Thursday, November 19, 2009

It's Not E-Gaming - It's Online Gambling

So the company I was working for had not long imploded, I was due to get married, tomorrow, and I'm trying on my suit when the phone goes. It's an employment agency asking me to go to an interview that afternoon, it's at a company that I've heard bad things about, in fact somebody I know once walked of their interview when realising the work conditions. I have nothing to lose, a wedding to pay for and a "what the hell" attitude. I go to the interview, dressed in jeans and a t-shirt and just like every other interview I've ever had I get offered a job, on the top of the pay scale. I am fucking awesome at interviews even when I'm dressed like a tramp.

The next day I get married and go away on honeymoon. Over the next week or so I get several phone calls from my new soon to be employer asking when I'm going to be back. Call me a pessimist if you like but already my warning bells are going off, to be honest I'd never had any real trust in e-gaming (it was an e-gaming company, or as I like to call it online gambling) and even less faith in companies whose balance sheets tell you they are only surviving from venture capital. Yes I REALLY do this type of research before accepting a job, unfortunately the rushed nature of this meant I didn't really have much chance to do my checks. I wondered what could possibly be so important that they need my input, keeping in mind that I hadn't even started working for them yet and certainly wasn't on the payroll. Anyhoo, I kept with the nice demeanour and soon the honeymoon was over.

My first day wasn't exactly as I'd planned. For a start my uncle had died whilst we were away and that meant I had his funeral to attend the next day. He was my closest uncle and an usher at my wedding so it was a bit if a head fuck in what had already been a fairly messy year. It did get worse though, my first day also happened to be the lad I was replacing last day. He'd decided to jump ship early. At the time this didn't bother me in the slightest, the job I'd be doing was essentially a bit of web stuff and some database management so as long as the database was rationalised to some sort of accepted standard there would be no problems. The only possible reason I'd need any sort of a handover was if there database was a complete cluster fuck. Can you see where I'm going with this?

Over the next week I spend all my time familiarising myself with a database structure that just doesn't seem right. There was a lot of manual process going on in getting data out and my first thoughts are for automation. Two weeks in to my new job and the automation is complete. On the other hand my role (which is essentially to assist marketing) has now been expanded and I seem to be spending a lot of time with the IT department, headed by the biggest oaf I've ever worked with. A man so inept at everything his only redeemable feature is his ability to spew forth mountains of management bullshit. Of all the people I have worked with he was the one who clearly had the least clue of what he was talking about. He once bored me to the point where I was physically sick on leaving his office, I promise you that's true. Underneath he had a manager who was not far behind, clearly the company was being run on a premise of employing friends and family, or maybe just fuckwits. Even in saying all this there's always that niggle with a new boss that maybe it's just me that needs time to adjust, so I was more than happy to play the nice employee. Right up until the 3rd week of my employment that was.

In one morning I had 2 conversations that would result in me going out for lunch and never coming back. The first was from one of the big money backers, he received my automated reports each day and recognising the new name on the e-mail thought to contact me. He wanted somebody on the inside of the business who was out of the "loop" to report what was really going on. As far as he was concerned money was being thrown away hand over fist and he was wanted know why, he wanted to meet me that week and was coming over from Ireland. These are not the sort of games I get involved in. Then shortly after that the IT manager asked me to pull a report from the database showing the gambling turnover for last year. For a start I didn't work for the IT department and secondly I'd spent the last 2 weeks telling everybody who would listen that their database was a nonsense. My marketing manager was somebody who loved his data and would often ask for queries to be run, I'd do it and then he'd say something like "But when xxxx was here I'd see 5 times that number of signups". And I'd reply "Yes, that's because the database is crap and he wasn't doing it correctly". Why did nobody notice that with so many new customers they still couldn't make any money? But it gets better, not only did they want a report they also wanted me to sign it off as being accurate for company account purposes. Screw that. I was only the lowly database admin, I could now see why the other bloke couldn't get out the door quick enough, he knew it was coming up to that time of year. A morning of being asked to explain to a shareholder why the company was haemorrhaging money followed by being asked to make up some magic figures to reconcile with the bank account was enough for me.

But why even bother mentioning this? I suppose there are lessons about not rushing into things and the old if it quacks like a duck, swims like a duck and flies like a duck then 9 out of 10 times it's a duck thing but more importantly the man responsible for all the technology in that business at that time has just gone on to win some business bloke of the year award. I shit you not, it's not what you know, or to some extent even who you know. It's the amount of irrelevant dribbling bullshit that you can come out with that really matters.

ps Within 3 months of me leaving the entire front and back end gambling system was ripped out and replaced with a recognised system. I like to think that the report I left them on ways forward for them as a business had some influence in that decision.

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