“Technology Has Been a Lifetime of Fascination”
I'VE BEEN A TECHNOLOGY devotee from my teens. And, as a result, I’ve been in the forefront of the technology “wave” since the 1980s — initially in programming, as one of the early IBM Certified Systems Administrators in the ‘70s and ‘80s, and then as an early ASP Service Provider in the days when slow 1200-baud modems were the only practical way to transfer data. I founded programming and hosting companies before most people even knew what they were.
When the Internet Age first began, I quickly saw the potential and became an early adopter. As an original subscriber to Stanford University’s “Mosaic Beta Web Browser” I reserved the domain “www.nycity.com” ahead of the rush.
Later, my expertise was tapped by the founders of Register.com, now one of the largest Domain Registrars in the world, when it was in its infancy — and I helped them bring the Internet (Internet-in-a-Box) and domain registration (Register.com) to market prior to their own IPO.
When the Internet was becoming mainstream in 1994, my wife, Kiri, and I founded Manhattan Creative Partners (MCP), a consulting firm specializing in bringing the Internet into the everyday business world of their clients. During this period, our software development business provided innovative solutions and other business services to AIG Europe and SunAmerica Mutual Funds among many others. This early development work ultimately led to the launching of Diligent Boardbooks — a corporate governance software solution delivered via a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model. I led the conceptualization and design of the original workflow and systems that are behind Diligent's SaaS while I was CEO of MCP.
Besides my love of technology, the other thing that’s important to know about me is this — whenever I get passionate about something, I become incredibly focused.
For example, with flying. When I first got my license, I bought a twin engine airplane and I focused on it to the point that I could hardly get myself to go to work because I would much rather be flying a plane. And then once I mastered flight (and a twin engine prop plane is more difficult to fly than a jet) then I brought it down to a more sustainable level.
When I got into cycling I was focused to the point where (like many who get into cycing) I became almost addicted to it. I still own five bikes, four of which are custom made! I trained with Olympic athletes, Tour de France athletes, national and international champions. At the same level. And then I won a famous race in New Zealand — the Waikari Classic — and after that I said, “Hang on, I’m in my forties. That’s enough.” And I toned it down. I still like to cycle, but I’m not obsessive about it anymore.
When I became overweight and decided to shape up, my brother Gerald gave me a great program. I focused on it. I got down to 169 pounds and 7% body fat. And then again, toned it down and evened it out into something a bit more manageable.
So that’s been my mode of operation. I get totally focused on things I truly care about. Then I peak somewhere along the "obsession curve” and come down to what I’d consider a more maintainable level.
One last thing... Having the experience of taking Diligent through to a highly successful IPO, I recognize that my strength and core competency is putting a great idea together. Assembling a great team of talented people. Forming a terrific, independent board. Putting all the things in place. Getting it across the finish line. And then stepping aside and letting the team who are great at ongoing administration and company-building execute the business plan and realize the long-term global vision — while I happily contribute as a shareholder.
Once in the role of shareholder, I do everything I can to contribute to the ultimate successful conclusion all management and shareholders seek.
I am a member of the Institute of Directors - London, UK.
Brian is a global business entrepreneur who lives in Europe five months of the year (mainly in Brunnen, Switzerland) while conducting business there, in the USA and in New Zealand.
As an Internet early adopter — Brian has been involved with the Internet from its earliest days. He started a variety of technology, software and hosting businesses that eventually led to the hugely successful Diligent IPO. (Shown above is a visualization of routing paths through a portion of the Internet.)
In 2007, Brian and his talented Diligent management team, along with NZX Market Participant McDouall Stuart, obtained a NZD $100 million valuation for Diligent in one of the worst capital markets on record. Brian led the capital-raising “road show” in the UK, USA and New Zealand, which culminated in taking the company public on December 12, 2007.
Brian, pictured here at the controls of the technically advanced Cirrus airplane, became a pilot practically by accident (full story here). He loves being in the air, is a Multi-Engine Instrument Rated Pilot and flies his own Twin Cessna 421C.
Cycling is another of Brian's avid interests — he’s a cycling enthusiast and an award-winning road cyclist racer.
Brian centers his life around his family, which is one of the reasons (his sons’ goals to be alpine ski racers) that he splits his time between Switzerland, the USA and New Zealand.