Monthly Archives: May 2010

Belly and Brain going to the Awards

At Just-Eat we are very proud of our two mascots, Belly & Brain, and now we actually have a bit of external love for these carachters as well. And I am not talking about the nearly 100,000 people who have seen the UK version of the 2 first commercials, but the fact that we have been shortlisted for the Thinkbox Award in the UK as “best use of tv for response”. Not bad given that there were hundreds of that kind of commercials the last 12 months.

Cross your fingers, hopefully Mat and his team can collect an award a month from now. We are not quite in Hollywood yet, but given this was our first major TV commercial, then I think we did a pretty good job. Well done us!

World Party 2010

Once a year, we get all full-time employees together for a big, social event. It becomes more and more complex (and expensive) as the company grows, but it is really worth it, and it is increasingly important as more and more colleagues are added to the ranks of Just-Eat cadres.

This year, nearly 140 people from many different countries met in Center Parcs, Elveden Forrest, North of Cambridge, UK. Centre Parcs is a big area with hundreds of small houses, where people can engage in all kinds of activities, or just relax by the lakeside. For two days focus was on getting to know each other, which is essential in a high growth company with many challenges that needs to be solved on a team basis every day. Fixing difficult issues is so much easier, if we all have a good understanding of each other, and trust in the many informal relations within the company – this is a big part of our backbone.

Before we got going, we of course first had to be properly dressed, so we could do a bit of PR for smart takeaway ordering – below is Mike showing his similarity to Belly.

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As the first activities, we all in the best Just-Eat style had to choose between doing …

… archery, …

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… laser combat, …

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… or paintball (no pictures, too violent).

Other skills were also shown, and we are an open and creative company, so that is all fine.

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Later on it was party times, with some dressing down (Tech) …

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… and some looking somewaht more chic.

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It is too much to go into all details of the event, but it was really a good event. The fantastic weather helped a lot of course, but big thanks to Mike and especially Amy for organising the whole thing.

And here we all are, anno May 2010.

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Next year we will be even more, and hopefull just as cheerfull.

Mingling with the Index’s

Sometimes people ask me why we choose Index Ventures as the VC, when we took funding in 2009, and I usually give them the song and dance about Index’s good track record, nice people, right investor approach bla-bla, but in reality, it was because I desperately wanted to go to the annual Index CEO event! And this year, it happened last week, where around 40 people or so went to Babbington House in Somerset, UK. Was it all worth it? Absolutely, every penny.

Babington is a nice place, but the real thing was of course to be together with people that I really enjoy spending time together with. Focus was on the social side, and especially the football match, the many chit-chats and the poker tournament in the evening were highlights of the event for me. Some of the participants I knew already, but several extra has been added to my LinkedIn profile after last week. The Index’s are very good at creating a cool family atmosphere for the portfolio companies, which in some ways is an intangible asset, but still very valuable.

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Poker in the dark

So, if you have a good digital business going, then maybe we will meet in May next year!

All those that came before us

Last weekend I went to the Science Museum in London with my family. I love that museum, and I have love it ever since I visited first time more than 30 years ago. This time I noticed something I hadn’t noticed before: the Pegasus computer from 1959. Take a look at it here:

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And then check the performance of this creature:

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I am not really the first to pinpoint the fantastic evolution in computer power over the last two generations (Moore’s Law and all that),  but it is still fascinating to think about when confronted with some of the basic stats. This monster of a machine, that cost so much money (£45t 50 years ago was a lot of money) had no chance of outperforming my first Palm (from 1997), and the performance compared to today’s standard PC’s is without meaning. It is like comparing fungi with humans – or Liechtensteins football team with Brazil.

So, just a small thank from me to all of those hard working, smart and creative people that has made a business like Just-Eat possible by assuring ever stronger number crunchers. Well done, keep up the good work.

Finally in Oslo

We opened our Norwegian service for online takeaway ordering at the end of November last year, and even though I have been together with Lars Ødegaard (our NO country manager) many times, I have never been to our Oslo office due to various bad excuses that lead me to cancel trips to Oslo (sick, things I had to take care of, bla-bla). So, it was with great pleasure I finally met the Norwegian team at their office in Lillestrøm (just North of Oslo), which in traditional Just-Eat style is a humble adress with low rents, since we prefer to spend our money on other things than office costs.

Our Nowegian colleagues are working hard to make Just-Eat as successful in Norway as in other countries, and they are off to a good start. We soon have 150 restaurants online and orders are coming nicely. Online ordering in Norway is nothing new, but our approach, where we aggregate different restaurants with different cuisines is not seen before. Soon the e-commerce savvy Norwegians will know about it.

