The first interview in our new ‘Hot Seat’ series by Episode1’s managing partner and overall good sport Simon Murdoch
What’s your name and where are you from?
Simon Murdoch, originally from Yorkshire, Northern England, but have lived and worked in and around London since leaving University
Three words to describe yourself?
What has been your biggest success in your life so far?
Selling Bookpages to Amazon and being the country manager when Amazon.co.uk first launched in 1998.
What’s your biggest failure?
I cofounded Friendsabroad — a social community for learning languages in 2006 and was the biggest investor. The community was very active attracting over 1m users at its height but we never worked out how to monetise the freemium service so sold the assets of the company in 2010 for a big loss.
If you weren’t doing your job you do today, what would you do?
I would live in a hotter country, live off passive income including investing in venture funds ;-), and write for fun.
Who would be your mystery dinner guest (dead or alive) & why?
My grandfather (fathers father) — he died before I was born. He was a railway worker in Glasgow and my dad was very proud of him. I’d love to have known him.
If you won the lottery what would be the FIRST thing you’d do?
I have won the lottery in a way by being able to do this job running a VC firm. The challenge of being competitive and hard working is that I don’t find it easy to relax and unwind, so winning the lottery would probably mean I would take a long sabbatical to learn how to relax and unwind.
What’s your favourite book/blog/website to read?
What’s the silliest thing you have ever done?
I’m rarely silly though I have often been foolish and sometimes irresponsible. Please don’t ask my wife this question about me — she will have loads of answers!
What was the biggest ‘EUREKA’ moment in your life so far?
I was very shy when I was young. I gradually became less and less cautious as I grew older. The Eureka moment was in 1996 when I was contemplating setting up Bookpages. I sat on my own late one night and thought it through and resolved to start the company. The key to taking that risk was the answer to the next question…
If you were to die tomorrow, what advice would you leave to the world?
I call it rocking chair regrets — imagine you are in your rocking chair on the decking at home watching the world go by in your retirement years. As you contemplate your life, it will be the things you didn’t do that you regret rather than the things you tried which didn’t work out. So bringing that back to the present means you should be daring and live life to the full now to avoid having those rocking chair regrets.
Who do you nominate for the next ‘Hot Seat’ Interview?
Come back and join Episode1 on the 14 June to read what Russell has to say!
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