Christopher Adams

Christopher Adams is the Retail, Innovation and Manufacturing reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

NZX listing on cards for Wherescape

Data software company plans to hire more staff after $10m capital injection.

Wherescape chief Michael Whitehead says the company has huge ambitions. Photo / Chris Gorman
Wherescape chief Michael Whitehead says the company has huge ambitions. Photo / Chris Gorman

Cashed up with more than $10 million in fresh capital, Auckland software firm Wherescape is in expansion mode and considering listing on the NZX.

Founded in 2002 by Michael Whitehead and Wayne Richmond, the company develops data warehousing products that allow organisations to store, organise and access large volumes of information.

"Any business decision is easier and less risky if you have the data available to you at the time you want to make that decision," said Whitehead, Wherescape's chief executive.

"We do all the work behind the scenes to bring all that data together and make it available to the people who have to make the decisions."

He said New Zealand investment firm Pioneer Capital had invested "well north of $10 million" in return for a 35.5 per cent stake in the business, which also has offices in the United States, Britain and India.

Wherescape had been profitable from day one and, prior to Pioneer Capital's investment, had self-funded its growth, Whitehead said.

"With Pioneer buying in that gives us the ability to have a war chest and just move a hell of a lot quicker."

Whitehead said an NZX-listing was "absolutely being considered".

"We've got huge ambitions and we're going to need additional capital to fulfil those ambitions," he said.

"One of the main things the board is looking at is how we capitalise, so [a listing] is an option. We will raise capital this year, but whether that's through another private round or a public round is not worked out yet."

Whitehead said the company would prefer to list in New Zealand because a small firm like Wherescape would get equity analyst coverage and be "talked about".

The strong appetite in this country for technology stocks - highlighted by the rapidly rising share prices of companies like Xero and Wynyard Group - was also a plus, he said.

"Market conditions are good, but that's from both sides, the private market and the public market as well. We probably get offers of capital three times a month."

Pioneer's investment would enable the firm to increase its "field operations" and take on new staff, Whitehead said.

He said the company was looking to recruit a chief marketing officer, who would be based in Wherescape's Portland office in the US state of Oregon, while the firm had recently recruited its first chief financial officer.

The investment would also bolster the company's corporate governance, with Pioneer Capital's Matthew Houtman joining the firm as a director and current board member John Quirk stepping up to become chairman, he said.

"We're looking for another independent director at the moment."

Whitehead said Southeast Asia was a key focus area for the firm's international expansion and the company would soon open an office in Singapore.

Wherescape counts Air New Zealand, Sky City Entertainment, ASB, BNZ and the Auckland District Health Board among its local customers.

Almost 80 per cent of its clients are based overseas (52 per cent in the United States), ranging from well known companies like Nike and Barclays Bank to the more obscure Bulgarian Ministry of Finance.

Wherescape's annual revenue is understood to be around $18 million.

- NZ Herald

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