Scandal-hit Sheffield tech firm WANdisco has appointed high-profile tech executive Stephen Kelly as interim CEO.

Kelly joined startup Chordiant in 1997 and served as CEO of the NASDAQ-listed business between 2001 and 2005. He served as CEO of MicroFocus plc between 2006 and 2010, followed by a period as chief operating officer of the UK government. 

Returning to the private sector in 2014, he served as chief executive of Sage plc until 2018. According to his LinkedIn profile, Kelly remains as chair of Tech Nation following its acquisition by Founders Forum.

Last week listed WANdisco revealed plans to cut its workforce by 30% following the revelation that a senior sales employee falsified purchase orders. Trading in its shares remains under suspension.

An internal investigation by WANdisco, which is being probed by the Financial Conduct Authority, concluded that recognised revenue of almost $15 million for FY22 was false, and that sales bookings of around $115.5m recorded in FY22 were also false.

The scandal saw co-founder Dave Richards and his finance chief Erik Miller step down, with chairman Ken Lever taking over CEO duties on a temporary basis. Lever will now return to his non-exec position.

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“As a passionate champion of UK tech companies striving to become No.1 on the global stage, I am excited by the prospect of joining WANdisco,” said Kelly. 

“I am a firm believer in the potential of WANdisco’s technology to become a market leader and, whilst there is much work to be done, I have relished my previous UK listed turnaround roles and am proud of the successful transformations, profitable growth and value creation they have delivered.

“I believe Ken has started the rescue, recovery and rebuild process well and, as a team, we have the opportunity to build a high-quality, global UK growth business delivering for all stakeholders.”

WANdisco, which helps businesses to harness the power within their unstructured data using analytics tools powered by artificial intelligence, is headquartered in both Sheffield and California.

The FCA investigation into the firm, which had announced plans to explore an additional listing in New York before the news of potential fraud broke, is ongoing. 

“The board is delighted to have secured someone of Stephen’s calibre and track record to lead WANdisco forward,” said Lever. “All of us remain squarely focused on advancing the workstreams that are designed to lift the current suspension in WANdisco’s shares and position the company for long-term success. 

“I look forward to benefiting from Stephen’s energy and perspectives as we do so.”

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