‘No code’ process automation platform, Leapwork, fires up with $62M Series B

Copenhagen-based process automation platform Leapwork has snagged Denmark’s largest ever Series B funding round, announcing a $62 million raise co-led by KKR and Salesforce Ventures, with existing investors DN Capital and Headline also participating.

Also today it’s disclosing that its post-money valuation now stands at $312M. 

The ‘no code’ 2015-founded startup last raised back in 2019, when it snagged a $10M Series A. The business was bootstrapped through earlier years — with the founders putting in their own money, garnered from prior successful exits. Their follow on bet on ‘no code’ already looks to have paid off in spades: Since launching the platform in 2017, Leapwork has seen its customer base more than double year on year and it now has a roster of 300+ customers around the world paying it to speed up their routine business processes.

Software testing is a particular focus for the tools, which Leapwork pitches at enterprises’ quality assurance and test teams.

It claims that by using its ‘no code’ tech — a label for the trend which refers to software that’s designed to be accessible to non-technical staff, greatly increasing its utility and applicability — businesses can achieve a 10x faster time to market, 97% productivity gains, and a 90% reduction in application errors. So the wider pitch is that it can support enterprises to achieve faster digital transformations with only their existing mix of in-house skills. 

Customers include the likes of PayPal, Mercedes-Benz and BNP Paribas.

Leapwork’s own business, meanwhile, has grown to a team of 170 people — working across nine offices throughout Europe, North America and Asia.

The Series B funding will be used to accelerate its global expansion, with the startup telling us it plans to expand the size of its local teams in key markets and open a series of tech hubs to support further product development.

Expanding in North America is a big priority now, with Leapwork noting it recently opened a New York office — where it plans to “significantly” increase headcount.

“In terms of our global presence, we want to ensure we are as close to our customers as possible, by continuing to build up local teams and expertise across each of our key markets, especially Europe and North America,” CEO and co-founder Christian Brink Frederiksen tells TechCrunch. “For example, we will build up more expertise and plan to really scale up the size of the team based out of our New York office over the next 12 months.

“Equally we have opened new offices across Europe, so we want to ensure our teams have the scope to work closely with customers. We also plan to invest heavily in the product and the technology that underpins it. For example, we’ll be doubling the size of our tech hubs in Copenhagen and India over the next 12 months.”

Product development set to be accelerated with the chunky Series B will focus on enhancements and functionality aimed at “breaking down the language barrier between humans and computers”, as Brink Frederiksen puts it

“Europe and the US are our two main markets. Half of our customers are US companies,” he also tells us, adding: “We are extremely popular among enterprise customers, especially those with complex compliance set-ups — 40% of our customers come from enterprises banking, insurance and financial services.

“Having said that, because our solution is no-code, it is heavily used across industries, including healthcare and life sciences, logistics and transportation, retail, manufacturing and more.”

Asked about competitors — given that the no code space has become a seething hotbed of activity over a number of years — Leapwork’s initial response is coy, trying the line that its business is a ‘truly special snowflake’. (“We truly believe we are the only solution that allows non-technical everyday business users to automate repetitive computer processes, without needing to understand how to code. Our no-code, visual language is what really sets us apart,” is how Brink Frederiksen actually phrases that.)

But on being pressed Leapwork names a raft of what it calls “legacy players” — such as Tricentis, Smartbear, Ranorex, MicroFocus, Eggplant Software, Mabl and Selenium — as (also) having “great products”, while continuing to claim they “speak to a different audience than we do”.

Certainly Leapwork’s Series B raise speaks loudly of how much value investors are seeing here.

Commenting in a statement, Patrick Devine, director at KKR, said: “Test automation has historically been very challenging at scale, and it has become a growing pain point as the pace of software development continues to accelerate. Leapwork’s primary mission since its founding has been to solve this problem, and it has impressively done so with its powerful no-code automation platform.”

“The team at Leapwork has done a fantastic job building a best-in-class corporate culture which has allowed them to continuously innovate, execute and push the boundaries of their automation platform,” added Stephen Shanley, managing director at KKR, in another statement.

In a third supporting statement, Nowi Kallen, principal at Salesforce Ventures, added: “Leapwork has tapped into a significant market opportunity with its no-code test automation software. With Christian and Claus [Rosenkrantz Topholt] at the helm and increased acceleration to digital adoption, we look forward to seeing Leapwork grow in the coming years and a successful partnership.”

