Key speech for Richards

David Richards, president and chief executive of WANdisco
David Richards, president and chief executive of WANdisco
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Sheffield-born entrepreneur David Richards has been named the keynote speaker at this year’s Yorkshire IoD Director of the Year Awards.

Mr Richards is one of the founders of WANdisco, the cutting edge software development and data handling tools business which operates from California’s Silicon Valley and Sheffield’s Digital Campus.

A spokesman for the Institute of Directors said: “His appearance marks perfect synergy between old and new industries at an event that celebrates the success of traditional and contemporary businesses.

“This year marks the centenary of Stainless Steel discovered by Harry Brearley of Firth Brown who was looking for a corrosive resistant solution for gun barrels in 1912.

“While many regard Sheffield as the home of heavy industrial manufacturing WANdisco, which has headquarters in Sheffield and San Ramon in the US, is a pioneer in new technologies which are helping to drive recovery in the Steel City.”

WANdisco gets its name from its expertise in Wide Area Network Distributed Computing. The company’s Subversion system dominates the software development market and is used by blue chip corporates around the world, that develop commercial software or bespoke administrative packages used in running their own businesses.

Subversion enables developers in different parts of the world to ensure they are all working on the latest development version of enterprise wide software packages.

Its related uberSVN software, developed exclusively at WANdisco’s Electric Works operation in Sheffield, allows developers to integrate a range of commercial software development, debugging, testing, quality assurance and distribution tools.

It also incorporates a social networking facility, similar to Twitter, which enables software developers to let colleagues know about improvements they have added and allows developers to communicate with the system using smartphones and tablet computers like the iPad.

More recently, the firm moved into the “Big Data” sector. Big Data applications include analysing economic trends, combating disease and crime, predicting the weather and complex problems in physics, where the collections of data that are being used are so large that they would be difficult or impossible to store and manipulate locally on desktop computers.

David Richards has grown WANdisco from a start up, whose key backer was his wife, into an organisation that was valued at £37 million when it was floated on the Alternative Investment Market last year and is now estimated to be worth £125m.

Nominations for the Yorkshire IoD awards have opened and will close on Friday, May 31. Awards will be presented at a ceremony at Kelham Island Museum on Thursday, September 5.

Previous award winners include two Sheffield Forgemasters directors.

Chief executive Dr Graham Honeyman won the award in 2009 and went on to win the inaugural national Director of the Year Award in 2010.

Gareth Barker, managing director of Sheffield Forgemasters’ Forge Division was the Yorkshire IoD Young Director of the Year in 2011 and highly commended last year.