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 is now the CEO of UiPath, a company that specializes in robotic process automation (RPA) and was recently valued at $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. Dines, the son of a teacher and a civil engineer, was relocated to a factory town by dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.
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.
Even though he missed most of his other classes, he still graduated and later went back to the same university to get his master’s degree.
During the first few years after the fall of Communism in Romania, when Dines was in college, he made money by trading the country’s rising currency.He bought goods once they were less expensive in Bucharest and sent them home with extra markup. He then set up a job listing business during the mid-1990s.
Dines had some success with his small business, but he was not happy with how his career turned out in the end.But after hearing about the coder in the capital of Romania who gets $300 a month to do work for U.S. tech companies that are sent there, he would find a chance to start a whole new career.
With a C++ book borrowed from the library and a computer borrowed from a friend, Dines started out to teach himself programming. His new profession would give him a ticket to a better life outside of Romania, as he was given an offer by Microsoft to work within the United States.
In 2001, Dines moved to the U.S. and started out working at 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 difficult part of his work, which he even defined as “terrible.”
In a recent interview, he recalled that he “only understood around 50% to 60% of what people were saying during meetings, which made it worse since he couldn’t speak English himself.” He additionally found that some words like “folder” didn’t simply pertain to Windows icons.
UiPath’s 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 at the suggestion of a previous DeskOver customer. That same customer would point out that SDKs in general do more than just help engineers build apps faster; they also train software to mimic basic tasks without the need for an engineer.
The tide immediately shifted in favor of Dines and his business partner, Marius Tirca. DeskOver changed its name to UiPath and committed its entire resources to the virtual robot industry, also known as RPA. BluePrism, a company that started creating related software, coined the term.
Tirca was also promoted to co-founder and chief technology officer. And as for the product itself, Dines and Tirca had managed to develop 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 raised $1.6 million from European investment firms such as 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 being used by over 6,300 organizations.
Dines came back to the U.S. in 2017 to move the company’s headquarters to New York City. He was determined to build on UiPath’s early success. After a $750 million Series F round led by Alkeon Capital and Coatue, the company is now valued at $35 billion. It was also named an RPA leader in the 2020 Gartner Magic Quadrant for the second year in a row. A UiPath IPO has been set for sometime in 2021.
Aside from having the innate ability to find opportunities in 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 that “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 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 off with the success of his billion-dollar company. But since robotic process automation is just getting started and technology is always changing, Dines has set his sights on much bigger goals for the future.