The proof of the no code ‘pudding’ is in adoption and usage — getting non-developers to take to and stick with a new way of interfacing with and manipulating information. And so far, for Leapwork, the signs are looking good.


By Natasha Lomas

Celonis snares $1B Series D on $11B valuation

Celonis, the late stage process mining software startup, announced a $1 billion Series D investment this morning on an eye-popping $11 billion valuation, up from $2.5 billion in its Series C in 2019, quadrupling its value in just two years.

Durable Capital Partners LP and T. Rowe Price Associates co-led the round with participation from new investors Franklin Templeton, Splunk Ventures and existing investors Arena Holdings. Other unnamed existing investors also participated.

While it was at it, the company announced it was naming experienced financial pro Carlos Kirjner as CFO. Kirjner’s most recent job was at Google where he led finance for ads and other key product areas, according to the company.

The presence of institutional investors like T. Rowe Price and Franklin Templeton and the huge influx of capital could be a signal that this is the last private fund raise for the company before it goes public, and Celonis CEO and co-founder Alexander Rinke did not shy away from IPO talk when asked about it.

“It could be, yeah. It’s kind of tough to predict the future, but look we’re very bullish about the growth and our prospects both as a private — and down the road — a public company, and obviously we now have backers that can invest capital in both [public and private markets],” Rinke told TechCrunch.

Rinke says what’s driving this interest is the tremendous potential of the market even beyond process mining, which he sees as just a starting point for a much larger market. “Process mining where we originated from is really just the gateway to build new processes and better processes for organizations, and as you think about that that’s a much much bigger market that we’re addressing,” he said.

The company’s processing mining software sits at the beginning of the process automation food chain, which includes robotic process automation, no-code workflow and other tools to bring more automated workflows to companies. It’s quite possible that the company could develop other pieces of this or use the new capital to buy talent and functionality, something that Rinke acknowledges is possible now with this much capital behind the company.

Celonis started out by mapping out exactly how work flows through an organization, something that used to take high-priced human consultants months to figure out sitting with employees and watching how work flows. Once a company knows how work moves through an organization, it’s easier to find inefficiencies and places that are ripe for using automation tools. Speeding up that first part of the operation with technology can bring down the cost and accelerate innovation and change.

The company made a huge deal with IBM recently where IBM plans on training 10,000 consultants worldwide to use Celonis tooling. That brings the power of a company the size of IBM to one that is still relatively small in comparison — Rinke thinks they’ll reach 2000 employees by year end — and that could be at least part of the reason investors were willing to pump so much capital into the company.

The company, which recently turned 10, currently has 1000 enterprise customers including Uber, Dell, Splunk (which is also an investor), L’Oreal and AstraZeneca.


By Ron Miller

Celonis pushes beyond process mining into automated workflow tooling

Celonis has made its name as a process discovery company, helping companies understand the way work flows through its systems to expose inefficiencies, but up until now the company has left it to others to solve those problems. Today it announced the first products that help companies improve those workflows automatically.

Alexander Rinke, founder and CEO at Celonis, says customers have been asking the company to go beyond process discovery to something that really helps solve the problems and bottlenecks they were finding.

“Where customers were really pushing us is to take the company from a software that’s showing you all the insights around your business processes, where the friction points are, where things aren’t going as they should be going…” he told TechCrunch.

To that end, the company acquired Banyas last year to give it a way to connect to internal ERP systems more easily, as they were thinking about how to create some process improvement automation apps. The Banyas acquisition gave the company some tools to start thinking about this more deeply.

“We put all of this together — the intelligence, the action, the automation and we solve business goals for certain departments,” Rinke said.

For starters, that involves supply chain and finance, but there are plans for building even more applications this year and beyond. The way it works for starters, is it connects to the company’s transactions systems, whether that’s SAP or Oracle or something similar. This is where the Banyas acquisition really comes into play,

“You can basically put these applications on top of your transaction systems and tell them which business goals you have — like I want to preserve cash or I want to pay on time — and then we analyze the enterprise’s entire processes towards these business goals, and then drive everything, automate things towards these business goals intelligently,” he said.

