Latest resource: Maturing from social listening to digital consumer intelligence

A practical guide to levelling up how consumer insights are used across your organization

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Latest resource: Maturing from social listening to digital consumer intelligence

A practical guide to levelling up how consumer insights are used across your organization

Read the guide

Published October 28th 2013

Decency, Mutual Respect, Hard Work & Creativity: Remembering Joe

Before Brandwatch was born, a few of us were working together in a technical agency called Runtime Collective.

We were young, we had dreams and the spirit that was forged in those early days remains as the core of the Brandwatch culture today.

Decency, mutual respect, hard work and creativity are the first four phrases that spring to mind. It might be a different four tomorrow, but if you work here or know the company well, you will have a good sense of what we’re about.

We want to make great products and we want to be good people.

One person who was the epitome of this was Joe Holmberg.

Joe left Sussex University with a first in computer science and he joined Runtime Collective when the century was young. He was red haired and mild mannered.


A gentle soul who was razor-smart and big hearted. Joe worked a lot with our now CTO Fabrice and together they delivered on project after project. As Joe developed he helped others who came into the company adjust to our ways and I often heard him say things like ‘oh yeah, I never understood that either – it’s really weird’ or ‘have you tried this or that?’.

What I’m trying to convey here is that despite his intellect and experience he never made anyone else feel stupid – the gift of a true teacher. And Joe was a teacher at a very young age.

He played guitar – the bass kind – as, I think, standing at the back of the stage was more his style. He also wrote, beautifully.

Joe was extraordinarily talented and uniformly loved by all that knew him. The strange thing was, I don’t think he realised either of those things.

You can see I have been using the past tense. This is because about 5 years ago, Joe contracted cancer and within 6 months he died, at the age of just 29.

He wrote a blog during the time of his treatment, which shows some of his character – very funny and extremely humble.

It’s still online and the first post he wrote after he found out about the cancer is Innards.

As you read through his posts, you will sometimes laugh out loud and you will be continuously amazed by his indomitable spirit.


From the left, Geoff, Paul-Michael, Giles Palmer, Sheila, Patrick, Michael Farthing (Vice Chancellor), Matt Roberts

From the left, Geoff Holmberg, Paul-Michael Sorhaindo, Giles Palmer, Sheila Holmberg, Patrick Holmberg, Michael Farthing (Vice Chancellor), Matt Roberts


A few of us, his friends and colleagues, had said that we wanted to do things to remember Joe. At the beginning it was very sore, we were all grieving – not least his wonderful family.

Then I guess life got in the way a bit. Work was all-consuming as we pivoted Runtime to Brandwatch and and and.

But now we have started by sponsoring a scholarship at Sussex University in Joe’s name – the Joe Holmberg Scholarship in Advanced Computer Science.

It has just been awarded for the very first time to the rather lovely Paul-Michael Sorhaindo – a very talented Computer Scientist. Joe would have approved of the choice wholeheartedly.

The award ceremony was earlier this month and Joe’s parents Geoff and Sheila together with Joe’s brother Pat and his wife Olivia came to award the prize. It was a good day. We remembered our son, brother and friend.

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Crimson Hexagon has merged with Brandwatch. You’re in the right place!

From May 8th, all Crimson Hexagon products are now on the Brandwatch website. You’ll find them under ‘Products’ in the navigation. If you’re an existing customer and you want to know more, your account manager will be happy to help.