Last week Laiye acquired, Mindsay, its third acquisition to date, following the acquisition of Qubit in October 2021 and UIBot in 2019. Though none of these deals have garnered much press or interest to date, we think the industry should be taking note as Laiye itself is a company to watch and one we expect to see much more of in the coming years.
Laiye is essentially an outlier in the RPA & IDP market, a serious vendor with serious funding ($201m Series C) founded in Beijing in 2015. Though it unsurprisingly has a strong foothold in the Chinese and broader Asian market, the last few years have seen the company turn its attention to the US and, to a lesser extent Europe. Most notably, bringing ex Workfusion Executive in as CEO of its international business in 2021. However, co-Founder Guanchun Wang remains the overall CEO & Chairman of the company.
Though Laiye is best known as an RPA vendor (building on its UIBot acquisition), it also has ambitions and indeed products in the IDP market, and with this most recent acquisition of Mindsay, conversational AI. Qubit brings exceptionally advanced skills and technology-focused around Deep Learning to add to the equation.
So here’s the kicker and why we are so interested in this company. Firstly, the bleeding obvious is that it is based in Beijing, and one only has to read a newspaper to know this makes them an unusual player in the US. But geopolitics aside, Laiye keeps coming up in our conversations with enterprises and systems integrators. On the one hand, they run under the radar with little market visibility; on the other hand, they are making inroads, competing directly, and sometimes winning against UIPath, Automation Anywhere & Blue Prism (SS&C). It would be no surprise if IDP vendors and SI’s start regularly encountering them soon. So the question has to be, why? Hundreds of IDP and RPA vendors are vying for attention, why is Laiye cutting through the noise so efficiently? First, as the firm has a big following in China, it has already accumulated a lot of very positive online reviews. Secondly, it is close to or on parity with most other automation platforms, and thirdly it’s relatively cheap and easy to use.
To add some context here, Laiye is still relatively unknown in the US and Europe, but it is kicking off its early entry in a much stronger position than most startups could dream of. Add to this the fact that 200 million dollars is a lot of investment, which goes even further in China than in the US. A top software developer or data scientist will cost half of what they would in the US. And let’s get realistic here, the days of Silicon Valley being the only place that cutting-edge software emerged from are long gone; China and India would both claim to be the real powerhouses today. Controversial, arguable, but there you go. So, in summary, there is a new and earnest player to contend with. One we will continue to watch with great interest over the next few years.
If you are a buyer or user of RPA or IDP and wondering whether to move to the cloud or not, we have a free – yup, totally free – confidential advisory service for you. A service that means all you have to do is to find a time on our calendar.
If you are a technology seller, then, like many others, you may want to reassess your current business, pricing, or go-to-market strategies to adapt to these turbulent times. Again feel free to reach out and chat with us as we may be able to help by providing some critical but constructive advice and support.