Money flowed in and its founder stepped out at Blue Prism this week. It secured £100 million in funding and saw its founder and CEO, Alastair Bathgate depart and join the ScaleUp Group. Jason Kingdon is now the Executive Chairman and CEO of Blue Prism.
RPA is a hot topic during the COVID-19 crisis. Many organisations, including Blue Prism, are delivering solutions to new and existing clients quickly during the pandemic. Bathgate has led the meteoric rise of Blue Prism, leading it through a successful IPO. In the last full year, it nearly doubled revenue to £101 million (from £55.20 million). However, losses also increased. The company ran at an operating loss of £81.40 million. It still has a market cap of over £1 billion though. It is possible that those losses are one of the reasons why Bathgate is leaving. That said, if revenues continue to climb, investors will be less worried by current losses. Assuming that is it can provide profit down the road.
Bathgate seemed regretful stating: “Whilst, after 18 extremely enjoyable years, I am sad to be stepping out of an executive role, I remain a fervent supporter and major shareholder of Blue Prism and will be cheering from the sidelines, as well as being available to advise and assist where needed.
“I am also looking forward to working with other UK tech companies and helping them to scale. The team we built at Blue Prism is world class; I know the Company is in safe hands and well positioned to continue to grow and dominate the software category that we created.”
How will Blue Prism use the new funding?
The press release stated: “The funding will be used to further strengthen and protect Blue Prism’s balance sheet during a period of uncertainty for the wider economy, while allowing continued investment in the innovation of its dedicated enterprise intelligent automation suite.”
Kingdon remains bullish. It will be interesting to see what the profitability of the company is at the end of the current year, and what changes he makes to achieve that. He commented: “In this environment, our Digital Workers are arguably more important than ever in driving organizational adaptation and resilience, and our role as a strategic technology partner to our customers in many ways becomes more emphasized.
“The capital raised positions us a strong partner to our enterprise customers as they increasingly look to securely scale beyond a simple Proof of Concept (PoC) while leveraging leading-edge AI and cognitive capabilities.”
A new life ScaleUp Group
Bathgate joins the ScaleUp group, following in the footsteps of several UK tech entrepreneurs. The organisation aims to help UK technology start-ups to scale to unicorn status and beyond on the global market. While the UK has a great success with startups, few (Blue Prism is one exception) make it to unicorn status.
Bathgate commented: “I worked with John O’Connell, Founder of ScaleUp Group, when Blue Prism was a Platinum Sponsor of the Enterprise Awards, which John created, and previously in his role as Chairman of ActiveOps. I am a staunch believer in UK Tech and have great empathy with today’s generation of tech founders and I want to see them succeed. I am delighted to now have the opportunity to contribute in an advisory role whenever I can help smooth the sometimes rocky path to ultimate greatness.”
John O’Connell, Executive Chairman of ScaleUp Group responded: “Alastair is a very current role model for any aspiring tech entrepreneur in the B2B sector, whose overnight success of 14 years is only slightly less than mine with Staffware! Being brave enough to create and preserve with the whole new category of RPA and then retain its independence, rather than ‘selling out’ takes vision, stamina and intestinal fortitude- plus execution capability of the highest order. I believe our clients will draw the utmost inspiration from his success, believing a UK business can be a leader in its field on the world stage.
“Alastair exemplifies vividly what ScaleUp Group is all about – encouraging and guiding ambitious, high growth early-stage tech businesses with the potential to become Global Champions. I am very proud to welcome him into our membership of illustrious entrepreneurs and executives. I am sure he will also enjoy the freedom of not having the 24 x 7 executive responsibility anymore!”
Enterprise Times: What does this mean
Blue Prism achieved much under Bathgate. It helped to create the RPA market almost alone and is a major UK success story. The market is becoming increasingly crowded. However, Blue Prism, alongside UiPath and Automation Anywhere are still the market leaders.
Blue Prism’s loss is ScaleUp’s gain. He is a strong addition to the ScaleUp team. Meanwhile, O’Connell needs to steer Blue Prism through the COVID-19 crisis. He may, after that, consider whether to continue in the role or seek a new CEO.