In addition to the two apps, the company is also announcing that it’s making the platform that the engineering team used to build these apps more broadly available to allow third parties to build their own apps on top of Celonis, and then they will be able to share them in an app marketplace.

If you’re thinking this is moving Celonis into Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Rinke disagrees As he sees it, RPA is about automating all-computer processes. He says the Celonis solutions often have human stopping points in a process, and he sees that as a big difference.

Celonis was founded in 2011 and has raised more than $367 million, according to Crunchbase data. Rinke reports the company has more than 1000 employees now.


By Ron Miller

Camunda hauls in $28M investment as workflow automation remains hot

Camunda, a Berlin-based company that builds open source workflow automation software, announced a €25 million (approximately $28 million) investment from Highland Europe today.

This is the company’s first investment in its 10-year history. CEO and co-founder Jakob Freund says the company has been profitable since Day One, but decided to bring in outside capital now to take on a more aggressive international expansion.

The company launched in 2008 and for the first five years offered business process management consulting services, but they found traditional offerings from companies like Oracle, IBM and Pega weren’t encouraging software developers to really embrace BPM and build new applications.

In 2013 the company decided to solve that problem and began a shift from consulting to software. “We launched our own open source project, Camunda BPM, in 2013. We also offered a commercial distribution, obviously, because that’s where the revenue came from,” Freund explained.

The project took off and they flipped their revenue sources from 80 percent consulting/20 percent software to 90 percent software/10 percent consulting in the five years since first creating the product. They boast 200 paying customers and have built out an entire stack of products since their initial product launch.

The company expanded from 13 employees in 2013 to 100 today with offices in Berlin and San Francisco. Freund wants to open more offices and to expand the head count. To do that, he felt the time was right to go out and get some outside money. He said they continue to be profitable and more than doubled their ARR (annual recurring revenue) in the last 12 months, but knowing they wanted to expand quickly, they wanted the investment as a hedge in case revenue slowed down during the expansion.

“However, we also want to invest heavily right now and and build up the team very quickly over the next couple of years. And we want to do that in in such a quick way that we want to make sure that if the revenue growth doesn’t happen as quickly as as the headcount building, we’re not getting any situation where we would then need to go look funding,” he explained. Instead, they struck while the company and the overall workflow automation space is hot.

He says they want to open more sales and support offices on the east coast of the US and move into Asia as well. Further they want to keep investing in the open source products and the new money gives them room to do all of this.


By Ron Miller

FortressIQ raises $12M to bring new AI twist to process automation

FortressIQ, a startup that wants to bring a new kind of artificial intelligence to process automation called imitation learning, emerged from stealth this morning and announced it has raised $12 million.

The Series A investment came entirely from a single venture capital firm, Light Speed Venture Partners. Today’s funding comes on top of $4 million in seed capital the company raised previously from Boldstart Ventures, Comcast Ventures and Eniac Ventures.

Pankaj Chowdhry, founder & CEO of FortressIQ says that his company basically replaces high-cost consultants, who are paid to do time and motion studies and automates that process in a fairly creative way. It’s a bit like Robotics Process Automation (RPA), a space that is attracting a lot of investment right now, but instead of simply recording what’s happening on the desktop, and reproducing that digitally, it takes it a step further, a process called “imitation learning.”

“We want to be able to replicate human behavior through observation. We’re targeting this idea of how can we help people understand their processes. But imitation learning is I think the most interesting area of artificial intelligence because it focuses not on what AI can do, but how can AI learn and adapt,” he explained

They start by capturing a low-bandwidth movie of the process. “So we build virtual processors. And basically the idea is we have an agent that gets deployed by your enterprise IT group, and it integrates into the video card,” Chowdhry explained.

He points out that it’s not actually using a camera, but it captures everything going on, as a person interacts with a Windows desktop. In that regard it’s similar to RPA. “The next component is our AI models and computer vision. And we build these models that can literally watch the movie and transcribe the movie into what we call a series of software interactions,” he said.

Another key differentiator here is that they have built a data mining component on top of this, so if the person in the movie is doing something like booking an invoice, and stops to check email or Slack, FortressIQ can understand when an activity isn’t part of the process and filters that out automatically.

The product will be offered as a cloud service. Chowdhry’s previous company Third Pillar Systems was acquired by Genpact in 2013.


By Ron Miller