Charleston outfit of software firm made tool to help companies wrangle big data
In a pocket of office space at a downtown technology accelerator, a company within a company is growing.
Workiva (NYSE:WK), a publicly traded firm based in the heartlland, has amassed a small team of about 15 workers at the Charleston Digital Corridor.
Though the corridor’s workspaces are usually reserved for startups, Will Gregg thinks the South Carolina office he runs isn’t too different from a startup. The Workiva vice president of solutions likes it that way.
The company, formerly known as WebFilings, got its start in 2008 to help businesses with their financial disclosures. The Wdesk platform operates on the cloud and allows companies to streamline their data into reports. Accuracy and compliance are essential to publicly traded companies, which are required to make periodic disclosures to the government and investors. The Securities and Exchange Commission said it issued 821 enforcement actions in the 2018 fiscal year.
Today, Workiva says it counts a little more than three-quarters of the top 4,000 publicly traded companies among its customers.
In Charleston, Gregg’s team developed Wdata, which allows users to connect large datasets of information to the Workiva platform, increasing the usefulness of the core product. Wdata received a nod as “technical innovation of the year” from The American Business Awards in June.
Executives at Workiva say the tool has broadened the number of customers the company can reach. CEO Martin Vanderploeg said at a conference earlier this year that Wdata is a “big enabler for our platform.”
“We’ve seen increased deal sizes significantly from it, and we’ve seen a broader scope of the type of data that people put through Wdesk,” he said. “So it’s been a big improvement on our platform.”
Gregg, the locally based VP, is a Clemson University graduate. He’s been working for Ames, Iowa-based Workiva since 2011, doing just about every job he could.
He relocated to Charleston with about five co-workers to the Digital Corridor’s offices in mid-2017. Recently, a wall was knocked down to accommodate the Charleston outpost’s growth.
Workiva went public in 2014 and its shares are listed on the New York Stock Exchange. The company’s revenue has grown every year but it has yet to turn a profit. The company is valued at about $2.6 billion.
Being half a continent away from the “mothership” has been good for the local team, Gregg said. It is a step away from big-company culture, and more like working for a startup.
“It creates a level of focus and intensity,” he said. “I want a young, scrappy, hungry organization.”
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