a more financially stable group of clients. Sentiment had turned more generally and there seemed less enthusiasm to embark on new projects.
But new life is quick to flourish given an opportunity. There was still a place for market data distribution to the amateur enthusiast. For those of you who had ever wondered from where the BBC’s Ceefax service got their share prices, well now you know. Other mainstream organisations came on board, including Amex who continue to use our alerting software to track significant price movements.
On the office front Borough Market was becoming way too trendy, so it was time to discover the next “down now but soon to be up” location. You don’t have to go far to find such places in south London and the end of the year saw us move into the Blue Building just off Bermondsey Street.
By the end of 2002 Sinara Consultants had weathered the storm and was preparing for the next stage in the journey. Where would it lead?