Could we be witnessing the emergence of a truly giant UK technology company in WANdisco (WAND:AIM)? The answer to this question is one that investors should be pondering. For those not in-the-know, this is a company about always-on connectivity and the tools to eat through the exponential data we are spewing out by the second. It joined AIM last June at 180p – the shares currently change hands for 807p.
While it cut its teeth in innovation, supplying a collaboration software platform called Subversion that effectively allows engineering teams of big companies access to the same open source development systems and projects from anywhere in the world, this is today just one of its opportunities. Bigger still is 'Big Data.' Analysts at research organisation Wikibon reckoned in February that the Big Data market totalled $11.4 billion last year, beating its own forecast. That's seems to be just scratching the surface since Wikibon sees the Big Data space being worth over $18 billion, and has compound average growth rates of 33% pencilled in for the next five years.
The Apache Hadoop open-source platform on which WANdisco's Big Data prospects are built is the very one used by the world's biggest data crunchers. It's the engine that powers your Facebook (FB:NDQ) updates, drives Google (GOOG:NDQ) searches, allows Amazon (AMZN:NDQ) to match buyer to seller... the list goes on. So it's hardly surprising that my eye is caught by WANdisco's breakthrough Big Data deal today, flagged by me in Shares in January (read here). With a UK tier-1 telco apparently, gossip that it's Vodafone (VOD) is pure speculation on my part. But whoever the client, it is a ringing endorsement of WANdisco's technology, and its ambitions.
Chief executive and co-founder David Richards is a brilliant salesman. I don't mean that in the bluster-merchant sort of way that some company bosses flagrantly try to puff up their share price. No, Richards is a builder, but if spending several years living and working in Silicon Valley has taught him anything, it's that a chief executive must be able to capture the imagination of its proposed backers – customers, bankers, analysts, investors, the lot.
I'll happily admit, Richards 'had me' from the first time I met him (something I would usually only say about my girlfriend) in September, and we've bumped into each other several times since at various market events. I'm fascinated every time I hear him tell the WANdisco story, particularly anecdotes about pregnant teenagers (the details of which I forget, but I have the gist), and I tried to pass this on to Shares readers in September (here, page 40).
But it's early stage stuff, a point that must be remembered when you spin through the 2012 full-year figures. The business beat expectations on pretty much every KPI (key performance indicator). Equally strong first quarter KPIs (Q1 bookings +96%), posted last Thursday, provide a the firm footing to Richards' upbeat steer on the future.
How long might the WANdisco dance go? Richards is clear: a $1 billion dollar revenue company. Pulling that off would be an astounding achievement and could potentially see the technology company talked about in the same way we gossip over Apple (AAPL:NDQ), Google, Amazon or Microsoft (MSFT:NDQ). Wouldn't that be just brilliant for UK plc, and not half bad for WANdisco investors, you would presume.