Wandisco prefers Aim to Nasdaq flotation

Wandisco, a California-based software company with operations in Sheffield, has announced plans to float on London’s Alternative Investment Market next year, rather than Nasdaq, the exchange seen as the natural home of high technology businesses.

David Richards, the company’s founder, said the UK market offered a lighter touch regulation and would enable it to fund acquisitions to speed up its growth.

“The regulations are not as onerous as Nasdaq. I don’t want to deal with Sarbanes-Oxley [the law governing compliance] and all that. Aim is very attractive for mergers and acquisitions and fundraising and other things like that,” he told the Financial Times.

“We are growing 50-100 per cent quarter on quarter, year on year.”

Mr Richards and fellow investors established the company in 2005 with money from selling other software businesses, in his case Librados, which was sold to NetManage.

“We are an unusual tech company because we have no venture capital looking to exit. We have been funded by organic growth. I do not need to create an exit,” he said.

Mr Richards, who grew up in Sheffield, arrived in Silicon Valley in 1991.

Wandisco’s Subversion software is used by 5m companies worldwide and enables staff in different locations to collaborate on projects in real time. Customers include AT&T, the US telecommunications company, Honda, the carmaker, and Nokia, the mobile device maker.

A recent Total Economic Impact study by Forrester, the consultancy, of Subversion MultiSite revealed a 167 per cent return on investment with a nine-month payback period.

In 2008 Mr Richards moved its European centre from London to Sheffield and has since created more than 40 jobs.

“Most US software companies set up in or around London because the guy they hire to run it lives round there. It’s expensive and you can have high staff turnover,” he said.

“Here we have the cream of the PhDs coming out of the universities and a big catchment area with people coming to work from Manchester, Leeds and Nottingham. “Most of our products are developed in Sheffield. It gives us a competitive edge. We are using the UK as an offshore development centre.”

One benefit is health costs, he said. “We have a huge problem in the US with healthcare. If I take someone on I have to pay $10,000 in health costs.”

One US practice he has adopted is giving employees share options. “People don’t even ask for them here: everyone in the US does. But I want them to feel they are working hard for themselves not just the company.”

Its latest Subversion software has been granted the prestigious Made in Sheffield marque. The city is only one in the world to have its own trademark, dating back to 1624 when Sheffield-made cutlery and tools were bywords for quality.

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