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Enterprise software startup UiPath is Europe's latest decacorn, hitting a valuation of $10 billion after a Series E fundraise in July.
UiPath offers something called robotic process automation, which essentially aims to automate repetitive computer tasks.
We spoke to two European backers of UiPath, who took a gamble that the startup's focus on an emerging area of enterprise software would pay off.
"When I first met Daniel I was struck by his conviction," Reshma Sohoni, partner at Seedcamp, said. "He was talking about RPA which was a product that was hard to imagine at the time but his belief and self confidence were already there."
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UiPath — Romania's first unicorn startup, Europe's latest decacorn, and one of the fastest growing software companies in the world — started in a flat in Bucharest in 2005.
The company last month in July became Europe's latest decacorn (a company with a valuation of $10 billion) company, after a $225 million Series E round.
Founded out of Romania and now based in New York, the startup raised its first institutional funding in 2016, and has gone on to pioneer software automation in just four years.
Business Insider spoke to two key European investors in the buzzy software startup, Seedcamp partner Reshma Sohoni who invested in 2016, and Accel partner Philippe Botteri who led the company's $30 million Series A in 2017, to understand how to spot a potential decacorn.
Pivoting into the emerging process automation market
In 2005, CEO Daniel Dines and CTO Marius Tirca founded DeskOver, an automation library startup that would eventually pivot to become UiPath.
In 2012, the pair began to look into robotic process automation, a productivity tool that allows a user to configure one or more scripts (which some vendors refer to as "bots") to activate specific keystrokes in an automated fashion. The goal is to automate repetitive computer tasks, freeing up time for human workers.
Automation is big business now, but the technology was in its early stages at that time. UiPath spent years developing its tech before winning a competition to find the best robotic process automation tech by Indian consulting firm BPO in 2015.
The company took the bold move of founding a US office and soon caught the attention of VC investors including Earlybird, Credo Ventures and Seedcamp, which funded a $1.6 million seed round in the company.
"When I first met Daniel I was struck by his conviction," Reshma Sohoni, partner at Seedcamp, told Business Insider in an interview. "He was talking about RPA which was a product that was hard to imagine at the time but his belief and self confidence were already there."
In 2019, robotic process automation market grew 62.9% to $1.4 billion and held its position as the fastest-growing segment in the enterprise software market for a second year, according to research firm Gartner.
The company soon opened offices in other locations within Europe and Asia, taking board members by surprise with ambitious growth plans.
Even at that stage, there was some uncertainty about the sector more generally.
"The company was moving from a services and consulting model to a software model with 80/90% gross margins," Sohoni added. "Our research showed that the curve was ticking upwards but automation in some cases still meant data farms in India with people copy and pasting from one screen to another."
Investors gambled on the founders as much as the technology
In early February 2017, a team from global VC fund Accel visited Romania for two days to meet with Daniel Dines and the UiPath team.
Accel would go on to lead a $30 million Series A round in the company which was, according to investor Philippe Botteri, "a unique process."
"We have invested in major companies like Spotify and the thing that always strikes you is the founder, we had that with Daniel," Botteri told Business Insider. "Daniel is a one-of-a-kind founder, he had a global vision for the company from the get-go, he's very product-orientated, and driven."
Accel also felt UiPath had strong potential after conducting its due diligence process.
UiPath had recently signed a large contract with a Fortune 500 company with a three- or four-month sales cycle — literally how long it takes to land a deal from start to finish. Accel normally found European startups took 12-18 months to land such deals.
The fact the company already had operations in the US helped while UiPath's tech also caught Accel's eye. The other partner from Accel was Romania-born Luciana Lixandru, now a partner at Sequoia Capital.
UiPath has now raised $1.2 billion in venture funding in four short years, according to Crunchbase, and in that time has gone on to become a market leader in the automation space, according to research firm Gartner with around $400 million annual recurring revenue. Another high-valued European leader in the space is the UK's Blue Prism, which has a market cap of £1.15 billion ($1.5 billion).
Spotting a unicorn
UiPath is a probable "home run" for its venture capital backers — the bet that will likely yield outsize returns and negate other failed startups in the portfolio.
How do you spot one?
"When it comes to spotting potential unicorns, be it TransferWise, Revolut, or a decacorn like UiPath the question we ask is 'What are the things that have to go right in order for this to impactful and/or disruptive?'" Sohoni said. "Daniel had the right validation points and confidence as a founder but also wanted to continue to invest in R&D and product."
