Blue Prism: robotic process automation

28th March 2019

Jason Kingdon, serial AI tech entrepreneur and chairman of Blue Prism – whose software provides automated-digital-workers to the likes of Coca-Cola and Sony — spoke at our Profit Track 100 alumni dinner for founders and shareholders in London. The dinner was co-hosted by Giles Nicholas, managing director, UBS Wealth Management, and Fast Track’s founder Hamish Stevenson.

Jason Kingdon talked about the transformational power of robotic process automation (RPA) and why he was driven to pursue an IPO after failing to attract any private equity interest in a Q&A with our founder, Hamish Stevenson. Blue Prism is currently valued at £1.2bn.

“We IPO’d because our growth was steady – we were loss-making but we were cash generative, which is what the City wanted to see,” he said.

Jason joined Blue Prism in 2008, and the company listed on AIM in 2016, valued at £48.5m. He retains an 8.6% stake and spoke to us about how the company grew almost 25 times during his tenure there.

 

 

Jason will step down as chairman of Blue Prism later this year to concentrate on his other tech interests, including London-based GlassAi and Re:infer, and UCL’s Conception-X programme for AI research start-ups.

While Jason suggested that we are still “an Einstein moment” away from any kind of cognizant AI, he emphasised the transformative value of technology which can replace any human interface: “50% of human work is error correction. If you create a robot, it doesn’t make mistakes provided the policy you gave it was correct. It tells you everything it did and everything it was told to do, so from an audit point of view, it’s perfect.” Rather than being a means of cutting costs down to the bottom line, Jason said RPA – which can be employed in as many sectors as humans can – is a way of enabling human workers to “do more” by freeing them from time-consuming, mundane tasks.

Jason previously founded the financial software developer Searchspace, which he sold to Warburg Pincus for an estimated $140m in 2005, and which appeared on Tech Track 100 four times between 2001 and 2005.

 

Guest insights

Jason shared his insights with 19 owners and shareholders from 19 Profit Track 100 alumni companies, including Mint Velvet, Kampa and Marshall Group.

Jason Collins is co-founder and joint chief executive of Apogee Corporation. In 2016, he helped lead a buyout backed by PE firm Equistone, and last year the business was acquired by HP in a deal valuing it at £380m. Jason remains chief executive, and he spoke to our camera about the experience of retaining his position while Apogee transitions into life as part of a multinational corporation.

 

 

John Treharne is founder, director and former chief executive of The Gym, which he founded in 2008 with £17.5m funding from Bridges Ventures. John floated the company on AIM for £250m in 2015, and it is now valued at £310m. John spoke to us about how, in 2007, he spotted an opportunity for low-cost healthcare which has since seen The Gym grow to 800,000 members.

 

 

A word from our sponsor

Guests enjoyed networking dinner and drinks with representatives from UBS Wealth Management. Giles Nicholas, managing director, welcomed guests and remarked on the volatility of the current market, noting that while the headlines may talk about slowdowns and trade wars, in Q1 2019, “we’ve had the best quarter in equity markets in decades.”

 

 

He advised investors not to try to guess what the markets will do, noting that it is a difficult art. Speaking to the value of investing wealth, Giles said: “In reality, what hurts people is not time in the market, but time out of the market.” While growth may be slow, he said, we are not heading for a recession – the opportunities for growth are still there.

 

More information on the Profit Track 100

For more information about the league table and events programme, see: https://www.fasttrack.co.uk/league-tables/profit-track-100/

For information about our alumni dinners and opportunities for sponsors, visit our sponsorship page: https://www.fasttrack.co.uk/sponsorship/

 

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