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SoftBank invests $300 mn in Silicon Valley-based Automation Anywhere
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Four and a half months after raising money in one of the largest Series A rounds in the venture capital ecosystem, Indian-origin founders' Automation Anywhere, based in Silicon Valley, has secured an even bigger amount. The robotic process automation firm, with offices in Bengaluru, Baroda and Mumbai, has raised $300 million from new investor Japan’s SoftBank Vision Fund, valuing Automation Anywhere at $2.6 billion, the company said in a statement on Friday. 

Four and a half months back, in early July, Automation Anywhere had raised $250 million in a Series A round led by New Enterprise Associates (NEA) and Goldman Sachs Growth Equity. The round, which also saw participation from General Atlantic and World Innovation Lab, valued the firm at $1.8 billion (Rs 12,335 crore), putting it among a raft of Indian-led unicorns based in the Silicon Valley. A unicorn is a startup valued at more than a billion dollars, typically in the software or technology sector.

Automation Anywhere competes with UiPath Inc., which is valued at $3 billion. Although both the companies started before 2005, their products have found enterprise acceptance only recently.

Automation Anywhere was founded as Tethys Solutions in 2003 by four Indian-origin entrepreneurs Ankur Kothari, Mihir Shukla, Neeti Mehta Shukla and Rushabh Parmani.

The company offers robotic process automation, which uses software robots to automate entire business operations. 

"Robotic process automation is the most pervasive and frictionless path to delivering artificial intelligence (AI) technologies across the enterprise,” said Mihir Shukla, the co-founder and chief executive at Automation Anywhere. He added that, with the additional funding, the company will be able to leap ahead of competitors.

Shukla, who studied computer software at The Maharaja Sayajirao University in Baroda, is a veteran in Silicon Valley, with more than 25 years in the technology industry. Before Automation Anywhere, Shukla held leadership roles in internet, e-commerce, and wireless companies such as E2Open, Kiva, ISN, Netscape, Infoseek and OmniSky.  

Praveen Akkiraju, managing partner at Softbank Investment Advisers, said, “Enterprises of all sizes are in the midst of a major transition to digital platforms and Automation Anywhere is accelerating this transformation.” 

Kothari, the company's revenue chief, is a computer engineer from the University of Mumbai and a post-graduate in computers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Neeti Mehta Shukla has an MBA degree from Bond University, Australia. Parmani studied computers at University of Wisconsin, Madison, US.

Indian-origin founders' unicorns in Silicon Valley

Several Indian-origin founders have succeeded in creating and growing their startups to unicorn status in Silicon Valley.

In June, SoftBank's Vision Fund led a $250 million investment in data storage company Cohesity. The investment, which valued the firm at more than $1 billion, took the company's total fundraising to $410 million.

The company was founded by Mohit Aron in 2013. Aron was previously the co-founder of Nutanix, another unicorn startup by Indian-origin founders, which went for initial public offering (IPO) in 2016.

Nutanix was co-founded by Dheeraj Pandey in 2009, along with Aron and Ajeet Singh. The company had raised more than $300 million from venture capital firms and $230 million from IPO. Nutanix exceeded market expectations during its Nasdaq debut in September 2016 to hit a $5 billion valuation.

Palo Alto-based ThoughtSpot, an AI-driven analytics firm led by Nutanix co-founder Singh, wanted to raise only $70 million (Rs 471 crore) but ended up with more than double that sum at $145 million (Rs 975 crore). The amount eventually helped the company, with a Bengaluru research and development centre, put itself among a raft of Indian-led unicorns based in Silicon Valley, with a value of over $1 billion (Rs 6,727 crore).

Early last year, networking giant Cisco Systems acquired San Francisco-based AppDynamics Inc., an application intelligence software company, for nearly $3.7 billion, in one of its largest deals in the past few years. The company was founded by IIT-Delhi graduate Jyoti Bansal in 2008.

Cisco had also acquired hyper-convergence firm Springpath Inc. for $320 million (Rs 2,052 crore). was founded by former VMware executives Mallik Mahalingam and Krishna Yadappanavar in 2012.

Rubrik, founded by Bipul Sinha, Arvind Nithrakashyap, Arvind Jain and Soham Mazumdar in 2015, became a $1.3 billion company after a $180 million round led by Institutional Venture Partners in April 2017.

Incidentally, Sinha was one of the first investors in Nutanix back in 2009. Pandey and Sinha were colleagues at Oracle.

Another Indian-led cloud security startup to break into Silicon Valley’s unicorn club is Netskope, launched by Sanjay Beri in 2012, along with Ravi Ithal, Lebin Cheng and Krishna Narayanaswamy.

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