Peter Webb – The Birth of the Betfair betting exchange

Please like and comment on the video below that will allow me to produce better quality videos and more of them in the future. So I’ve done in a separate video on the Oaks and the Derby, and one of the things that I was going to talk about was Betfair and the fact they their first ever market was the Oaks I have mentioned this before. I was going to elaborate this year and to do that, I was going to read a blog post. I was going to put up this blog post, but it seems to been deleted, but being the archivist that I am and I did actually keep a copy of it. So I was going to read it out to you and I’ll put up a couple of fir bits and bobs as we go around it.

It’S always a pivotal time of the year for me, because not only is June absolutely massive, but I also celebrate my arrival on bed fare because my arrival came just after bet for open for business. The first market bet fair traded on the racing was the Oaks and I knew nothing of them. Then I arrived about a week or so later.

I think – and therefore this means this I’m about to enter year. Eighteen doing everything that I do here, which is quite incredible, really the markets shift and change over time. But I’m still here – and I think it’s a positive overall and that I’m constantly finding new and interesting things to engage in and I’ll talk a few more about it. As we do some more videos in the future, but also in terms of the way that we apply better angel to the market, we’ve got loads of great ideas and things coming as well, and the fact that I can still do that after eighteen years is pretty Amazing, I never thought really that I’d be around for this long to be honest, but I’m still here and I’m still going strong and I think that’s important for people like yourself on the other side as well. To know that I am still doing this and, as I’ve said in videos before you know, every market looks like an opportunity to me. All I need to do is try and unpick that opportunity, and it’s very hard to put it down.

I think it’s inevitable that over time, because of other commitments and things that I want to achieve before I get too old, I will hand over responsibility of different areas of what I do, including trading. But whenever a big market comes around like the oak or the Derby or the ground now excuse or whatever I’m still turning down those invites, so I can sit here and trade it and you know, I’m still very active. I know I’m still happy to do this.

For a living, even you know, obviously the software and all of the other things that have taken place have added a whole layer of complexity to everything that I do, but I think it’s important to be able to use the product that I’ve got and that you’re Using and to be able to use it effectively, and so I will continue to do that, and I don’t see that stopping anytime soon. I still get excited by looking at the markets, analyzing discovering new things and I still get excited about actively trading them as well. So it’s always a pivotal and reflective time when we come to this part of the year because of the oaks and the fact that it marks the birth of that fair and my arrival in the markets week or so later. And you know I am immensely proud of everything I’ve achieved over the last 17 18 years and when I look forward at where I want to be, and so on, you know when you have a bad day, you sort of think. Oh, you know what I’ve done enough, so I’ll just go off touring the world, but we have a good day. It’S such a huge buzz.

You just want to try and push on to the next level. So I think you should take some comfort from the fact that I’m still going strong and that I intend to be going for a long period of time and people have come and go over time. And I think one thing that hasn’t changed as people are still skeptical and it amazes me. In fact, it encourages me because one of the things that I I think makes this an unusual market. Is that all the way along my journey right from day one writes till now?

People have been consistently skeptical and I’ve come to realize that that is part of my edge in the market and when people are critical and you’re sat there actually doing and you’re putting a life and soul into and working ridiculous hours and getting up a ridiculous hours Of the day to do it, you realize that in fact, the process of doing that is much more than a lot of people that will ever go through and therefore that has become part of my energy in the market. So, anyhow, looking at this, what I wanted to do is read out the blog post by Marc Davis, which gives you an insight as to how Betfair started. I can’t find the blog post now think that maybe it’s been deleted or archives or something like that.

But I did keep a copy myself, because it gives you an insight into the what happened at the start and some of the detail and so on. So I can’t link to it so I’ll read it to you, and this is basically the start of Bedford. So here we are then back to where it all started the actual anniversary, maybe the 9th of June, but philosophically it will always be Oaks Derby Day, because Oaks Day 2000 was our first ever market love divine won it from memory. I think about 3400 pounds was matched. I can remember well that thrill of the first few bets being matched compounded, perhaps by the technical difficulties we’d had on three occasions when we had shown the product off in the days before launched.

Two of these are launch parties and rather public the other was in the privacy of my parents, home to The Times correspondent, Alan Lee. I forget now why it was that I’d caught Alan, but I suspect you had been the previous year and got myself a gig working in the press office of the Cricket World Cup based at Lord’s. I think, although neither of us can remember for sure that we must have met there and that, just under a year on just under a year on with both of us having moved jobs. But his was the name in the racing press that resonated whatever the reason and, however cold, to call Alan responded with great interest. A date was set Bert, and I rocked up to my folks place, which was a happy halfway house between Putney office and Alan’s charm home. We talked him through the product Bert in his customary shorts Wilder hair than he is today extolling the virtues of his baby.

At this exceptional product that had gone from drawing board to launch pad in just over a year, I guess that probably says it’s cut off. At that point, the first of our launch parties was in Covent Garden, targeted at. I think 24 people who had chanced upon us through friends and friends of friends as potential clients or win potential investors. We went to a small bar which was bizarrely lit in blue on Shelton Street. I think it was.

I can’t remember if there were really fresh tanks there, whether my memory has now just imagined them, but the whole place was full of being underwater at the feel of being underwater. It was an unfortunate metaphor, given that before we even started, we were there. They were the high rollers, as we thought of them then gathered together in hushed expectations, enticed by news of a groundbreaking product that they were going to be the first in the outside worlds.

To see 24 computers set up around the room, state-of-the-art flat screens or it was then the eerie blue light, just adding a frisian of excitement. Gentlemen, thanks for coming, what’s yours, what’s your perhaps to see is going to change the world of gambling? Sorry, the system’s crashed! A day later, at the sports bar on high on Haymarket, showing a rather larger crowd, anyone we knew from the city we asked to come along to evening, which we decided would generate the best interest. Chris takes a mock demonstration outside many of the people. Remember our mock funeral, which made the front page of the business section Sunday times we paraded a coffin around Finsbury, circus and its environment and proclaiming the bookie is dead and make your own market far fewer.

Remember the demo we arranged outside the sports cafe, which was a ragtag and bobtail group of actors dawned with Macintoshes and flat caps and held up placards placards saying stop for launch. The irony was twofold: first, some that were involved that might never have made it turning away, as they approached telling us later on that there seemed to be some kind of demonstration going on and they thought wishes keep clear. The second important is the all too obvious at the time the idea of bookies protesting our existence was all tongue-in-cheek. The did we realize just how much the bookmaking industry we generally line up against us in the years ahead in protest at how competitive we were JPMorgan. Despite their understanding of markets, didn’t see what the demand would be for our product and told me, there would never be more popular than the spreads that they loved the system. That was that night was up and down more than down.

Admittedly, it still felt a bit hairy, but we were heading towards DJ with some trepidation. But d-day went like a dream. Allen wrote a back page piece for The Times heralding the new dawn that we advised in words that went entirely unheeded. People in racing would be wise to notice the market was posted, the prices went up in fibres antennas and soon the computer screen and soon around the computer screen they appeared and disappeared, placed and matched with slightly more delay than they are today by the time. Lud’S divine was in the winner’s enclosure, we were all jumping up and down.

Betfair was up and running, so that was the story of how that fair actually came to being it’s amazing how a lot of people missed it at that particular point of time. I was fortunate because I’d been going around looking at all sorts of opportunities in that particular space added, a sort of early version of the dragon ski and then called first Tuesday. And it was there that I heard about the concept of betting exchanges. And that’s what got me involved later that month, so yeah interesting backstory to how Betfair started and how the very first market on Betfair was the Oaks you