15 years ago on September 11, 2001 I worked agency side in Haymarket in London’s west end for Edelman. It was a normal day. Well as normal is it gets when you are in the middle of the dot com bust fallout.
My job meant working on communications programmes for the European subsidiaries of technology companies. This was to reflect a ‘business as usual’ face to their customers. This allowed the European subsidiaries to keep their businesses largely intact so that they could be sold off to help bail out the financial hole that the parent company had made.
The businesses had grown on generous venture capital payments, share placements and bank loans. The dot com bust suddenly meant that there was a surplus of servers, network switches, bandwidth, commercial space and Herman Miller Aeron chairs.
Due to the nature of the business I worked closely with colleagues on the finance team because I spoke ‘geek’ and understood how screwed these clients happened to be.
The financial and corporate teams worked for a number of clients, notably Cantor Fitzgerald. They were to lose two thirds of their personnel by the end of the day.
It was early afternoon, when I realised that something was up. We had TVs around the agency that often weren’t on. This time they were all turned to Sky News, which was running the footage. After the troubles and bombings in Beirut, it wasn’t a complete surprise to see another landmark attack – at least at first.
Once the scale sunk in, then the realisation of how different the world was going to be started to dawn on me.