Botteri simply quotes his fund's thesis, based on French scientist Louis Pasteur's quote: "In the fields of observation chance favors only the prepared mind."
He added: "We knew automation was an interesting market and UiPath was at the intersection of secular trends, including data, AI productivity, and automation."
It hasn't been a totally smooth journey to decacorn status.
The company laid off about 400 people in October 2019, only a few months after raising $568 million at a $7 billion valuation and lost its CFO in the process, a series of events that puzzled industry watchers.
However, the company is bowling forward with reported plans for an IPO in 2021. Employees are positive about the company's culture, with Dines being ranked by female employees as among the best of current tech CEOs.
Forrester analyst Craig Le Clair estimates that in three to four years, the RPA software market could be worth $4 billion, while RPA services would be worth $12 billion.
"Daniel famously said 'I want one robot for every person,'" Botteri added. "If you are always driving to do more, you can do things people thought were impossible."SEE ALSO: How 2 immigrant founders are trying to help marginalized communities build credit scores. 'America needs to look in the mirror and see what it has done.'
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The BBC has rejected complaints made about a same-sex kiss in children’s drama The Next Step.The broadcaster stood by the inclusion of a romantic moment between teenage characters Jude and Cleo in the Canadian series – which airs on CBBC – stating that it is “proud to reflect all areas of children’s lives across our factual and fictional output”. The scene was widely praised online for providing LGBTQ+ representation to a younger audience when it aired last month, but Metro reported the BBC had also received “more than 100” complaints about the kiss. Responding to the complaints, the BBC also pointed out misconceptions that it was the first time a same-sex kiss had aired in one of its children’s series, noting this actually happened in drama Byker Grove in 1994, with many same-sex relationships also featuring in other series. In a statement, the BBC said: “The decision to include this moment, as part of a longer storyline throughout series seven which has been tracking the development of a romantic relationship between two of the characters, Jude and Cleo, was taken very carefully and with much consideration, and came about after CBBC and Boatrocker (the production company who make the show) acknowledged that the series could and should do more to reflect the lives of LGBTQ+ young people.“This is an important part of our mission to make sure that every child feels like they belong, that they are safe, and that they can be who they want to be.” It continued: “We believe that the storyline, and the kiss, was handled with sensitivity and without sensationalism, following as it did the portrayal of Jude and Cleo’s developing relationship and I’m afraid we do not agree that it was inappropriate for the audience age – CBBC regularly portrays heterosexual young people dating, falling in love, and kissing, and it is an important way of showing children what respectful, kind and loving relationships look like. “At Children’s BBC, we are proud to reflect all areas of children’s lives across our factual and fictional output.“Same-sex relationships have already featured in other CBBC shows such as Jamie Johnson, 4 O’Clock Club, Dixie and Marrying Mum and Dad, and (contrary to what was reported in the press about The Next Step) the first same-sex kiss on CBBC was in fact in Byker Grove, many years ago.”The statement finished: “This moment in The Next Step is merely one story among a myriad of voices and experiences across our output.”The Next Step follows the members of a dance troupe from a dance studio, as they train for and compete in various championships. Beginning in 2013, it is now in its seventh series and the show has spawned a number of international tours featuring the cast. READ MORE:
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In a recent interview with Business Insider, Betterment president of retail Mike Reust offered a window into how the robo-adviser thinks about the recent self-directed trading mania.
Betterment is not trying to launch a "Robinhood clone," Reust told us. But it is trying to tap into the retail trading surge with more tailored options than it currently offers.
"I don't quite know where that will take us, but we are certainly thinking through how much more portfolio customization to offer, so I suspect you will see us offer more than we offer today, over time. It's an area where we will invest," he said.
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Through the coronavirus pandemic and the market volatility that's ensued, analysts, investors, executives, and journalists have scrambled to get a handle on soaring levels of engagement with do-it-yourself trading. The team behind Betterment, the pioneering standalone digital wealth manager, is no exception.
"For us, it's not, 'Oh, jeez, Robinhood's driving serious [payment for order flow] revenue. What are we going to do about that to drive some PFOF revenue?' It's not like that," Mike Reust, the president of retail at New York-based Betterment, said in a recent interview over Zoom with Business Insider.
