A Birthday Surprise

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To understand everything that follows, you have to understand that for years we have had one rule at RedMonk. One simple rule. The first rule of RedMonk is that you never, under any circumstances, talk about how old RedMonk is. If RedMonk got old, after all, how old would that make us?

For years then we’ve deflected questions during introductions with vague replies like, “well, we’ve been doing this longer than we care to admit” or similar platitudes.

It is also worth noting that it seemed possible, at least, that if we were to acknowledge the company’s age someone – maybe more than one someone – might feel compelled to say something positive about one or both founders. And while James isn’t particularly comfortable with positive praise himself, I’m allergic to it. I’m a craggy New Englander at heart, and that means praise is for other people. I was taught early on to do my job, and not expect a gold star for doing it. I really don’t like being thanked either, which as you might imagine makes me a joy to deal with overall.

Imagine my surprise, then, to wake up to a few tweets yesterday congratulating RedMonk on our 20th birthday. It was absolutely shocking. Also, horrifying. Who could have known that? Who could have possibly remembered? For a brief, hope filled minute, I thought it was one or two tweets that would be quickly lost amidst the flood of daily twitter nonsense. Then there were a few more. Then I noticed the hashtag, #20YearsOfRedMonk. Suddenly it became apparent that this was no accident. It was a coordinated effort. But the question remained: who could be responsible? Surely it couldn’t be an inside job. Surely our colleagues would never throw over our one, core rule in this fashion.

NARRATOR: it was an inside job.

Our colleagues, as it turned out, had gone full conspiracy. With their warm, kind and ultimately pitiless hearts, they decided that our one, core rule was more of a guideline, really, due to the perceived gravity of the anniversary occasion. I don’t know when they started planning it all, and I don’t know which of them started it, but I know they were all in on it. All of them.

What followed was something I’m guessing even their conspiratorial hearts couldn’t have predicted: an absolutely incredible and unprecedented in our history flood of congratulatory tweets, trips down memory lane and (largely) undue credit laid at our feet for the works and effort of others. It took over my timeline utterly, and judging by several of the tweets I saw go by, I wasn’t the only one to be swamped like this over the course of the day.

There are so many tweets, in fact, that it quickly became apparent that replying to each one would keep me busy into next year. About the best I’m going to be able to do is favorite them all, which seems like a poor repayment indeed for the outpouring we saw but still kept me up late into the night.

In the end, what can I say about all of this? A few things.

  • First, it was profoundly moving. While as mentioned I think many of you give James and I far too much credit for things you all would have certainly accomplished without us, and I know you give us too much credit for things the team has accomplished, to see example after example after example of the ways someone’s career or life trajectory had been impacted by all of us RedMonk in some small way is ultimately why we do this. It’s what gets me, at least, out of bed, and I’m pretty sure James would say the same exact thing. The opportunity not just to do intellectually interesting work, but to try and improve the overall opportunities for the various people who have entered our orbit in some fashion and are forever after part of our community. Just hearing from so many people, many of whom we haven’t had the chance to see in person in years was literally overwhelming. Multiple times throughout the day, I wanted to stop and interact, if only to plead for a cessation of that which is most inimical to my personality and training – praise – but I couldn’t. I was fully and totally whelmed.

  • Second, it was a reminder of what an incredible group of people we have had the great good fortune to meet in the (officially unconfirmed) number of years we’ve been doing this. And I don’t mean that you’re all good people, though you are, or that you have been good to both James and myself or the rest of the team, though you have. The really incredible and rewarding thing about the outreach yesterday was how many of you thanked us for the chance to meet the rest of you. This was not strictly or even primarily “we enjoy working with RedMonk and even also James and Steve at times” conversation. This was a “we enjoy the community of people that RedMonk has somehow, improbably had the good fortune to associate itself with” conversation. Now of course we know this. We live it every day when we talk to you all on the phone, and every year that we’re able to hold our events. We absolutely adore our community. But what’s even better than that is that yesterday you made it abundantly clear that you all do too. How often does that happen?

