Being Commercial with Thomas Adalbert
Thomas Adalbert has spent his commercial career developing products and businesses. In this podcast, we learn about his experiences, especially at Google who bought out one of the businesses he helped develop. He now sits on the advisory boards of 4 different companies.
Thomas always found it difficult to fathom the big company culture. He put it down to back-channels. It was about back-channelling – here’s an explanation of what Tom means…
What is back channelling? (for the full article click here)
Back channelling is the feedback which a listener gives to a speaker to show that (s)he is following, or understands what the speaker is saying.
The term back channel comes from the idea that every conversation operates in two directions – the primary “channel” of communication comes from the speaker to the listener, but there is another “channel” which comes back from the listener.
Did Graham Cause Tom’s Hair to Fall Out?
No. But this is what Tom said anyway.
Thomas set up The Preference Service – more of the mail you want, less of the mail you don’t want. It was about understanding people’s needs. The data deal did with Thomas and TPS and Royal Mail, which Graham had a lot to do with.
FinTech – lead generation online
Tom’s next move was BeatThatQuote. Rather than forcing people, it was all about figuring out what people were looking for. This blended tech and lead generation. It would be Tom’s 5th business. It was the first time when he went into the business that they would SELL the business to one of 3 businesses. They did exactly that.
They had tee’d up these potential buyers as they started the business.
The lesson was make sure all business partners know what your exit strategy at the start. Otherwise, you may have a messy divorce (like Brexit).
When Google Bought Tom’s Business He Had to Move to America
Tom likes Seattle. It feels like the UK. They are humorous, quick witted, passionate and funky. A cool city. The city is international too, with its spread of big companies.
He flipped on New York or Chicago and chose California.
What was Google like?
It was a bit like the film “The Intern”.
Very exciting driving a business proposition forward. You could do anything as long as it made sense. Go away and do it. His tech director told him it was like the Roman Empire. The coders were top echelon, product managers are citizens and everyone else who are the slaves. As a commercial person, you have to acknowledge the tech people run the show, but they’ve not always carried the general public. So many products were wasted. Tom saw P&L, they didn’t.
Google Wallet a $2bn product was ‘sunsetted’.
The Google name got Thomas into the biggest of big companies right into the C Suite. Easily.
His project at Google “Google Compare” came to a swift end in 2016. Tom is sanguine. They’ve spent more in fines than in tax. Compare was front and centre when it came to fines. They had a lot of backlash. Google just stepped away from the problem.
It was sunsetted.
The Price is Right
Graham lost a job with British American Tobacco. At a place where they recording The Price is Right. The queues of people waiting to get in to the recording studio contrasted well with the hordes of BAT sales people who had just lost their jobs to redundancy.
Tom also had a redundancy story when he worked for the Penthouse magazine. To say the least it was a pleasant experience for him.
Advisory Board Member
He has 4. British Pearl also.
It is not a Non executive Director. It is helping without fiduciary responsibility.
Listen to Anne Watson for the Non Executive Director podcast #86.
JustUs.co – This is a peer to peer lending business. There are some very influential business-people. Like Sir John Heggaty.
WebBoss – is a knock down version of WordPress. They work with Mirror Group to help small businesses put together websites.
Ralloo is Tom’s favourite. If you are looking to raise funds, Ralloo match sponsors and investors.