08 Mar 2018 James Titcomb, The Telegraph

WANdisco looks to the East with Alibaba tie-up

WANdisco, the British technology company, has secured a tie-up with Alibaba that will grant it access to China’s booming online market.

The Aim-listed cloud computing outfit, which splits its operations between Sheffield and Silicon Valley, reached a deal with the Chinese internet giant that will see its technology bundled with Alibaba’s cloud services.

Alibaba is best-known for its Chinese internet retail empire, but also is rapidly emerging as a challenger to Amazon, Microsoft and Google in cloud computing - services that let start-ups and other businesses rent out online storage and computing capacity. Its cloud revenues doubled last year, making it the fastest-growing of the major providers.
WANdisco’s technology is used to move large amounts of data into the cloud in real time, without interfering with day-to-day operations and is used by banks and other companies that have reams of complicated and sensitive data.

The company endured a bruising boardroom battle 18 months ago when its chief executive David Richards was forced out by the company’s chairman Paul Walker in a row over its strategy. Mr Richards returned a week later with the support of major shareholders, leading Mr Walker to resign.

Since then, shares have more quadrupled and WANdisco has struck a string of deals with companies including IBM and Dell to sell on its software to their own customers. The company now makes most of its revenues through these deals, instead of selling its technology directly.

On Wednesday the company said revenues full-year revenues had grown 73pc to $19.6m (£14.1m). Operating losses fell from $17.9m to $9.7m, although financing costs, largely due to the pound’s rise against the dollar, meant pre-tax losses rose to $14m. Mr Richards said it had been a “pivotal year” in which the company had seen “perfect execution”.

Mr Richards now serves as both chief executive and chairman, avoiding a repeat of 2016’s boardroom scuffle, but said he was taking steps to add non-executive directors to the company. “We’re not rushing in and making snap decisions that don’t work very well,” he said. “We’ve got a very strong board.”

The majority of WANdisco’s shareholders are based in the US and the company is believed to have considered a dual listing. Mr Richards said this was still an option, but suggested interest in such a move had cooled, saying it “is not really on the agenda”.