UiPath, a robotic process automation (RPA) startup that’s setting out to help companies automate repetitive tasks, has raised $30 million in a Series A round of funding led by Accel, with participation from existing investors, including Earlybird Venture Capital, Credo Ventures, and Seedcamp.
Founded out of Romania in 2012, though now officially based in the U.S., UiPath touts its core raison d’être as bringing automation to the “intelligent enterprise.” It specializes in building what it calls “intelligent software robots” that help businesses complete laborious and repetitive processes through computer vision technology and rule-based processes.
UiPath’s RPA smarts manipulate existing software, including customer relationship management (CRM) tools and enterprise resource planning (ERP) apps, to emulate a specific task typically carried out by a human, be it in HR, accounting, or finance, working at the user interface (UI) level rather than beneath the UI. So these software robots are essentially trained to “look” at the interface, understand what’s going on, and interact with it in a fashion similar to the way a human would.
Allowing machines to carry out such processes on behalf of humans will, according to UiPath, significantly improve “productivity, accuracy, and compliance,” thus enabling employees to “focus on more creative and strategic work.” Needless to say, RPA-powered software robots can operate 24/7, and at a fraction of the cost of their human equivalents.
However, there is surely no guarantee that employees who were once hired specifically to carry out these “repetitive” processes will be suitable for the more “creative and strategic” roles companies may offer. But that is seemingly neither here nor there.
With $30 million now in its coffers, the company plans to double down on its global hiring and product development as it looks to maintain a “leading position in the robotic process automation market,” according to a company statement.
“This investment will allow us to introduce the benefits of intelligent RPA to even more businesses around the world and remain at the forefront of a rapidly advancing industry,” noted Daniel Dines, CEO and founder of UiPath. “We are making work more inspiring and effective for the people that drive our businesses and economies forward, and the potential that remains untapped for organizations is what makes this such an exciting market to work in.”
If this all sounds like the robots are coming to steal our jobs, well, there’s perhaps more than a grain of truth to that. As part of the “fourth industrial revolution,” millions of jobs are expected to be lost to automation, according to a recent World Economic Forum report. The net loss could be as many as five million jobs by 2020, with fields such as manufacturing and production expected to be heavily affected, and another report indicating that more than 100,000 legal jobs will be automated over the next two decades.
UiPath already claims a number of notable enterprise clients, including Lufthansa, Generali, Telenor, and Dong Energy, and has offices in the U.S., Romania, U.K., India, Singapore, and Japan.