Stephen Fry – actor, writer, presenter, technology evangelist, SwiftKey fan – visited our London offices yesterday to share some of his wisdom about innovation and creativity.
We discovered Stephen was a user of the app by chance when we were one of the companies he praised in an in-depth blog post about mobile. What he wrote made it clear he got it and understood not only what’s cool about what we do, but why we do it. That has led to a friendship we’re deeply grateful for as his appetite for people and ideas knows no bounds.
The team took the opportunity to show him some fun stuff – the rough-round-the-edges innovations the developers plug away at on monthly innovation days – to show some of the ways advanced computer science can be applied to make life better, simpler or just plain sillier. (Don’t worry – these are ideas we plan to share with you soon too.)
His words had a genuine impact, partly because he uses language in a unique, mind-boggling and inspiring way, but also because of what he shared with us.
The highlight of his varied career? People, not specific projects: “The good fortune I’ve had to meet extraordinary people.” The people who’ve most left their mark on him? The hugely influential writers Douglas Adams and Christopher Hitchens, and Apple legend Steve Jobs – all masters of their trade who died far too young.
Stephen said he believes SwiftKey has been successful because the business is underpinned by “something that is passionate and human-shaped” rather than a plan to get rich quick. He described the “real sense of achievement” that can only come from watching people find value, joy or entertainment from something you’ve helped create.
“You know it’s only the beginning, the start,” he said, warning us the business would only fail if we became “a***holes” who covet yachts and share dividends.
“It’s a creative company, you’re the luckiest people in the world, you’ve got the best jobs,” he told us. And yep, we remembered why once again. Thanks Stephen.