I’m Ian. I figure if you clicked the About link you probably want to know a little more than that I like music and tech. So here goes.
I’d like to hope that when I die, my family, friends and life-long collaborators say something about giving as fully as I could. To the people I love and to the areas of culture that excited me to lead, invent, evangelise and participate. Then a lot of drinking, loud music and talking about what an idiot I made of myself during that process.
I grew up in South East London, place of more fascination than you might think. I’m very much a product of my family, which includes my late Grandfather, an engineer and inventor. I love building new things, it motivates me to work hard more than anything else.
I love music, film, literature and food. I get hooked by an artist’s work and then I binge. The artists that move me the most are more likely to be full of rage or melancholy than peace or contentment. I’m not sure why. I don’t enjoy Pixar films or musicals. I love to cook for friends and take pleasure in getting better at that. One day I hope to take a year off and train properly in France or Japan.
I studied Machine Learning at Cambridge in the hope that AI would be the area I’d end up building new things. I ended up getting disillusioned with technology. It felt like all my options involved incremental improvements to existing structures rather than new systems and breakthroughs. That was probably a failure of imagination or immaturity on my part but it drove me away from technology for a few years.
I spent a while in Beijing in 2000, just before China won the Olympic bid, and have been obsessed with China ever since. Beijing is my favourite city in the world, and I will live there again. I’ve worked hard to speak Mandarin ok, and will eventually get fluent. My great friend Kyrre keeps his up by watching the news on CCTV every morning, and I’m thinking about doing the same.
I realised a few years ago that I can lead people. When there’s something I really believe in, I’m really good at recruiting amazing collaborators. On the flip side, if I don’t believe in something I’m totally useless.
For the past few years I’ve been building Songkick. We believe that live music can be one of the most powerful experiences in life. We believe it’s the most intense connection you can have to an artist you love. We also believe that for a variety of reasons the industry surrounding concerts has drifted to a place where it has become a niche activity, failing both fans & artists. We want it to be for everyone and are trying to change the concert industry so that it is.
For me it probably all goes back to the first time I saw Mos Def live. I’d been listening to Black on Both Sides on repeat for months and months and I was so unbelievably excited to see him in person. Many of the hip hop shows I was going to at the time were full of distractions, filler and hype men. He just came on to a huge blank stage, just one man and a mic and motherfucking killed it. That’s why I’m working on Songkick.
I love playing sport intensely and competitively. I love the feeling of giving everything I have. I play a few sports, but have probably enjoyed boxing, hockey and rock climbing the most. After a few years of getting out of shape I’ve got back into climbing, and Will and I are training towards the dream of one day making it up El Cap. I would love to have played for Coach Taylor. I’d have been a less-talented, harder-working Matt Saracen.
I’m generally pretty naïve / disengaged when it comes to social issues. I’m not proud of this, but so far things like climate change or income inequality have felt too complex for me to see how I can have a major impact. I hope that changes as I grow older and I understand better how to solve complex, entrenched problems. There is one issue though that I have been deeply disturbed by for a long time, which is child trafficking. I would like to find a way to spend a good part of my life and energy on that issue.
This blog is an attempt to articulate and explore the things that fascinate and intrigue me. I’ve never been a good writer, but I think that skill is more and more important if you want to influence the things you love, so I’m going to try to get better at it by doing it more. Finally, starting this blog was inspired by those of Andy Weissman, Anthony Volodkin, Blackdown, danah boyd, Fred Wilson, Ian Rogers, and Sean Ellis.
If you can help me understand something I wrote better, I’d really appreciate it if you left a comment. Perhaps we’ll meet one day.
London, February 2012