The ‘Chinese UiPath,’ RPA Firm Laiye, Raises USD 42 Million
Robotic Process Automation or RPA was a common term in tech over the past year. RPA is a form of automation that uses metaphorical software robots (bots) or artificial intelligence to perform processes independently.
Laiye (来也) has closed a USD 42 million Series C round of funding, led by Lightspeed and followed by Laiye’s existing investors, edging the company closer to the category leader as the most funded company in Robotic Process Automation (RPA) in China.
While in the western world, such RPA leaders as UiPath (valued at USD 7 billion) and Automation Anywhere (valued at USD 6.8 billion) have raised mega-deals, the niche market in China remains a blue sea with smaller players like i-Search (艺赛旗), Cyclone (弘玑) and EncooTech (云扩科技). Armed with our faith in the rise of the Industry Internet (enterprise marketplace plus software) in China, we believe that the emergence of a Chinese UiPath is destined for the near future.
Laiye looked ready to take up the role when it acquired a smaller competitor, UiBot, and raised USD 35 million in an extended tranche of Series B fundraising in June. Thanks to the merger, Laiye has built a business development (BD) team to serve governments and enterprises with hundreds of employees, and a 300-member delivery & implementation team, according to the firm.
To close a new round in parallel with an acquisition of a competitor has become trendy in China’s Venture Capital (VC) these days (check Yimidida’s funding and merger news here).
The company plans to use this funding to expand the sales and marketing team, as well as make technical improvements.
As a China-born RPA firm, Laiye has been exploring a unique customer and partner base. Finance functions such as account opening, claims processing and payments are most likely to see application of RPA systems, followed by sales, tax and customer service, according to a PwC research; Laiye bets big on government affairs instead.
Since the end of 2019, the company has signed a strategic partnership contract with two state-owned institutions, Digital China (000034: SHE) and AISINOCO. LTD’s (600271:SH) enterprise services division. The division focuses on selling Information Technology (IT) integrated solutions to governments and industries. Meanwhile, the IT and cloud management company Digital China became the largest distributor of Laiye. Laiye has accumulated 200 partners to date.
Open source communities became a trendy concept in Silicon Valley; likewise, RPA communities amass workers, engineers and companies and produce innovative ideas or products. More than 200,000 registered users are in Laiye’s community, the largest in China so far.
The average ticket price of existing clients varies from tens of thousands to millions yuan, depending on the number of robots the client adopts. In 2019, the collected accounts receivable had quadrupled from the previous year, the company told tech media 36Kr (content in Chinese).