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Darktrace emits travelling salesman omens

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A man types on a computer keyboard in a February 28, 2013 illustration photo. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

LONDON, Sept 15 (Reuters Breakingviews) - The travelling IT salesman may be a dying breed. Darktrace (DARK.L) shares soared nearly 10% on Wednesday after the $6.5 billion British cybersecurity firm raised its sales and margin forecasts for the year ahead. Revenue in the 12 months to June surpassed expectations, growing 41% to $281 million. But the Cambridge-based group, which uses machine learning to detect anomalies in IT systems, also benefitted from a 92% collapse in travel and entertainment costs due to pandemic movement restrictions. Chief Executive Poppy Gustafsson now expects an adjusted EBITDA margin of 2%-5%, from 1%-4% previously.

Before the outbreak of Covid-19, her army of salespeople schmoozed clients in high-end hotel suites and technology jamborees. When Covid struck, they retreated to Zoom, yet still pulled in new business. Over the past year, Darktrace’s customer base swelled 45%. A technology company splashing out on plane tickets and hotel rooms to win contracts always had questionable logic. Darktrace’s experience closes the argument. (By Aimee Donnellan)

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Editing by Ed Cropley and Oliver Taslic

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