Robots A top UiPath exec called its recent layoffs a ‘natural part of the evolution.’ Here’s how the hot AI startup now plans to scale in 2020.

Robots A top UiPath exec called its recent layoffs a ‘natural part of the evolution.’ Here’s how the hot AI startup now plans to scale in 2020.

Robots

  • UiPath was riding high at the start of 2019 with a $568 million funding round, but it shocked the tech community when the company announced in October it was cutting 400 jobs.
  • The step was taken to weed out employees who were good for the “scrappy” startup mode but not ideal for scaling the business, according to head of AI products PD Singh.
  • After getting “rid of that baggage,” Singh isn’t anticipating more layoffs.
  • Instead, UiPath — which is valued at $7 billion — is focused on growth. 
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BELLEVUE, WASHINGTON — At the start of 2019, UiPath announced a $568 million funding round — valuing the startup at $7 billion.

It quickly became the World’s most-funded AI startups and was hailed by analysts as nearly unbeatable in its offerings. The company specializes in robotic process automation, which aims to help companies automate common, repetitive, and mundane computer tasks.

Then, in October, UiPath laid off roughly 400 jobs and parted ways with a chief financial officer who had only been at the company since January. The move was aimed at eliminating positions or individuals that were key to achieving success as a startup, but were not suited to help UiPath continue to grow, according to head of AI products PD Singh.

Instead, the firm had to prepare for its future — including a potential initial public offering (or IPO) — and that required individuals with a growth mindset.

Robots PD_UiPath

PD Singh is the head of AI products at UiPath

UiPath


“It was just a natural part of that evolution that you needed to get rid of that baggage,” he told Business Insider at UiPath’s Bellevue, Washington, office. “These things are natural. This was a startup which was working in a very scrappy mode … but that’s not how things eventually would be done in a company which is either IPO’ing or post-IPO.”

Singh did not expect any additional layoffs in 2020, but noted that anything was possible. “Everybody is dispensable here, including me,” he said. “If there’s one thing I’ve learned in technology, you shouldn’t get hung up about layoffs.”

Instead, UiPath is looking to put those layoffs behind them and scale the business in 2020. Last year, “we put good stakes in the ground in terms of the product lanes that are needed by our customers,” Singh said, adding that this year will be all about “scaling the installation of those product lines.”

Singh — a former head of product at Microsoft who joined UiPath in 2018 — outlined the three steps the company is taking to grow.

Robots Get more use cases

RPA has the potential to save companies hundreds of millions of dollars every year in reduced operating costs. But for UiPath to grow, Singh says it needs to find more real-World examples to tout.

“With RPA being a fledgling industry — and AI itself being a fledgling industry — one of the things that’s going to make us not be too buzzy or not be too frothy is real use cases. And real use cases working at scale,” he said.

UiPath already has big-name clients using its platform. Chevron, for example, is using RPA in a limited capacity to automatically open email attachments and upload them to a common database, a project they want to scale to the whole enterprise.

Japan’s Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation is also using the technology to save an estimated $500 million annually by the end of 2020.

Robots Build out partnerships

Similar to how developers helped populate the app store for iPhone, UiPath is hoping to expand its network of partners that can build upon its own platform.

“Having that partner network is super important,” said Singh. “In the AI team right now, I have [an] initiative to light up our strategic [global systems integrators] that we will train” to use UiPath’s offerings to develop custom solutions for clients.

That goal is relatively easy, he added, because the company can focus on high-demand verticals based upon how quickly the industries can adopt the tech.

Healthcare, for example, is much more highly regulated and has a higher barrier of entry for new applications. On the other hand, oil and gas companies can typically implement technology much faster.

Robots Continuous innovation

Singh is confident in UiPath’s current product line, but says a goal will be to continue meeting customer demands for new offerings.

“If you have a good sense of what your customers want and you keep innovating in the direction of the customer need, that’s what makes your company the top company in the World,” he said.

UiPath gets ample feedback from clients to help inform future development. A key metric is daily active robots, which simply refers to how many models are currently in use. The company is also active on forums with developers to learn about pain points with its tools, and it offers select customers private previews of offerings not yet ready for primetime.

“We have about 150 different models that are in production,” Singh said.

If you are an individual who was laid off from UiPath (or a current employee) and would like to share your experience at the company, I can be reached at [email protected] or on Signal/WhatsApp at (309) 265-6120. 

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