Blue Prism acquires UK’s Thoughtonomy for as much as $100M to increase its RPA platform with extra AI

Robotic course of automation — which lets organizations shift repetitive back-office duties to machines to finish — has been a sizzling space of development on this planet of enterprise IT, and now one of many firms that’s making waves within the space has acquired a smaller startup to proceed extending its capabilities.

Blue Prism, which helped coin the time period RPA when it was based again in 2001, has introduced that it’s shopping for Thoughtonomy, which has constructed a cloud-based AI engine that delivers RPA-based options on a SaaS framework. Blue Prism is publicly traded on the London Stock Exchange — the place its market cap is round £1.three billion ($1.6 billion), and in a statement to the market alongside its half-year earnings, it stated it will be paying as much as £80 million ($100 million) for the agency.

The deal is coming in a mix of money and inventory: £12.5 million payable on completion of the deal, £23 million in shares payable on completion of the deal, as much as £20 million payable a yr after the deal closes, as much as £4.5 million in money after 18 months, and a ultimate £20 million on the second anniversary of the deal closing, in shares. Thoughtonomy had by no means raised exterior funding, though that was not for lack of curiosity.

“We’ve had approaches on a daily basis since the intelligent automation market has exploded,” stated Terry Walby, CEO and founder of Thoughtonomy, in an interview, “but getting the best outcome for the company and our customers is not just about taking money and headlines [touting] our valuation.”

The acquisition comes about six months after Blue Prism introduced it will be raising around $130 million (£100 million) to proceed rising at a time when RPA is getting plenty of consideration out there. Linda Dotts, the corporate’s SVP of worldwide companion technique and applications, right this moment confirmed that it did increase that cash, and that a part of the proceeds of which might be getting used to make the Thoughtonomy acquisition. She additionally confirmed that it will be taking a look at different alternatives, an indication that we’re seemingly going to see at the least a little bit extra consolidation on this area.

On the identical day that it had introduced that fundraise, Blue Prism additionally unveiled a brand new AI initiative, working with companions to execute on that. And certainly that’s what it’s getting with Thoughtonomy. The firms have been already working collectively earlier than this — Thoughtonomy’s different key companions are firms like Microsoft’s Azure and Google Cloud, used to ship its providers — and in keeping with Walby, the thought is that his startup can be serving to Blue Prism get its providers to the subsequent stage of the place RPA goes.

“We provide architectural support and add intelligence,” he stated in an interview. “Our platform addresses activities that require understanding or interpretation, and so it expands the use cases for RPA beyond structured processes.”

That’s notable, given the place of Blue Prism inside the RPA panorama. The firm is without doubt one of the extra legacy suppliers — one of many penalties of being an early mover — and whereas that offers it a transparent benefit of displaying it has endurance, on this planet of software program that may be a tougher promote when youthful firms are constructing tech from scratch on newer frameworks. (UiPath, which has made main inroads into RPA each by way of its customer and partner growth, in addition to in terms of its funding, is one instance.)

And in a market that’s nonetheless seeing development (learn: firms typically function at a loss to put money into that development), its ups and downs are there for everybody to see and scrutinise. In its half-year earnings that it posted right this moment, its adverse EBITDA margin widened as soon as extra — gross sales, advertising and marketing and different enterprise growth efforts come at a price, for one — though group revenues additionally practically doubled to £41.6 million from £22.9 million in the identical interval a yr earlier. Total buyer numbers are up 91% over the identical interval a yr in the past, and with gross sales returns usually taking about 12 months to come back by way of on the stability sheet, the longer-term image is price watching, too.