A software programmer who left Romania for a job at Microsoft in the U.S. had a “crazy idea” that saw him return home and become one of the world’s richest individuals, Bloomberg reports.
Daniel Dines is the CEO of UiPath Inc, an automation software maker that raised $1.3 billion in a U.S. initial public offering on Wednesday. The 49-year-old owns a $6 billion stake in the company, making him one of the top 500 billionaires in the world.
The path to that success, however, wasn’t easy. Dines studied math and computer science at the University of Bucharest at a time when Romania was still under dictator Nicolae Ceausescu’s rule. At last year’s annual Montgomery Summit technology conference, he revealed that he immigrated to the U.S. in his 20s to work for Microsoft in 2001.
“For someone coming in his 20s to the U.S. from Europe, it was a big challenge for me to adapt to the States, even though professionally speaking my experience at Microsoft was great,” he said.
That time subsequently inspired him to go back to Romania and start a company that now automates low-skilled tasks normally outsources to workers in low-wage countries.
“I had a crazy idea to go back and start a company,” he recalled at the conference.
In starting UiPath, the biggest challenge also became Dines’ best weapon, he said in a letter that came with the company’s registry filings for its listing.
“Starting a company from a small place with no market has a hidden advantage: It forces you to think globally from day one,” he said.
Since then, UiPath has grown from a small business to a company set to dominate robotic process automation. According to Forbes, UiPath generated $155 million in revenue in 2019. This year, it raised $750 million in funding, led by Alkeon Capital and Coatue. Dines currently owns all of UiPath’s Class B shares and will continue to control the company even after selling shares in the offering worth approximately $75 million.
“You have to become a public company at some point to allow your employees to get more liquidity, give them stock options,” Daniel Dines told Bloomberg in an interview last year. “We’re almost there.”