"It's really more like, why are customers running to Robinhood in the millions? What are they doing? Why do they believe that's the right path?" he said.
That the digital wealth manager that made a name for itself on the back of slow, steady passive investments is considering what's driving the recent boom in quick, often volatile retail trading underlines the rise and influence of average investors jumping into the market with both feet.
Betterment is examining the "psychology and the human side of it," as far as whether the company should give clients more control over their portfolios, or allow "you to do certain customizations that aren't possible today that help you sort of scratch that need for control," he said.
"I don't quite know where that will take us, but we are certainly thinking through how much more portfolio customization to offer, so I suspect you will see us offer more than we offer today. Over time, it's an area where we will invest," said Reust, who has been with Betterment for seven years and was previously its chief technology officer.
The market's severe volatility this spring and summer mixed with people staying home during pandemic-related lockdowns with access to an array of commission-free trading platforms have helped contribute to record levels of do-it-yourself trading.
Explosive growth in retail trading
This month, legacy online brokerages E-Trade, TD Ameritrade, Charles Schwab, and Interactive Brokers all reported record levels of daily trades during the second quarter.
E-Trade Chief Executive Mike Pizzi called the quarter "extraordinary," with levels of customer engagement "that are without precedent in our nearly 40-year history" in a statement alongside earnings.
Reust told Business Insider that Betterment is not going to launch a product that looks like a "Robinhood clone," and the company declined to comment specifically on how it will allow customers to add more customization to their portfolios.
Read more: Wall Street is being shaken to its core by a legion of Gen Z day traders. From a casual hobbyist to a 20-year-old running a 14,000-person platform, meet the new generation of retail investors.
The company has always sat at the intersection of digital investing meeting human advice, Reust said, with some Certified Financial Planners (CFP) and other licensed investment professionals on staff for customers to complement its app.
"Where I think COVID has taken us a little bit, is all of a sudden, across age groups, everyone cared a lot more about human-powered advice — real fast," he said. "We went from, it was a nice offering that a lot of customers took advantage of, to the team was oversubscribed with phone calls and appointments."
Betterment is looking to grow its team of experts to assist users, with plans to hire one more CFP.
In recent months, it's hired customer-service representatives, engineers, and analytics roles. Overall, it has more than a dozen employees handling phone calls and emails from customers using its investing products, and nine people on banking products. A spokesperson said Betterment is growing both teams.
On July 14, the day before this year's shifted tax day in the US, it experienced the highest volume of inbound customer requests it's ever seen as investors looked for help with navigating their filing situations.
Betterment also now has a team of four people directly supporting its premium customers, and several other CFPs serving other functions, a spokesperson said. Premium customers have at least $100,000 in assets with Betterment, and pay a 0.40% fee of those assets, as opposed to 0.25% for the digital tier that has no account minimum.
Though it has an eye to greater customization, Betterment, which oversees $21 billion in client assets and has some 500,000 customers, still isn't trying to stray from its core digital wealth management and banking products.
It's looking to launch joint checking accounts later this year, and on Thursday launched a feature that allows customers to create separate buckets of cash for short- and long-term financial goal-setting.
Other fintech players have also applied for bank charters, something Reust said was a step Betterment may consider in the future, but said was not a priority.
Betterment has raised $275 million in outside funding, and last raised a $70 million round of capital in 2017 — an extension of a $100 million Series E round the year prior led by the Swedish investment company Kinnevik.
Outside of its New York City headquarters, the robo-adviser has two other offices in Denver, which opened in January, and Philadelphia, which opened in January 2019. SEE ALSO: Wall Street is being shaken to its core by a legion of Gen Z day traders. From a casual hobbyist to a 20-year-old running a 14,000-person platform, meet the new generation of retail investors.
SEE ALSO: Billionaire Paul Tudor Jones says the pandemic has thrown off economic models so much that people would 'be better off getting financial advice from TikTok'
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I reviewed the IQ robot, and here's my take on the device. With minimal interaction required on your part, it'll keep you focused on other, more pressing matters.
Cadillac will unveil its new Lyriq all-electric crossover SUV on August 6, but it can’t apparently resist the urge to tease with new images released of the upcoming EV. The first of Cadillac’s new line-up of electrified vehicles, and indeed the first of General Motors’ models to use its new Ultium platform, the Lyriq promises to kick off what the … Continue reading
You can capture a screenshot on your Lenovo computer in several different ways.
