Having obtained a degree in graphic design Mike Lister did everything from shooting
advertisements and making radio commercials to the design and layout of the Observer Colour
Magazine. By 23 he was Head of Design at PA Advertising, a division of PA Management
Consultants. At 28 he was Creative Head of David Baker Associates, a below-the-line advertising
agency, and managing a team of 23 designers.
Meanwhile, in his spare time, Mike invented a very profitable system of photographic lettering and
set up a company, Safelight, to commercialise it. For the next 25 years he ran Safelight as a highly
successful Marketing Communications, Multimedia Design and Events Company. Work involved TV
titles and film animation, video and CD-ROM production and print design as well as staging
conferences and events for up to 3000 people. Major clients included the Ministry of Defence,
Sainsbury’s, Lloyds TSB, ASDA/Wal*Mart, Gallo Wine, Hyder plc, Volkswagen/Audi, Abbey Life plc,
Informix, GE information Services, KBC process Automation plc, Arco Chemicals Inc., Mercury
Communications plc, P&O Containers plc, Unilever Industrial Holdings plc, Higgs and Hill plc,
Information Builders, Lucas Industries plc, Compuware, McDonnell Douglas Inc and The Wellcome
Safelight pioneered computer graphic systems in Europe and Mike funded and helped design and
test graphic software packages for USA companies like AVL (Audio Video Laboratories) and
Artronics. In 1980 he founded Dimension Technology to create Calypso software using his
proprietary windows interface. Eighteen months before the launch of Microsoft’s Windows, Calypso
was hailed as a brilliant success by the UK computer press, but being early to market made funding
difficult. Calypso was developed at the European beta test site for Stepstone’s Objective C, the
programming language later acquired by Next Computer which became the basis for Apple
software as well as the first browser WorldWideWeb.
Mike subsequently developed Maxima, an interactive digital video production tool which sold well
in the UK, USA and France. He adapted it for PIPS (Performance Indicators in Primary Schools) an
interactive CD-ROM which he donated, with development funding, to Durham University.
In 2000 Mike founded Netusability Ltd to improve his web-tracking and video streaming software.
He held four USA patents pending and was funded by $6m from eVerger (owned by Aegis plc and
Warburg Pincus). As CTO he ran development teams in the USA and UK but eVerger pulled out in
the dot-com crash. Mike bought back his software and became Director of Customer Experience for
the strategy division of i-level, Europe’s largest Internet advertising agency. It provided access at
senior level to major corporations and the opportunity to experiment using his software to analyse
internet behaviour. Clients included Teletext, the COI, Orange, Sony, Yell, News International, RAC
and Cosmos. Mike’s non-confidential results included eBay: 3.8% increase in UK online purchases,
then applied globally; AA car insurance: online conversions up from 2.7% to 7%, value Â£10m in
first year. Increased retention in years two and three valued at Â£100m; Sky TV: 63% increase in
online subscription purchases; the Guardian Soulmates: visitors increased 122%. Paid subscriptions
up 62%. Advertising revenue up 8%; and Deutsche Bank global forex trading: active traders doubled
in four months. These results were gained by using qualitative techniques: since 1998 Mike has
spent more than 4,000 hours interviewing over 2,000 people purchasing from websites, and also
quantitative techniques: 30,000+ hours analysing on and offline purchasing behaviour and trawling
through web analytics,CRM and call centre data.
Mike was Principal Business Fellow in the School of Management, at the University of Southampton
from 2009 to 2011, and Visiting Professor at London Metropolitan University. Mike is now
concentrating on writing a book about 21st Century advertising.
Memberships: Mike Lister is a Life Member of the British Kinematograph Sound and Television
Society (MBKSTS); a Member of the Usability Professionals Association (MUPA); a Member of the
Association for Computing Machinery (MACM); and a Member of the Parliamentary Internet
Communications & Technology Forum (PICTFOR)
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