Robotics firm Automation Anywhere mulls IPO as it expands in Middle East

Exclusive: San Jose-headquartered firm is planning to double employee numbers at its regional Dubai base within the next few months

Ankur Kothari, co-founder and chief revenue officer of Automation Anywhere that announced its Middle East headquarters in Dubai in July this year. Courtesy: Automation Anywhere
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Automation Anywhere, the SoftBank-backed US software company, is getting ready for a potential listing as it puts in place corporate governance structures required for a publicly-traded company, its co-founder said.

"We are placing a robust governance structure to ensure we are ready to go public anytime," Ankur Kothari, co-founder and chief revenue officer of the San Jose-headquartered firm, told The National in an interview.

“As a company, we want to ensure we are absolutely ready whenever we decide [to go public]. We are already operating with a discipline of a public company … putting all infrastructure, leadership and fire power,” Mr Kothari said without specifying the timing, potential size of the deal or the listing destination.

Founded in 2003, Automation Anywhere was valued at $2.8 billion (Dh10.3bn) after a Series A funding round last year. The company, which develops robotic process automation software, raised $550 million from investors including Goldman Sachs, SoftBank, General Atlantic, New Enterprise Associates and World Innovation Labs.

The firm used part of the funding to improve its scientific prowess and expand its footprint into new markets, said Mr Kothari.

“We used it to drive more towards AI [artificial intelligence] bots and for setting up our permanent base in new markets such as the Middle East.”

It plans to use some of the capital for acquisitions as well, said Mr Kothari. “We are looking at creating an ecosystem which is much bigger and allows us to grow wider … connecting with more customers … serving them through automation.”

Automation Anywhere's software-powered bots, which also work in the Arabic language, perform repetitive mundane tasks such as data entry or customer response to free up human employees to tackle more creative work, which the company says can boost productivity and save time.

From its Dubai office, the company seeks to capitalise on growing regional demand and governments' adoption of AI technology.

Digital transformation continues to gain traction in the region, backed by “several government mandates that are fuelling the growth”, said Mr Kothari.

After seeing “an inflection point in our regional business last year, we decided to set up our permanent physical presence in Dubai. There is a huge demand … we have over 40 employees [in Dubai] and we will double the number in next few months.”

The company, however, is also focusing attention on Saudi Arabia — the biggest Arab economy.

It predicts a huge uptake of its products in large government and private enterprises, especially in banking, financial services, healthcare and insurance.

It plans to grow its business in the region where it serves clients such as Emirates NBD and Dubai Asset Management through a mix of direct dealings and use of channel partners.

“We will have 30 to 50 partners only for the Middle East to serve local customers. Although we are in our early days this region will become an important part of our revenue stream,” said Mr Kothari.

“We are targeting up to 300 per cent to 400 per cent yearly growth in Middle East revenue for at least next two to three years,” he added without specifying the number.

Automation Anywhere’s customers include more than 85 per cent of the world’s top banks and financial services companies and 90 per cent of the world’s top healthcare companies. The company expects to deliver three million bots by next year, it said.

The company has more than 2,800 customers globally and nearly 50 of them are based in the UAE. It plans to increase the number of clients in the region to a "few hundred" in about a year’s time, he said.

"To start with, we will focus only on large and mid-sized enterprises,” he noted.