A picturesque Yorkshire city has a thriving tech community which gave birth to a Silicon Valley unicorn.

Business intelligence and software firm Anaplan was founded in the historic city of York in 2006 by Guy Haddleton and Michael Gould.

The founders were keen to put user experience at the centre of business models and quickly emerged as competition to legacy systems IBM, Oracle and SAP when the software launched in 2010.

Now based in San Francisco, it also boasts offices across Europe and in Australia, Russia, Malaysia and Singapore.

Despite massive international success, with 100,000 users on its books, it has chosen to go back to its roots.

Mark Fordyce, managing director of York Data Services, explained why at a BusinessCloud roundtable 24 miles away in Leeds.

Mark Fordyce

“They are the darlings of Silicon Valley [but] when they opened up the R&D and development side, they chose not to base that in Silicon Valley,” he said.

“It was very, very difficult to recruit staff as half of them were millionaires already… so they brought it back to York.”

The firm’s York base is a 19th Century former warehouse on the bank of the river Ouse.


“We’re seeing the sector’s buoyancy in York. We’ve got that lure of it being a great place to live, a great lifestyle city,” Fordyce added of the North Yorkshire city.

“We see ourselves very much as plugged into Leeds.

“We get all the benefits of all the cool and exciting things that are happening in the tech sector there and we’re part of that Leeds city region story.” 

BELOW: Flick through the August edition of BusinessCloud's interactive digital magazine

BusinessCloud digital edition