Lars and the rest of the NO team are dedicated in their work, and as can be seen on the below picture, the most important thing right now is not to have a clean and well-structured desk, but to focus on growing restaurants and orders -;)

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Throwing stones in Stockholm

In Just-Eat we love to work together with entrepreneurs that build great companies. We consider ourselves to be pretty good entrepreneurs, but we also know that it is good for us to mingle and learn from other entrepreneurs. One of our partners is OnlinePizza, which runs the leading Swedish site for online ordering (and also a newly launched Polish site), and we have have been partners with them for about a year now.

A few days ago I visited their newe HQ in Stockholm. I don’t see these guys enough, which is a great pity, so it was good to spend some time together. It is all very fine with skype calls etc., but nothing beats a good handskake and a dunk in the back. Part of the meeting was to settle a couple of outstanding issues of which the most important one was: who can throw a stone the longest?

I am the Just-Eat champion, and since we/Just-Eat see ourselves as the best, I should of course be able to beat the Swedes. However, OnlinePizza has Per which is a pretty big bloke that has played handball and volleyball for many years, so the contest was a bit more tough than I had planned.

The first throw went well (I wun), and the second was “kind of” a draw. But the last two throws Per wun with increasingly larger margin to me. It is actually the first time ever I have met a person that threw a stone longer than me, so I was of course a bit shocked and tried to come up with verious excuses, but the conclusion unfortunately is that I lost. Respect to Per and OP for that.

And that story might explain the big smile on the face of Dan and Niklas – bandits as they are.

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Who cares about Facebook?

FB is big, very big. The first time I logged onto FB was in the late autumn of 2005. Back then the hype had started, and within a couple of years they gained massive momentum, but personally I don’t really use this modern Wonder of a social network. And I still only use it quite limited, and pretty much only to make sure I know how one of the most important “platforms” operates and develops, it kind of comes with the job. Also, the kids will probably use it big time, and soon you will probably not exist as a person if you are not on FB.

The reason why I don’t use it that much p.t.  (contrary to LinkedIn where I care about my profile) is not that I can not see how smart all the functions are. Absolutely not, FB is highly addictive, and it is extremely smart for mingling, virtual socialising, keeping in touch, prodding around, personell fact finding etc. Absolutely great. But, with my life situation (wife, three small kids and a pretty demanding job), then I am not socialising that much anyway. And to those that says “well, then socialise online if you don’t have time, it’s more efficient”, I actually do prefer to keep most of my private communication as old fashioned as possible, e.g. I don’t have a need to publish my personal life to a big network. I guess that shows my 40 years birthday is not too far away, or that I am just boring by nature.

I also find it somewaht disturbing what FB are doing to my data. As Robert Cailliau says (co-inventor of WWW); “it is easy to get in, but difficult to get out”. Much truth in that. I am not paranoid about it, but I will probably never trust a unregulated commercial enterprise with all my data. One day, I am sure regulation will catch up, for good and bad.

Pros & cons on FB can easily lead to some interesting and heated discussions. I was witness to one such discussion the other day on the Eurostar coming back from meetings in Belgium (very well done Mathieu and team, you guys are doing really well, lots of energy and creativity in building Just-Eat.be). David B., our dear UK Country Manager, is not only fanatically opposing the iPhone, but he also refuses having a profile on FB (he steals his colleagues log-in, when he needs to check something). Rasmus W. was leading the charge against David-the-Luddite with Mat B. and I laughing our butts off, and it lasted for around one hour. Below is a picture taken during a lull in the fighting, I also have a video with plenty of insults being traded as well as a good deal of finger pointing, but it is almost too violent to show here. And there was absolutely nothing new under the sun in terms of insights, it was pure entertainment.

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Anyway, FB is great for certain things, and one day they can probably also be trusted more than what is possible today. And whether we want it or not, FB is, a massive platform for all types of communication, transactions, searches, exchanges, etc in the future. And we at Just-Eat will of course engage with FB users to get the most out of that. A couple of months ago we only had a few thousand FB friends, and today we are closer to 40,000, and I think this will grow tremendously. So yes, we care about Facebook, and most people probably should!

Irish status: goood

Me and some of the other HQ fat cats went to Dublin last week to have our monthly business review of the Irish business. James Galvin (Galvin means “young, but with a grumpy edge” in Gaelic) has done a great job as Country Manager the last one and a half year since he was thrown into the battle. He did not inherit the most beautiful kingdom, but he sure has made it look very pretty since then. A bit of turnaround and a lot of growth has made Ireland a very strong Just-Eat bastion. 600 restaurants, a lot of orders and a good team and team spirit is the result.

 After the formal proceedings on numbers and activities we went for dinner in the evening at a great restaurant called “the Farm”. It is of course on the leading Irish online takeaway site, so if you live in Dublin and like good traditional Irish food with a twist, then it is worthwhile ordering from the Farm. Below is a picture where I try to capture the atmosphere that evening, anyway, fun it was.

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And a big applause to the IE team, keep up the good work. The dedication and energy James and his team has shown is exactly what is needed in every single market where we operate. That combined with leveraging the intellectual capital we as a company has earned over the last 9 years is the recipe for success.