London’s Tech City isn’t necessarily the best place to find talented developers in the UK, according to the CEO of fast-growing software firm Anaplan.
Speaking at the opening of the company’s new “San Francisco-style” R&D centre in the historic city of York, Anaplan CEO Fred Laluyaux claimed that Silicon Roundabout is too competitive and full of the wrong type of people.
“If you go to those places there is so much competition and phony people and that’s not good for us,” he said.
He added that places like Tech City are good if you’re in for a “quick buck” or if you’re trying to set up a company that you want to sell to someone like Oracle (who may be put off by a start-up based somewhere like York).
Anaplan, which targets its cloud-based planning and operations platform at large enterprises, was founded in a Yorkshire barn in 2006 by CTO Michael Gould, before expanding and relocating its headquarters to San Francisco, California.
“Our experience with San Francisco is that there’s a lot of competition and a very volatile market with people moving jobs,” said Gould. "Here in York it can take a bit longer to find people but there are certainly incredibly talented people to be found in the area and we tend to get a very good retention rate.”
Having raised $150 million (£88 million) in funding since its birth, with the help of strategic investors like Salesforce and Workday, Anaplan now claims to have 20,000 users and roughly 200 businesses on its platform, including 40 to 50 in the UK. Big name customers include HP, Aviva and Procter and Gamble.
Prior to opening the new office in an old warehouse on the banks of the River Ouse, Anaplan had a space in a barn located some distance outside the city centre.
“We could have said two years ago let’s keep that office super small, with 10 people or so, and do an office in Silicon Ring or whatever it’s called,” said Laluyaux. “But I said to Michael, that we should build the office in York where we have a phenomenal university, an incredible engineering talent pool and where people are going to be eager to join a cool company.”
The new office in York is currently home to approximately 40 staff but that’s expected to rise to 80 or 90 in the near future. At the start of this year Anaplan employed 200 people globally but Gould told Techworld that this figure is likely to rise to 350 by the end of the year in order to meet what he describes as “huge demand”.
Those based in the York office, situated a short walk from the city’s well-connected train station and within the famous City Walls, will be tasked with the majority of the company's product development and engineering.
“Our first employee was actually from York University,” said Gould. “We also have one young woman that came with a PhD from the computer science department there. She must have been the fifth or sixth person on the team and she’s absolutely fantastic.”
Cllr James Alexander, leader of City of York Council, said: “Anaplan’s expansion in York is a real success story, not only for the company but for the city. It brings with it further highly skilled jobs and will be a significant addition to York’s strong, diverse and growing economy.
“We continue to work hard with partners in the city to ensure that York has the right environment to attract, retain and grow businesses; whether through improvements to our digital and physical infrastructure or in ensuring access to city-wide training and development opportunities. Today’s announcement is further proof that York is a place businesses want to be located to thrive”.