Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Thursday 21/10/2004A team of PRs from Band and Brown -- best known to us as Cisco's vicars on earth -- descend on Schloss CNET for that all-important activity, building relationships. We promptly take the relationship assembly kit and decant it and us to the Anchor Tap, a typical London pub just below Tower Bridge.

Thursday 21/10/2004
A team of PRs from Band and Brown -- best known to us as Cisco's vicars on earth -- descend on Schloss CNET for that all-important activity, building relationships. We promptly take the relationship assembly kit and decant it and us to the Anchor Tap, a typical London pub just below Tower Bridge. There is much conviviality, a great deal of pleasing banter and thoughts are just taking that three-pint turn to the curry house along the way when my phone goes off. It is the BBC World Service, who have run out of other options for a pundit to talk about Google's financial results.

I manage to curb my beery slurring and say the right things. With infinite regret and a rumbling tum, I leave the party. Hoping that the cool London night air will reinvest me with a degree of alacrity, I get a tube to the Aldwych, neck a quick coffee -- oh, poor stomach -- and present myself at the studio.

"Thanks for coming out" says the interviewer. "We're in the studio at about twenty to ten. The results are due out at half past nine." It's nine. The beer has largely worn off: not so the clamours of the inner man -- I can switch my mobile off in the studio, but can't do much about the Mt St Helen's style gastric seismology going on within.

At 9:30 on the dot, the results appear. Eight pages of closely written American accounting -- lovely. We rush down to the studio while I try and pick the bones out of earnings, depreciation, one-time write-offs and carefully phrased talk of millions here, millions there. It's not helped by the fact that the print-out has that traditional Web tradition of a huge left hand margin and a missing inch of text along the right.

I sit nervously in the studio, headphones on, while the presenter -- the frankly impressive Judy Swallow, who is as wonderfully and waspishly acidic off mike as she is precise and effective on -- rounds off the last story. Apparently, the US has managed to persuade Albania to destroy its stocks of chemical weapons -- thank god the Albanian threat has been neutralised, eh, readers?

And then it's into Google. The interviewer finishes his precis and turns to me. "So, Rupert, is this a good result for Google?" I don't know. Nobody knows. Google has done so many things so differently, these are the first results as a public company and the usually overconfident analysts have been remarkably fuzzy. But hell, they've turned over $800m. "$800m is a lot of money," I say and immediately kick myself: this isn't the sort of incisive analysis the world is eager to hear.

Things pick up after that, I'm glad to say. We touch on Microsoft -- of course -- and Google's global strategy, which of course they've told nobody about. Live wireless. You can't beat it.

It's ten o'clock, and too late to make it back to Tower Hill for what I am later informed was a top-notch bit of Indian fork-fare. I am stone cold sober, slightly buzzy after my encounter with the microphone and I could eat a horse. No horse being available, I'm forced into the nearest Subway.

As I chomp away at an overpriced bread roll stuffed with a variety of fillings, each tasting astonishingly close to damp cardboard, I stare out over the dark street. As the first hint of a night's entertaining indigestion takes hold, I tromp up Kingsway to Holborn Tube through puddles and piles of rubbish. Don't let anyone tell you that life in the media is anything less than endlessly romantic.