Standing on the Shoulders of Giants-WANdisco / uberSVN Achieves the ‘Made in Sheffield’ Mark.

In the 1740s Benjamin Huntsman developed a new technique for producing steel called crucible steel in his workshop in Sheffield, England.  Prior to this, Sheffield produced about 200 tonnes of steel per year.  Move on a hundred years, and, using Huntsman’s technique the amount had risen to over 80,000 tonnes per year – almost half of Europe’s total production.  Sheffield evolved from a small town into one of Europe’s leading industrial cities and England’s 4th largest city.

Sheffield was at the heart of the industrial revolution that started in Great Britain and spread to the rest of the world.

We are truly honored today because we have been given the right to use the “Made in Sheffield” mark in conjunction with our uberSVN product.  Dating back as early as 1297 the Made in Sheffield mark is awarded for high quality products made in the city.

Of course the initial intent of the mark was primarily to recognize the superior quality of the steel products made in the city.  But I’m delighted that the committee recognized that we have a new industrial revolution based on tech.  The first iteration was a ‘faux-revolution‘ – most of the dot-coms really weren’t doing anything sustainable or revolutionary.  But the one’s that survived and prospered really are.  Amazon is the world’s largest online retailer by a country mile, while Google and eBay dominate.  Not so sure about the likes of [spent $188m in 6 months and then went pop], or webvan though.

Machine-based manufacturing in the late 18th century enabled the second, more explosive part of the industrial revolution with the development of steam-powered ships, railways, and later the internal combustion engine and electrical power generation.

A similar pattern is emerging in the tech revolution.  The creation of the world wide web as a pervasive network is revolutionizing almost every aspect of commerce.  This revolution started in Silicon Valley and spread quickly to every corner of the globe.

One of the side effects is that smart companies realize that location alone no longer provides significant competitive advantage.  Code developed in India and China is as good as code developed in Silicon Valley.  We took what some perceived to be a unusual step of moving our software development center to Sheffield a couple of years ago.  I think it’s very strange that so many US companies automatically locate their UK HQ in London or even Bracknell for goodness sake.   The UK in general loves to sterotype and apparently people in Sheffield live like the guys in “The Full Monty”, wear flat caps and breed whippets.  Do people in London spend all of their time rioting and looting shops I wonder?

The move for us paid immediate and tangible dividends.  Our award-winning uberSVN product is “Made in Sheffield”.  It’s terrifically successful with tens-of-thousands of downloads taking the software development tools space by storm.

Being born in Sheffield and coming from a long line of steel people this award probably means more to me than most.  I am very proud to be Made in Sheffield.


About David Richards

David is CEO, President and co-founder of WANdisco and has quickly established WANdisco as one of the world’s most promising technology companies. Since co-founding the company in Silicon Valley in 2005, David has led WANdisco on a course for rapid international expansion, opening offices in the UK, Japan and China. David spearheaded the acquisition of Altostor, which accelerated the development of WANdisco’s first products for the Big Data market. The majority of WANdisco’s core technology is now produced out of the company’s flourishing software development base in David’s hometown of Sheffield, England and in Belfast, Northern Ireland. David has become recognised as a champion of British technology and entrepreneurship. In 2012, he led WANdisco to a hugely successful listing on London Stock Exchange (WAND:LSE), raising over £24m to drive business growth. With over 15 years' executive experience in the software industry, David sits on a number of advisory and executive boards of Silicon Valley start-up ventures. A passionate advocate of entrepreneurship, he has established many successful start-up companies in Enterprise Software and is recognised as an industry leader in Enterprise Application Integration and its standards. David is a frequent commentator on a range of business and technology issues, appearing regularly on Bloomberg and CNBC. Profiles of David have appeared in a range of leading publications including the Financial Times, The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail. Specialties:IPO's, Startups, Entrepreneurship, CEO, Visionary, Investor, ceo, board member, advisor, venture capital, offshore development, financing, M&A

4 Responses to “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants-WANdisco / uberSVN Achieves the ‘Made in Sheffield’ Mark.”

  • Great blog post David. It’s frustrated me for years that as England’s 4’th largest city (something which most folk don’t seem to know) we get continually overlooked in favour of Leeds and our smaller neighbour, Manchester.

    And yes, great software can be developed anywhere. After 14 years in Sheffield Technology Parks, we moved out to the Hope Valley last year. It’s like Silicon Valley but with more sheep!

  • Couldn’t agree more, although it has to be said; software development has been a burgeoning industry in Sheffield for a long while now.

    While US companies do tend to immediately think of “London, Engerland” as the prime location we have quite a crop of home grown companies in the Steel City – A good example is a client we have been working with for around fifteen years: Safe Technology are a World leader in fatigue analysis software who’s products are used as industry standard in the States, China and across Europe.

    The company didn’t re-locate to Sheffield – it was born here – and in all the years we have worked with them I’ve never seen a flat cap around the office or a whippet tied to the bike rack.

  • Interesting blog, I am I guess one of the many people who was born in Sheffield but for whatever reason felt the need to leave the city in order to develop our careers. In my field, accountancy, Leeds and Manchester are streets ahead of Sheffield and I have always wondered why. I remember speaking to a client years ago who had tried to develop part of his business in Sheffield and found it was very difficult – he blamed a strong masonic culture !

    So that is part of the problem, talented people are drawn away from the area.

    You are right about Bracknell though

  • @Tony couldn’t agree more. At one time Geography was important, but not any more. In our business availability of intellectual capital is important. With 2 top universities and thousands of students Sheffield has this in abundance.

    @Dave Sheffield does have some great companies. Burgeoning in relative terms (reading, Bracknell, etc) – not so sure – given the size of the city, etc.

    @Kevin I don’t buy into those conspiracy theories. Leeds an Manchester are able to Market themselves as having certain percieved advantages. Now, with more than adequate central government spending, sheffield should be at least on par with look & feel.

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