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SilverDisc was founded in 1993 by Alan Perkins and Eric Barfield, who had spent the previous three years working together at Philips Interactive Media Systems – Philips’ TV-based consumer software technology arm. Alan and Eric saw the opportunity to create a b2b service company offering high quality marketing and training solutions based on CD technologies - hence the name “SilverDisc”.
In the early years, SilverDisc designed and built many interactive products including one of the earliest CD based interactive training video solutions and one of the first electronic point-of-sale (POS) product catalogues. Early clients included Comet (a UK electronic products retailer), BSkyB (Sky), Barclays, Freemans (a mail order clothes company), Letts Education, Pearsons New Media, Video Arts, HarperCollins, Kimberly-Clark and many other top brand names.
With the arrival of the web in 1994/95, SilverDisc evolved and adapted its services for the online world. In 1995 we created one of the first secure online shops and helped a major bank code and deploy the first online banking service in the UK. We also hosted the Web site for HarperCollins, a leading publisher.
In late 1995, on the day AltaVista launched, SilverDisc realised the potential that search engines held for marketing purposes. They started marketing themselves and their clients through search engine optimization, although that phrase was not in use at the time. During the mid-to-late nineties SilverDisc continued to deliver CD and DVD products and services as well as Internet services and Internet marketing.
In 1998, Alan and Eric launched a second company, e-Brand Management, as a vehicle to exploit some ideas that Alan had in the years since 1995. 1998 to 2000 was spent developing patents, products and services for e-Brand Management. In parallel, SilverDisc continued to service its existing client base.
The patents were filed in 1999 and have since been granted. They cover some very fundamental search engine ground. One patent is in crawling and indexing, and the other is in personalisation – both are hot topics today, nine years later. The first product, Search Mechanics, was launched at the very first Search Engine Strategies to be held in the UK in April 2000; and e-Brand Management was one of only five exhibitors there.
By 2004 SilverDisc was eleven years old, and the PPC market was emerging. SilverDisc had been running PPC campaigns since 2001 and also, of course, had intimate knowledge of all aspects of search marketing, picked up over the previous nine years. At this stage, Alan and Eric sold a portion of the company to a business angel, Paul McGroary, and used this investment to switch the focus of the company from a small consultancy to a larger agency. In 2011, Eric sold his remaining shares in the business to Alan and Paul and began a new artistic career.
Since 2004, the company has grown significantly:
- It has built a client services and programming team in the UK, trained by Alan to produce top results from online marketing.
- It has a majority stake in a UK social networking site (www.theanswerbank.co.uk). It has also minority stakes in other UK companies.
- It has set up a Chilean subsidiary company in which it owns a majority stake (www.silverdisc.cl). This company employs five programmers who develop PPC bid management software for SilverDisc’s clients.
- It was Premier Plus sponsor of Search Engine Strategies in both 2005 and 2006 and also exhibited at the first UK ad:tech in 2006.
- The group now employs 20 people on two continents and provides its services to a wide range of clients from small startups to major retailers.