Soft bots propel UK's Blue Prism to RPA elite

Soft bots propel UK's Blue Prism to RPA elite

On the 26th of November, when I meet CEO Alastair Bathgate at the company's offices on the Euston Road in London, shares in Blue Prism stood at £1,405. That was not much more than half the stock's 52-week high of a couple of months earlier but still plenty enough to give it a market capitalisation of well over £1bn ($1.3bn). Not bad for a company that only floated in 2016 at a valuation of about £48m ($61m) on AIM, the alternative market that's generally home to smaller firms.

That remarkable rise testifies to the warm waves of sentiment in favour of the robotic process automation (RPA) segment that Blue Prism helped to pioneer. RPA is being swiftly adopted as a way to automate mundane clerical tasks and rivals such as Automation Anywhere and UiPath have also benefited. The former pocketed a total $550m in VC funding over two rounds this year for a $2.6bn post-money valuation and the latter collected $265m in a recent VC round that valued it at $3bn. 

"The market's growing and not just us," Bathgate says. "There's a drive towards the future based on technology that replicates the activities of human beings. AI and robotics is a sort of zeitgeist focus. Humans have had to adapt to technology and now it's coming the other way. The way we interface with technologies is becoming more human-centric."


Magic numbers

Bathgate says Blue Prism's differentiation is based on having built in guardrails or "a corridor of governance" that help companies to stay compliant with regulations and security needs. For its last half-year, revenues grew 145 per cent to £22.9m ($29.2m) and over 90 per cent of income was of the recurring variety so beloved by the markets because of the relative predictability of subscriptions. A recent trading report dragged down the stock but the numbers are all still positive for key indicators such as software deals (which more than doubled), new customers, upsells and renewals.

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Martin Veitch

Martin Veitch is Contributing Editor for IDG Connect

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