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Hot software startup UiPath erases the bad taste of a lower IPO value

April 21, 2021, 10:21 PM UTC

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In the pricing of its initial public offering on Tuesday, software automation company UiPath was valued at $31 billion, slightly below the $35 billion valuation of its most recent private financing. But in initial trading Wednesday, investors quickly erased the shortfall.

On their first day of trading, UiPath’s shares closed up 23% at $69, giving the company a market cap of over $38 billion.

The money raised in the IPO— $1.3 billion—is intended to fuel UiPath’s already rapid growth. Customers are increasingly using its software to turn laborious data entry and other manual processes into speedy computer-driven automation.

The lowered valuation came after some already public software companies suffered serious declines early in the year. Shares in cloud database developer Snowflake, for example, traded at over $350 in December and still at $314 in early February. On Tuesday, they closed at $225.22, down 28% from the February peak.

“It’s a very good market to raise money even if it’s not at the same level as in January and February—it’s still really solid,” UiPath CEO Daniel Dines told Fortune on Wednesday afternoon.

The COVID pandemic didn’t slow UiPath’s rapid growth much. While retail and hospitality sector customers reduced spending on digital automation, healthcare and government customers boosted their spending. For its most recent fiscal year ended Jan. 31, the company’s revenue almost doubled to $607 million and its net loss shrunk to $92 million from $520 million the year before.

Dines points out that UiPath also pitched in to help fight the pandemic by making healthcare workers more efficient. Automating a process to register patients for a drive-up COVID testing center run by the Cleveland Clinic cut average wait times to 50 seconds from three minutes. And an automatic system for disseminating COVID test results to patients at Mater Hospital in Ireland cut the amount of time per day nurses had to spend on the task from three hours to six minutes.

But Dines, who grew up in Romania under dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu, aims to go beyond just automating existing manual processes to improve productivity. The programmer who got his first job in America at Microsoft in Seattle wants newer businesses to build their entire workflows on top of UiPath’s software, skipping manual data entry altogether.

“Our vision is that the next generation of enterprises will even build their processes, their businesses, on top of our platform,” he says. “In the next five years, most manual repetitive tasks can be automated. That will completely transform the job of knowledge workers today. They will be more productive, and their engagement will be way higher.”

Ultimately, he’s shooting for the highest tier of business software, one he worked on back in his Microsoft days before starting UiPath in 2005. “Maybe we will build the next Microsoft Excel for business users,” Dines says.