Highfield is hired as a management consultant by Coopers & Lybrand Consulting.
Highfield returns to the UK, where he is hired as head of IT for NBC Europe. He is tasked with the set up one of the first television websites in the UK.
At Flextech, highfield creates sites for Discovery, Playboy and Parliamentary channels. He builds the business from just himself, to 100 staff. He launches The Doll’s House, an online reality show for the Bravo channel.
It was a number of girls in a house under constant surveillance by webcam. It hit the headlines when, not surprisingly, a visiting boyfriend got caught in bed with one of the girls on webcam.
He successfully invests in the dotcom boom, including the online mapping site MultiMap.com, and the ticketing agency Way Ahead Group.
When I lucked in during the dotcom boom I bought myself a Ferrari.
While at the company he is presented with their “worst dressed man” award.
The BBC announces that Highfield will join the corporation as Director of New Media & Technology, starting in October. He is the youngest ever member of the Executive Committee, reporting directly to Director General Greg Dyke. The new media division consists of interactive television, BBC Online and a new research and development department called Imagineering, which has been rolled out over the past two months.
BBC Online is an incredible achievement and the advances made in interactive services are very exciting. I hope my experience, combined with the power of the BBC brand, will be an unbeatable combination.
Highfield is appointed CEO of Kangaroo, a video-on-demand service owned by BBC Worldwide, ITV and Channel 4, and due to launch in 2008. He take over from Lesley Mackenzie, who has been managing the project as interim CEO. As well as overseeing the roll-out of the new service, Highfield will lead negotiations with third party content owners and the future distribution of the service on other platforms.
This is a fantastic opportunity. Kangaroo is a historic partnership with a combination of innovative technology and terrific content and I’m looking forward to transforming the way audiences watch television.
Highfield leaves Project Kangaroo after four months to join Microsoft as managing director of their UK online operation. He will be replaced on an interim basis by Ron Henwood, while a search for a replacement is conducted. Kangaroo Chairman Ben McOwen Wilson:
We would like to thank Ashley for leading Project Kangaroo through a crucial stage in its development, and we wish him well for the future.
Highfield is appointed CEO of Johnston Press. He will start on November 1. He will be given a £500,000 “golden hello” share package, in a compensation package that is biased towards equity. The publisher currently has only about 7% of total revenues from digital sources, and it is struggling with a huge debt burden and tough advertising market. Chairman Russell:
His combined online and media sector pedigree will be a major strength in enabling us to grow our business again. On behalf of the board I would also like to thank John for his major contribution to the company and wish him well for the future.
Highfield is named vice-chairman of the News Media Association, which represents the national and regional newspaper industry.
Newsbrands are experiencing a renewed surge in confidence as their digital audiences and revenues continue to grow, and the power of print as a highly effective editorial and advertising medium is more widely acknowledged. The NMA has a critical role to play in highlighting the strength and adaptability of of newsbrands – in print and digital – as communications medium.