Usually a company knows it's a success when it's famous to everyone in the village but we're working with the internet and that's a big village, so I still feel we have a long way to go.
It's been nearly four and a half years since we last interviewed you. Please update us on your bio and what you've been up to.
Building the company. Four years ago we were a tiny company of only six or seven people in an office in Uppsala, Sweden north of Stockholm. We grew the company on our quality over quantity mentality.
The products we created won a lot of awards, two FWA site of the year awards, the Bomb Shock awards, the web site of the day awards, we kept winning the most awards.
Every time we’d launch a project people would expect us to win an award and would expect this to be something ground breaking that they could be inspired by to see what the cutting edge is.
Back in those days the work we did wasn’t very technically advanced. It was more design and creativity, Flashturbation if you will. But the kind of work we do today at FI is 80 percent technology and there are a lot more technology people working in FI today.
Road Runner was really the launch platform. We were famous back then among the community for building the best graphics the best design the best sound effects we won all the awards for all that stuff but Road Runner was the first site to test us from a technical standpoint, can we build a real platform with a focus on usability and building real applications.
Since Road Runner clients have been coming to us not only because that site won site of the year but because it was so advanced from a technology level nobody could even come close to it.
Even 3 years after Road Runner was launched it won the best technical award at Flash Forward.
Clients expect FI to be the best of the best. Today we have 40 employees and offices in both Stockholm and New York. In fact we just got a new larger office in Stockholm and are just finishing up something very big with MTV. We’re still growing and actively recruiting.
How many hours do you work each week?
When we first started I’d come in at 9 and work til 9 or ten o clock at night. I also worked on weekends… it was 70 hr weeks.
Since I’ve been in New York it’s definitely gotten less although over the last couple of weeks it’s gotten a bit more again
How do you relax or unwind?
I enjoy wine, I really like picking out the small details in the wine. I like Frasier a lot because he’s got this very high class, everything’s beautiful everything’s high quality lifestyle.
I’ve always been involved in sports since I was younger, they make me very relaxed. Since I got into this industry that has dropped but I used to do sports at an almost professional level in running and cycling.
The most relaxing thing to me is freestyle skiing, the best feeling in the world. I used to ski almost every night in Stockholm. Since I’ve been in New York I’ve been working on my turn around jump shot.
Is there a particular moment in your career that stands out?
I think a highlight moment was when Road Runner launched, and the reaction it got. But I still feel FI has hardly gotten started.
Usually a company knows it’s a success when it’s famous to everyone in the village but we’re working with the internet and that’s a big village, so I still feel we have a long way to go.
In terms of software, is there anything new you have been playing with lately or that has impressed you?
I think Flex is promising. Flash is always evolving; it’s getting better and better.
Camtasia. Other than that there’s nothing special.
I think Google are overrated. I’m not impressed by anything that exists, because I don’t use it. If I was impressed by it I’d use it. The internet is way too underdeveloped.
How many projects does your company juggle at any one time?
We can develop five or six large projects simultaneously. MTV is a large project, AOL is a large project. Time Warner Cable is the biggest.
Are there any websites that have shone through as being pioneering in the last 5 years or so?
No, nothing. I want to see things moving to the next generation both from a design side and a technology side.
We’re developing a product called Propod that has a lot of promise but even stuff that FI has made I’ve left behind. You have to keep looking forward or you’ll get stuck.
Has winning FWA awards helped you in any way?
Yes, to tell our clients about it, also internally everybody knows there’s only one site of the year award and everybody knows all the competition around the award and to know we’ve won it twice, that’s a big thing internally.
When dealing with major clients, how difficult is it to meet the needs of such wide target audiences?
It’s not difficult, because we always deliver the highest level of quality. To make the client deliver that high quality level with us, that’s the problem. The audience will come to the quality.
Looking 10 years in to the future, how far can websites go?
I think there is going to be a lot to do with television on the internet a lot of accessibility like that where people are really starting to use their pc’s to put their personal lives there their personal agendas there, where today they’re not really doing that.
People have different accessories, ipods,etc. It’s all going to come together in one place where people can start to plan their whole life around what’s on the internet maybe share parts of what they’ve experienced with other people in a much better way than they are today.
I think it’s going to become a tool that people really use rather than a pain in the ass.
Of all the websites you/your company have produced, which one are you most proud of?
In the UK, television programmes covering the web are way behind what is really happening in terms of web design and development. Is it the same in your location and why do you think this is?
They are all retardedly behind because they look at general things like ebay or Google, general things.
They are not really showing anything about what’s really cutting edge on the web they’re just showing us the basic things that are available or something stupid like a cat website.
How do you keep your finger on the pulse of the latest web trends?
I don’t keep in touch with them cause I know that FI has the mentality that everything we build, the next thing will be a lot better.
The internet doesn’t really provide much inspiration. Everyone in the company does look out for cool things and they send them around when they find them but again there’s nothing fantastic.
Our inspiration comes from knowing that the stuff we build doesn’t exist so getting there is my inspiration. So we don’t really look for the trends, if we look for the trends then we’ll stop looking at what we want to do.
What country excites you the most in terms of innovation?
There’s no country that really stands out. Talented people are coming out of countries all over the world.
There must be a project that you have always dreamed of doing, what is it?
I’d love to do NASA, or Apple. The reason I want to work on Apple is because Apple are so into their design and their website is so ugly. I’d love to be the one to say you need help and we’re the ones to do it. NASA would be more of a personal honor to work on.
How difficult do you find employing the right people in a world where everyone calls themselves a web designer?
It’s extremely difficult, it’s absolutely appalling actually, there are millions of designers and developers out there but it’s more your work speaks for itself.
When people apply here we can see in a matter of seconds, literally one or two seconds if their work is good or bad. Then it takes two more seconds to see if the work is good or really good.
It’s very important that they are passionate about what they do. We usually find that in the younger crowd especially when it comes to designers.
When it comes to Flash generally you wouldn’t find a designer over the age of 30 who knows what they are doing. All of them are self taught, you can not teach talent.
How do you keep up with the latest capabilities of Flash or do you rely on other members of you team to do this?
The interactive department are most involved with keeping up with the latest flash developments.
What would be your ultimate vehicle to travel in?
The Space Shuttle.
Do you have any links to photographs of your offices you could share with us?
Here you can find photos of the office.
What does the future hold for your company?
We’re at the point where fantasy interactive could go a couple of ways.
We are already developing next generation portals for big companies I see us moving into bringing TV into the internet and developing our own original applications such as Propod.
Q. Once again, it's been a privilege. Thank you very much indeed.
First FWA Interview:
David Martin's first FWA interview, from February 2002, is located here.