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The rumours are true: I’m leaving the BBC…

When I joined the organisation, back in 2000, I didn’t think I would be at the BBC for more than one or two years. But on 8th May 2006 I will have been at the BBC for 6 years.

And it’s been six wonderful, inspiring and amazing years. But I’ve decided that it’s time for a change – and with that new challenges and new opportunities.

I’ve had the privilege to work on some amazing projects, including:

… and of course – which has been an incredible and thoroughly enjoyable project to help create, establish and run. It’s probably one of the coolest projects in the BBC at the moment.

It’s going to be really sad to be saying goodbye, especially to my pet project backstage.

The BBC is changing – for the better. The BBC does get it, well importantly the right people get it. 2.0 is going to be fantastic, (Oh, and the BBC isn’t going to be doing MySpace contrary to popular belief or miss-quote).

So, I’ve done my yelling, shouting, and harassing. It’s happening. I’m not saying it’s all down to me – it isn’t. But everything I hoped to see – video on demand, social software, blogging, and perhaps even some forward thinking ways in which we distribute news – are in the process of beginning to happen (or certainly will happen).

BBC 1.0 is dead. Watch out for BBC 2.0, and perhaps you could even be a part of it? But for me, it’s now time to move on.

What’s next?

I’m not sure what I’m going to do next. I’m in discussions with a number of companies, and I definitely still want to move to California.

But I can’t get away from the fact that everyone, from my close friends through to Robert Scoble keep telling me I should do a start-up. And I certainly have some ideas.

I had a minor epiphany at last week’s CHI Conference, where I realised I could swing it with these clued up interface people just as much as the next person. I know age-old interface adage such as the 0.1 second real-time system rule, I’ve advised the BBC on what makes a site accessible and I’ve conducted usability studies.

I can also code (that’s my ‘foundation’ skill), design, create products, run webservers, market stuff on the blogosphere, run communities, evangelise, and even negotiate business and legal stuff. And for each of these I’ve proved myself, working at the sharp end.

So if anyone has the skills to build something from scratch end-to-end, it’s me.

I’ve also been quite inspired having recently met start-up founders Albert Lai (of Bubbleshare) and Kevin Burton (TailRank).

But equally I’m going to continue to talk to the different companies I’m in contact with about their opportunities in California – all of which are exciting and interesting in their own way (some of which might be surprising too!).

It’s not too late, if you’re interested in someone with my skill-base and experience do let me know. I reckon I’ll be a free-agent by July.

In the meantime, look out for a couple of BBC memories and anecdotes over the next few weeks.

Published in BBC News Website News Thoughts and Rants


  1. Ben can I be first to publicly wish you luck with your move to the states. Honestly I’ve always seen you as a startup kind of person. The BBC is a safe grounding for you but now its time to make that mark, influence the future and hopefully shout bullshit to those bullshiters who make up crap to justify there crazy and sometimes messed up lifestyle.

    Remember to stay true to yourself, Sofia and the real people around you. And always rememeber when your over in London there will always be a geekdinner for yourself.

    Take it easy, and don’t let the west coast cloud your mind 😉

  2. Dude, see you over there 😉

    & grats,


  3. R Freeman R Freeman

    Will be missed – let me know where your leaving party is! 🙂

  4. It’s a real shame that you’re leaving – I’ll miss that confrontational-but-almost-always-right style 😉 – but all the very best for the future.

  5. Richard Edwards Richard Edwards

    Hi Ben,
    After the beeb you will find the outside world fantastic……. if you feel the need to design an amazing site for an indie record co, please let me know.
    Thanks for all your thoughts for the backstage project, long may it continue.

  6. Nick Reynolds Nick Reynolds

    Sorry to hear you are going Ben. You will be missed.

  7. All the best Ben! It’s been great working with you on some of the backstage stuff.
    I’m sure you’ll do just fine over in the Bay area (assuming that’s where you’re drawn to)..

  8. Good luck and all the best for the future, and thanks for the enjoyment you have given a good few of us through the backstage project.

  9. Hoder Hoder

    I had no idea you were at the BBC for six years. This would make your leave much more understandable, at least to me. I personally can not tolerate going to the same place to work for over 3,4 years. Even if’s the best place on earth.

  10. Ben Ben

    Thank you all for your v kind words.

    I hope we all stay in touch!


  11. Hey Ben,

    We only got to meet this week finally, after a few near-misses and same-room Geek Diner experiences!

    Hope all goes well with the new plan. Having done the start-up thing myself in 00/01, I can only wish you the best.

    Hopefully our paths will cross again soon, for more interesting exchanges, re Content 2.0 or whatever the topic du jour is… 😉


  12. Ben

    Good luck. So Mena finally got you to come and work for Six Apart 😉

    Seriously do both – go to Cal and setup your own business there. With help from Scoble, Arrington, Tara etc you will do great.

    The UK market for startups stinks right now with there being very few savvy angels who won’t want all of your companies equity for a pittance of money or worse VC’s who won’t get out of bed to speak to you for anything less than £5m.

    Don’t belief me … try naming 5 UK start-up companies that are hot right now? Reading TechCrunch there are over 100 companies in Silicon Valley. There isn’t a lack of talent or creativity in the UK just look at what the BBC achieved but there is a lack of risk taking investors.

    Be young, be foolish but be happy …

  13. Do the startup! Do it do it do it!

    I took the plunge – by accident, actually – 7 years ago and every day I thank God for how cool my job is. I don’t think I can go back now. It’s one of the sweetest feelings in the world.

  14. Ben,

    Great to hear that you’ve made the first part of your decision – to get yourself in the open and available to opportunity. Given your reputation in tersm of projects and publicity, I’m sure you’ll have a number of choices, all of which could work. Choose both with your heart and your mind, and enjoy life!

  15. Michael Dennis Stagg Michael Dennis Stagg

    You could send us news updates ! of California fires with some pictures so we can help Arnold resolve this massive problem affecting southern France, Australia, Indonesia, China and California … brush with wood (Kevin McCloud Ralf Harris) but not with fire … so do not get in too close these things flare and the wind takes them laterally into fire officers … research science has been battling to understand Grand Teton, California process and save smoke jumpers in burning soils recently, fire enhancement scrub and valley vegetal mass resource, hydrogen bursts, stemming from 1960s Fort Collins Colorado onwards and observations of old soils Temperate lands with horizons, they are better at it than we are, but we have some good Fell research Durham and Hull and as this affected Brecon and Mendip, 1976, 1978 the need to pull together as the population arrives gets greater … The Indians knew how to use the plains (Duvall’s comment, Open Range) have a good time … Arnold wishes we were all there. Mike

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