How got started

Birth of a website that owes as much to football as the world of finance.

Conceived late in 1999, was born in the full flush of the dotcom era. Prior to this, the company was already running a website - albeit a very basic one. But the dotcom revolution made it clear something more ambitious was required. Indeed, back in those heady days it seemed that any business or publication, which did not have a clear web strategy was in danger of going out of business.

FinanceAsia faced a major problem. As it turned out, the company did not own its web address That domain name was owned by a company called the Web Connection, which had designed and operated FinanceAsia's original website.

Web Connection had been set up by Peter Hamilton and Ian Henry who then sold the company to Chinadotcom. Hamilton and Henry then became senior executives and shareholders of Chinadotcom, which had recently made waves with a Nasdaq listing raised more than $500 million.

FinanceAsia faced a serious issue. The large - and now well capitalized - Chinadotcom owned its territory on the internet, and as the conventional wisdom then went, it owned FinanceAsia's future. A magazine that did not own its own web address was a veritable dodo, merely awaiting extinction.

Which brings us to football. In a curious twist of fate, the CEO and publisher of FinanceAsia, Foster Wright played in the same football team as Peter Hamilton and via this relationship also knew Ian Henry socially. A phone call was made and a meeting was arranged to discuss the issue of the URL.

The meeting took place over breakfast at Hong Kong's Excelsior Hotel. Ian Henry attended from Chinadotcom. Fortunately, from FinanceAsia's perspective it soon become clear that while Chinadotcom owned the domain and had lots of cash, it had no knowledge whatsoever of financial publishing.

Indeed, because it had so much cash it was looking to invest elsewhere. Chinadotcom saw the allure of finance and wanted a retail investor portal. The two companies talked about the possibility of adding an online broking capability so users could trade pan-Asian stocks.

By the end of breakfast a rough plan was formed. FinanceAsia would manage content for Chinadotcom's retail investor site, and in return FinanceAsia would be given ownership of its web address and, just as crucially, receive a major cash investment from Chinadotcom that would take a 17% stake in FinanceAsia.

Looking back, it was one of those dotcom deals that was literally signed on the back of a napkin and in the time it took to fry an egg. As it turned out, it was enormously beneficial to FinanceAsia.

Chinadotcom's investment in the company allowed FinanceAsia to design and build a wonderful website, which was created in Australia, under the stewardship of Scott Mcneilage, Cherie Marriott and Nick Lord. Scott looked after the tech side of the equation, while Cherie and Nick managed the content side of the design.

A fully-functional website arrived (roughly) on schedule in the Summer of 2000. Meanwhile, FinanceAsia's new magazine Editor, Steven Irvine approached his close friend Jackie Horne to join the company. At this point, she was Asia Editor of Euroweek and after some persuasion agreed to become Editor of

By this stage, ironically enough, the whole dotcom bubble was fast bursting and Chinadotcom took the decision to abandon its finance portal for retail investors. This meant FinanceAsia's commitment to manage such a site also (fortuitously) vanished. In the event, FinanceAsia was therefore no longer required to staff and run the Chinadotcom site, and yet still (as per the agreement) received full ownership of its web address and the capital with which to build its own website, which you still read today.

The first daily email newsletters started to roll into inboxes in the Summer of 2000. And the rest is internet history. Today the website receives over one million page views per month.

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