Claudia Jay is a driven woman. When I meet her at the offices of
her PR company in EC2 - she has yet to find her own - Jay is barely a
week into her post as managing director of TheStreet.co.uk, the UK arm
of US online financial service, TheStreet.com.
’I joined a week ago on Monday - this is day eight,’ she pronounces like
a general running a military campaign.
With a pounds 10m war chest Jay’s remit is to establish the business as
’the UK’s largest financial news and commentary web site’ inside a year,
beginning with a launch in the first quarter of 2000.
This seems like a tall order given that, up until six days ago, Jay was
technically the company’s only employee and the UK start-up has yet to
find permanent offices - the company has since signed Kevin English as
chairman and Martin Baker, an associate editor of the Sunday Business as
It’s certainly been a hectic eight days: ’I’m living on e-mail and the
mobile at the moment. We’re looking at space but for the moment we’re
camping - appropriately enough on Fleet Street.’
Jay has spent the past week conducting wall-to-wall interviews, both for
the media and prospective employees. ’I’m either interviewing or being
interviewed - sometimes I forget which mode I’m supposed to be in.’
The company last week appointed Mustoe Merriman Herring Levy and media
agency Motive to handle its pounds 5m launch. But how is TheStreet going
to sell the worthy-but-dull topic of financial information to
’The traditional style of the financial press is a bit straight - we’ll
be very irreverent and that will be reflected in the campaign. It’ll be
anything but dull. It’ll be fun and sharp and have a poke at other
The company has some heavyweight backing and 90,000 subscribers in the
US - but TheStreet will have its work cut out, differentiating itself in
what is one of the most competitive sectors on the internet. Jay
maintains TheStreet will have a distinct character and place in the
’Most services are either broad financial services or personal finance
sites. We’ll be absolutely different. Bloomberg and Reuters are aimed
much more at professional institutional investors. We’re targeting
private investors, providing them with up-to-date actionable
Although just 28, Jay has a wealth of experience - at least in terms of
the nascent world of the internet - and an intimidating looking CV.
Having decided against a job in journalism - ’I didn’t like people
reading what I’d written’ - Jay started her career at management
consultant McKinsey as a business analyst.
Quite a change from her days at Oxford, reading English and the
decidedly non-conformist Yeats. ’McKinsey gave me a broad brush across
industry sectors, while I worked out what I wanted to do,’ she says. ’It
also taught me how to assess an opportunity fast, which was useful when
they wanted a decision for this job.’
After McKinsey came a spell as a strategic information analyst at
Pearson - before Jay took a year out to do an MBA at Insead. From there,
she went back to Pearson and, in 1998, was appointed as head of product
development at FT.com. There she oversaw the launch of its first foray
into e-commerce, The Global Archive. Her time there sold her on the
benefits of the internet: ’It’s a fantastic media for particular things
but it’s been used a bit indiscriminately in the past. It allows you the
brilliant analysis of print with the immediacy of broadcast.’
Those who have worked with her describe her as a player with the
ability, confidence and charm to bring people along with her. ’She’s got
the right training and education behind her,’ says one former colleague.
’She makes all the right noises. Claudia’s a politician. She knows how
to get her own way - she gets away with it because she’s a great
personality, very charismatic.’
If her career has been fast moving, her social life hardly seems less
so. Jay cites hobbies, including sailing in the Greek Islands and’a
tendency to go on slightly crazy holidays’, including, earlier this
year, riding horseback over remote parts of Africa.
She admits to being ’surprisingly good at darts’, a throw-back to her
university days when she lived with three blokes.
In fact, sickeningly, the only thing she seems remotely bad at is
tennis, where, she says, she constantly loses to her family.
It’s hard to imagine anyone getting the better of her in anything - but
then her family are hardly what you’d call under-achievers. Her uncle is
BBC economics editor Peter Jay and her father ran a marine services
company. And that’s not all.
Her sister works at the Treasury and her brother is a management
’I come from a very competitive family - I’m probably the least
competitive,’ she says.
Jay maintains that her background has had a ’neutral’ effect although
her father is still ’a great informal advisor’.
So just what is her secret? ’I’m a deeply open person,’ she proffers,
’secrets aren’t my bag. I was a singularly unambitious five-year-old - I
just wanted to have more toys than my sister.’
Business analyst, McKinsey & Company
Strategic information analyst, Pearson plc
Insead MBA Programme
Strategy and development executive,FT.com
Managing director, TheStreet.co.uk