Automation Anywhere, which supplies customers with armies of software robots to take over manual tasks such as insurance claims processing, announced today it raised $250 million in a first funding round that set its post-money valuation at $1.8 billion.
The San Jose, CA-based company, begun in 2003 by four co-founders who bootstrapped its funding, has built a customer base of 1,100 firms including Google, GM, Siemens, Cisco Systems, LinkedIn, Comcast, and Juniper Networks.
CEO and co-founder Mihir Shukla says Automation Anywhere started generating revenue early on, and has racked up profits in the past, but it raised the big Series A round now to invest heavily in global expansion.
“We are at an inflection point,” Shukla says.
The fundraising round was led by New Enterprise Associates (NEA) and Goldman Sachs Growth Equity, joined by General Atlantic and World Innovation Lab (WiL).
Shukla says companies sought help from Automation Anywhere during its first months in business because their operations were slow and inefficient due to legacy software, a deluge of data, and too many manual processes. Automation Anywhere customers license a digital workforce of A.I.-powered bots trained to automate process steps running on any application, he says.
Using bots, banks are speeding up mortgage application processing, Shukla says, shrinking the nail-biting wait for applicants from 30 days to 15 or even five days, he says. The “next-day mortgage” is feasible, he says.
Part of Automation Anywhere’s mission, Shukla says, is also to use the power of automation to “remove the mundane from everybody’s life,” allowing human workers to focus on higher-order tasks. From his own observations, he says, the transformation doesn’t shrink the human workforce at client companies. Such companies attract more applicants, Shukla says, because they move fast and create more jobs.
“The way it’s playing out is exactly the opposite of the way people feared,” Shukla says.
Automation Anywhere, with more than 700 employees, has offices in Boston, Dallas, and New York, as well as global offices in London, Mumbai, Melbourne, Japan, and other locations. It plans to draw in new customers in existing territories and spread out to others.
With its new capital, Automation Anywhere not only plans a geographic expansion, but also aims to continue investing in an already-large research and development team. The company’s robot workers range from “task bots,’’ which take over simpler rules-based operations, to cognitive bots that learn from experience and smooth out existing processes. The data from all that bot activity feeds into a digital analytics function that assesses the effectiveness of the operations.
Shukla says Automation Anywhere’s products have been adopted in a broad range of industries, including banking, financial services, insurance, healthcare, manufacturing, technology, and telecommunications. Improvements can come quickly in these industries, and as word spreads more customers get interested, he says. But the company is also serving customers involved in medical research projects, such as evaluating thousands of drug candidates to find the best ones. Signs of improvements due to bot support take longer to surface in life sciences research, he says, so the adoption curve there can be slower.
Automation Anywhere is a large player competing in a market dubbed Robotic Process Automation. According to a Global Market Insights report cited by the company, that market is on track to reach more than $5 billion by 2024.
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