  • Third, I need to thank a few people.

    • My parents for giving me the ability to take the risk that was starting a boutique analyst firm at a time when both boutique analyst firms weren’t really a thing and a time in which the technology industry was in varying stages of implosion.
    • My wife Kate for serving as our legal counsel, coming up with the good ideas for the Monktoberfest that people mistakenly still credit to me, being patient with the ups and downs having a partner that helps run a small business and most importantly, one who’s put up with more than her fair share of travel on my part, especially when our daughter was several feet shorter than she is today.
    • The entire RedMonk team, both past and present. Every single person who has worked at RedMonk or works with us today is a vitally important part of why we’re still around – often far more so than James or myself. And if you don’t believe that, ask some of our early clients about the absurd difficulty of trying to pay us money before Marcia came on board and took over our operations.
    • Our clients. Without you, there would be no RedMonk. You trusted us when our ideas seemed batshit crazy, and you’ve continued to trust us when we come up with all new ideas that seem batshit crazy. But more importantly, you are a client base that is the envy of the industry because you’re fundamentally good people and because you, unlike a lot of the folks we don’t work with, are able to listen and process our advice. Even on the rare occasions when we tell you what you’re doing is wrong.
    • Our reporter friends, our analyst relations friends and our public relations friends. You took us seriously long before anyone else did.
    • James, for taking a chance on an unknown kid from the US he had met twice who really, really didn’t want to go back to consulting. It’s obvious after yesterday that most of you already know this, but for those that don’t, the most important thing about James is not that he’s one of the best analysts in this industry, it’s that he has the world’s biggest heart and would give someone off the street he didn’t know the shirt off his back if it would help. And not think twice about it.
    • Lastly, and obviously most importantly given the love bomb that got dropped on us yesterday, our community. I said it above, and I’ll say it again: you are the reason we do this, and you are the reason we are still here. Many of you said thank you yesterday, but the truth is that we can never thank you all enough. It’s simply not possible.

When James and I started this company all those a couple of years ago, he was more certain about the outcome than I was. I thought we had a chance to build something new and different, but just that: a chance. If you’d asked me, and I’m sure someone did back in those days, I probably would have said that the odds of us being around in three years let alone five was a coin flip.

But I don’t think either of us would or could have predicted what has happened over the last however many years it’s been. Because communities and people like this just don’t come around all that often. On behalf of myself, then, as well as all of the rest of the team: thank you. From the bottom of our hearts.

Now with all of that said, let’s never speak of any of this again.

P.S. A quick note to our internal conspirators, AKA THE ONES WHO ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL OF THIS. I have been instructed by RedMonk’s legal counsel to tell you something. I wrote it down so I wouldn’t get it wrong, though I made some small additions. So as our legal counsel has instructed me to be gracious and express my gratitude for your efforts to help RedMonk celebrate its birthday (by violating our most sacred law), let me be gracious and express my gratitude for your efforts to help RedMonk celebrate its birthday (by violating our most sacred law).

But I have one more thing to add to that.


  1. You guys are awesome! However this got started, it became a spontaneous self-sustaining flashmob of appreciation for all things and all people RedMonk.

    1. Wait until 25. 😉

      Happy Birthday, Team RedMonk. Each of you are worthy of every bit of the accolades sent your collective way. EVERY BIT OF IT.

  2. Idea for next year: we all get Stephen’s & James’ parents’ addresses, and send them our thanks for raising them in some magical way that created both Redmonk, and then also the community around Redmonk, which is what we all treasure!

    It was lovely meeting Stephen’s mother at Monktoberfest this year – very clear to see the wonderful humanity and kindness she has!

  3. Not only did you start with 2 of the best humans, but you have made a point of only adding people that were equally as good. And then, of course, you have attracted a community of similarly wonderful people. It was not at all surprising to see the flood of good wishes. I feel lucky to be allowed to hang around the periphery of this lovely community. Also, I will _never_ reveal the name of the instigators.

  4. Thank goodness for the inside job.

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