Geek of the Week: David Richards, CEO of WANdisco

WANdisco makes data transfer secure and seamless by enabling enterprises to automate the movement of huge volumes of data to the cloud without any disruption of usual business operations. Any changes made to data sets on site are replicated within cloud environments consistently and at scale. The core of WANdisco’s intellectual property brings together distributed systems to enable applications or environments that would otherwise be incapable of working with one another to coordinate their activities and work toward a shared outcome – such as migrating data to the cloud.

Founded in 2005 by David Richards with Dr. Yetura Aahlad, WANdisco is headquartered in San Ramon, CA and Sheffield, UK. It had $17 million revenue in 2018 with a valuation of $282 million. David is a Sheffield local, having grown up in the town; his father ran a steel business there. As the steel industry faltered in the 1970s and 1980s, David decided to pursue a degree in computer science at the University of Huddersfield. After successfully founding a startup near London, David took his earnings and moved to San Francisco to seek his fortunes in the burgeoning high-tech scene. He launched a variety of startups and other ventures before creating WANdisco with Dr. Aahlad, and together  they grew the company without raising any private equity, venture capital or angel funding. In 2012, the team led WANdisco to a highly successful IPO on the London Stock Exchange, raising $24 million.

David’s ride as CEO hasn’t been without bumps. In September 2016, David faced a coup attempt from his own people. While at a London hotel, his company’s chairman served him with his resignation letter, and offered an ultimatum: go quietly now, or face being fired. David stayed calm, however, and acted quickly. He called key investors, solidified support for his leadership and was returned to CEO within a week. He now finds himself now firmly in charge with the company’s latest collaboration with Databricks to offer their customers continuous data analytics across multiple regions and cloud environments.

And as WANdisco has grown, so has David’s commitment to philanthropy. Like Chuck Feeney and Bill Gates, David’s long-term goal is to give away as much of his wealth as possible. Alongside his wife, Jane, David has set up the David and Jane Richards Family Foundation, which teaches computing and coding skills to young people in David’s hometown of Sheffield. For all the success David has had, it comes back to contributing to his community and providing others with the opportunity to succeed in high-tech as he has.