Daniel Dines SuccessStory
From living through Communist Romania in the 1980s to launching a successful software company in the 2010s, Daniel Dines overcame many great struggles to get to where he is today. He now runs UiPath, a company specializing in robotic process automation (RPA) which recently obtained a valuation of $35 billion.
Daniel Dines was born in the Romanian capital of Bucharest in 1972. At the time, the country had been under Communist rule for over 30 years. A son of a teacher and civil engineer, Dines together with his parents were relocated by dictator Nicolae Ceausescu to a factory town. By the 1980s, the country saw nationwide food shortages and power cuts as well as a bloody revolution that led to the execution of Ceausescu and his wife.
Dines entered college in 1990 just after Communist rule ended in the country. He took up his bachelor’s at the University of Bucharest but only had an interest in computer science and math. Although he skipped most of his other classes, he still managed to graduate and later enrolled in a master’s program at the same university.
While at college during the first few years of post-Communist Romania, Dines supported himself as an arbitrager of the country’s inflationary currency. He bought goods when they were cheaper in Bucharest and sent them home with an additional markup. He then set up a job listings business during the mid-90s.
Dines found moderate success from his small business but was not satisfied with how his career was eventually going. But he would find an opportunity to forge a new career path after hearing that coders in the Romanian capital were paid $300 a month for working on outsourced projects from U.S. tech companies. With a C++ book borrowed from the library and a laptop borrowed from a friend, Dines began to teach himself programming. His new career would give him a ticket to have a better life outside of Romania as he was given an offer by Microsoft to work in the United States.
In 2001, Dines moved to the U.S. and began working in Microsoft’s headquarters in Seattle. Despite working for one of the world’s top tech companies, Dines found the language barrier to be the most challenging part of his work which he even described as “terrible.” In a recent interview, he recalled that he “only understood around 50% to 60% to what people were saying during meetings which made worse since he could not speak English himself.” He also discovered that some words like “folder” didn’t just pertain to Windows icons.
UiPath Co-founder and CEO
After four years, Dines left Microsoft and returned to Bucharest to start the company that would eventually become the UiPath company. Starting as DeskOver in 2005, the company’s operations revolved around tech outsourcing as well as the selling of software development kits (SDKs). DeskOver would lose its largest outsourcing customer in 2011 but instead of shutting down, Dines decided to focus on the SDKs from the suggestion from a previous DeskOver customer. That same customer would suggest how SDKs in general don’t just help engineers build apps faster but how it also trains software to mimic basic tasks without the need of an actual engineer.
The tide immediately shifted in favor of Dines and his business partner Marius Tirca. DeskOver was renamed to UiPath and the company was now all-in in the virtual robot business (or RPA as specifically coined by a company named BluePrism which also started developing a similar software). Tirca was also promoted to co-founder and chief technology officer. And as for the product itself, Dines and Tirca had managed to develop a highly advanced and effective software (in this case the UiPath robot) that emulates the actions of a human being when interacting with digital systems.
Despite being based in Romania, UiPath grew quickly. In less than three years, the company generated $400 million in revenues and had raised $1.6 million from European investment firms Earlybird, Credo Ventures, and Seedcamp. The company had also begun targeting large companies and it wasn’t long before it was assisting the likes of Toyota, Walmart, Amazon, NASA, General Electric, and Verizon. Today, the UiPath tool is now being used by over 6,300 organizations.
Determined to build on UiPath’s early success, Dines returned to the U.S. in 2017 to relocate the company’s headquarters to New York City. The company continued to grow and was now valued at $35 billion after a $750 million Series F rounding led by Alkeon Capital and Coatue. It was also named as an RPA Leader in the 2020 Gartner Magic Quadrant for the second year running. A UiPath IPO has been set sometime in 2021.
Aside from having the innate ability to find opportunities from the direst of situations, confidence and determination are also two attributes that allowed Dines to find success and elevate UiPath to where it is today. He previously stated that he “doesn’t consider himself a great coder but just a very good one”, and also added at the end of the day “he’s still better than anyone in his company.” Dines graced the cover of the 2019 issue of Forbes magazine and is considered by many as the first bot billionaire.
Dines currently resides in New York together with his wife and child. He usually spends his mornings reading a book and doesn’t start work until around 10 or 11 AM.
Developing the UiPath platform was a long journey for Daniel Dines, but there is no denying that his struggles have all paid out with the success of his billion-dollar company. But with robotic process automation barely scratching the surface with technology constantly evolving, Dines has definitely set his sets on much bigger goals in the future.