It was with great sadness that I learned of the tragic death in a plane crash of the ball of energy and ideas that was Martin Schaedel.
I played a small part on his journey to internet celebrity, giving him what I believe was his first ever job. as described in the article in the New York Observer.
I was managing the technology department at web marketing agency, Panlogic, and was on the lookout for a search engine optimiser. Round after round of uninspiring CVs came and went leaving me still no closer to finding that elusive staff member.
I then received a call from a confident and highly promising candidate who clearly knew considerably more about search engine optimisation that I ever would and seemed almost too good to be true, name dropping conferences, high profile contacts and pointing me to his real estate site to show off his skill at getting high rankings.
At the very end of his call he dropped his bombshell. “There is just one thing more I should tell you. I’m 17.” Clearly this was no ordinary candidate.
We flew him over from Sweden and the team and I grilled him on his extensive SEO knowledge, as he answered each question almost dismissively challenging us to test him further. He then stood his ground and haggled like a veteran over his wage demands leaving us not quite sure what to make of his young prodigy.
Age is no barrier to talent, so we asked him to join us and he accepted. He was quickly welcomed into the team attracting the nickname ‘Mini-Sven’ after then England football manager fellow Swede, Sven-Göran Eriksson.
His confidence was staggering for someone his age, quickly challenging the status quo and proposing that we changed our entire business model on his very first day. As it was, he had to knuckle down with the rest of the team and go through his probationary period.
His first review was a reminder of just how young he was, as he asked for an early answer on his probationary period as he had to let his school know whether he was coming back or not!
He was just as unique outside the office insisting that he only drank champagne and telling tales of the women in his life and his ambitions in the finance industry. You were never quite sure what the reality was with him, but he made entertaining company and did his work, so we got on fine. Perhaps a sign of the line between fact and fiction was in the reported claim in the New York Observer article to have made $2,000 a day doing SEO – I wish!
To his great frustration he never quite managed to beat me at the office table football, but proved a willing attacker in doubles matches against the combined forces of the Creative department…
I later left the company and a short time later so did he, but we kept up on Messenger as he began to realise his goals. There’s no doubt he would have gone onto extraordinary things and it is a tremendous tragedy that such a maverick with so much ahead of him was to end his life at just 23.