If you have Windows 10, you can simply take a screenshot to be saved directly to your files, or you can take one and edit it before saving it.
If you aren't running Windows 10, though, there are still ways to do both of those things, just with a few more steps.
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The ability to screenshot your computer screen can be useful for a number of reasons. You can show somebody exactly what you're doing step-by-step, save a webpage for future reference, or screenshot frames of your favorite shows or movies.
Taking a screenshot works differently depending on the kind of computer you have, and the software that it's running. On Lenovo, there are a few different ways to do it: some that only work with Windows 10, and some that work with any version of Windows.
Check out the products mentioned in this article:
Windows 10 (From $139.99 at Best Buy)
Lenovo Ideapad 130 (From $469.99 at Walmart)
How to screenshot on Lenovo if you have Windows 10
Hold down the Windows key, then press the PrtSc key. The screen will dim for a moment, and the image on your monitor will save to the Screenshots folder in your Files.
Another way to screenshot is to hold down the Windows key, then press the W key. A sidebar menu will appear on the right side of your monitor. Select ScreenSketch from the menu.
Make any edits you might want to the image, then hit save.
This method is particularly useful if you want to highlight or mark up certain parts of the image for later.
How to screenshot on Lenovo if you don't have Windows 10
If you don't have Windows 10, use this method instead. It requires more steps, but it combines the functionality of the other two.
1. Press the PrtSc (Print Screen) key on your keyboard to copy an image of your screen to the clipboard.
2. Open Paint, or a similar application, and use the Paste function to open the image in the program.
3. Use the tools in Paint to mark up the image if you desire, then click "File" and "Save" to save it to your files.
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Back toward the end of May, Samsung revealed a new Galaxy Book S built around one of Intel’s hybrid Lakefield CPUs. Specifically, the Galaxy Book S features an Intel Core i5-L16g7 at its core, ditching the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx we see in the other Galaxy Book S. Fast forward to today, and Samsung has announced that the Intel-based Galaxy Book … Continue reading
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It wasn’t long ago that pretty much every US firm was attempting to crack the lucrative Chinese market, but now India is drawing the attention.
Google might be the next major company to invest in India‘s Reliance Jio Platform. According to Bloomberg, the search giant is in advanced talks to invest $4 billion in the Indian company. This comes just a day after Google CEO, Sundar Pichai, said that the firm will invest $10 billion in the Indian market over the next five to seven years. If the Jio investment goes ahead, it will cover 40% of the said investment capital. [Read: Google promises to invest $10B in India over the next ‘5 to 7 years’] Jio Platforms have already raised more than $15.8 billion this… This story continues at The Next WebOr just read more coverage about: Google
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Employees at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are calling for the federal agency to address what they say are “ongoing and recurring acts of racism and discrimination” against its Black employees, NPR reported. More than 1,000 CDC employees signed a letter to director Robert Redfield describing a “pervasive and toxic culture of racial aggressions.”
“In light of the recent calls for justice across this country and around the world, we, as dedicated public health professionals, can no longer stay silent to the widespread acts of racism and discrimination within CDC that are, in fact, undermining the agency’s core mission,” the letter reads, according to NPR, which obtained a copy. The letter notes that Black employees are...
Google's Chrome cracked 70% last month in the browser share sweepstakes, setting another record as it reached a number held by only two other browsers in the history of the web.According to data published last week by analytics company Net Applications, Chrome's share during June rose four-tenths of a percentage point to 70.2%. The browser has been on a sixth-month run, adding 3.6 percentage points to its account since January. The only other browser to end the first half of 2020 on a positive note was Opera Software's Opera, which gained just one-tenth of a point in that time.To read this article in full, please click here
Microsoft unveiled quite a number of notable Surface devices last month but there is always an odd one out.The Surface Pro 7 seems to have gotten the short end of the stick this year, being seen as an almost forgettable upgrade.But more than just the meager step up in specs and features, the device is criticized for sporting an already very outdated design.It turns out, that’s true inside as well.We can imagine that the Surface Neo and Surface Duo will be repairability nightmares given their novel designs but we won’t know that until late 2020.This year, Microsoft at least gave fans a significantly more repairable Surface Laptop 3 and, despite its flaws, a decent Surface Pro X as well.