Where were you when it happened? I was on the school run. The cellphone beeped. It had a message from Andrea Adamo. I pushed the button and one word flashed up on the screen.
My daughter Georgia grinned from the seat alongside.
“Your friends are so rude.”
Andrea’s rarely wrong about things and he’d called this one right. As well as his profanity, there was a screengrab from eWRC. It was the one that rocked our world. The unthinkable had happened: it had been taken down.
The money had seemingly run out.
Another beep. Another message.
“We have to do something…”
Children delivered and firmly out of earshot, I called Italy. Within minutes, Andrea and I agreed to approach eWRC-results.com owner Tomáš Wanka to find out more about his plight.
Adamo opened communications with an email. An hour later? Nothing. Two hours later? Still nothing. Lunchtime? Silence. Late afternoon? Not a word.
Yikes. This was serious.
Early evening, the phone was back in action. Tomáš had called. He wanted to talk and suggested Zoom or some such web-based convenience.
Andrea wasn’t interested in that.
“I’ve told him we’re coming to Prague,” he said. “If we’re serious, we’re serious and we do this properly. We go to see him and look him in the eye.”
But the conversation had better be worth it. I was supposed to be in Umeå for Rally Sweden, but it was impossible to fly from Sweden’s far north to Prague on Sunday night. Or Sunday morning. Saturday was tricky. Best bet? Bin this year’s winter round and head instead to the east after a weekend watching my colleague Colin Clark having all sorts of fun in the snow.
Waking up to a cancelled flight from British Airways meant an unscheduled trip to Zurich, but there Andrea and I were enjoying a late-night livener before a Monday of discussions with Tomáš.
Tomáš apologized for taking a wee while to come back to Adamo.
“I had around 500 emails,” he said. “People want to help, they wanted to talk.
“But you are the only ones who got on the plane.”
Adamo called this one right: face to face was the only way.
By the end of the day, we’d got the bones of an agreement.
The next task was to introduce Tomáš to our owner, Steve Rimmer.
As well as being one of the most successful people I know, Steve’s also one of the busiest. (The two are not unrelated…) His days are packed full of doing amazing things in the aviation industry, but he’s ahead of every curve.
I called him to tell him about eWRC and the opportunity.
“I know!” he said.
Of course he knew. He’d already tripped over the message. Steve’s the same as you and me: never more than a couple of clicks away from another visit to eWRC. Time was against bringing Tomáš to Seattle. Even if the site was offline, the data was still being gathered and put in place.
Instead, the connection between Seattle and Pilsen was virtual. But it soon became real.
Steve and Tomáš were on the same page.
And that was how DirtFish CEO Justin Simpson and I found ourselves back in the birthplace of Pilsner, to sign the agreement with Tomáš.
Did Tomáš ever have any doubts?
“No,” he said. “I didn’t tell you before, but when we went down before Sweden, I was getting so many emails from people telling me: ‘Do a deal with DirtFish!’ This one made sense.”
It certainly did.
And it most certainly does.
What does it mean? Well, for one thing it means less potential for my daughter reading sweary one-worders from Adamo on the way to school. eWRC-results.com’s not going anywhere.
DirtFish and eWRC will remain largely independent of each other, but we will look to share some stats and stories across the sites as time progresses – like the one below.
Some might say we want to enhance the share of data with a multi-platform approach to augment consumption and generate commercial opportunity. That’s right.
From my side, this partnership gives us the chance to share more stuff. We’ll share more facts. More fever.
As a man who lives his life in a sweater and a has a deep love of winter and snow-filled car parks, missing Sweden was painful this year.
But it wasn’t half worth it.
And before I go, thanks Andrea. You were right.