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AI Unicorn Uptake in No Hurry to List

Posted on Thursday, Oct 10th 2019

According to a Markets and Markets report, the global predictive analytics market is expected to grow a 22% CAGR to reach $12.4 billion by 2022. The growth in the industry is attributed to availability of enormous volumes of data and the adoption of connected and integrated technologies. Chicago-based Uptake Technologies is an AI unicorn in this space.

Uptake’s Financials

Uptake was set up in 2014 by Groupon Co-Founder Brad Keywell and his investment partner Eric Lefkofsky. The idea behind Uptake came to Brad when he had gone to pick up his daughter from the airport and the flight was delayed as the airline did not have the right part with it. Uptake’s platform helps customers gather data from various IT systems and sensors and leverage analytic tools to build computer models that can forecast upcoming needs.

Through its tie-ups with companies like Caterpillar, Uptake has managed to build a platform that utilizes data collected from heavy machinery needed to make these predictions. Its forecasts help organizations improve performance and drive safety.

Today, Uptake provides its solutions to agriculture, manufacturing, mining, aviation, oil & gas, railways, construction, government, and equipment dealers. Its customers include names like the US army, the American Red Cross, Caterpillar, and Rolls-Royce.

Uptake is privately held and does not disclose its financials. A 2017 report pegged its annual revenues at more than $100 million. It has been venture funded so far and has raised $218 million in four rounds so far. Its investors include Baillie Gifford, GreatPoint Ventures, Lightbank, New Enterprise Associates, and Revolution Growth. Its latest funding was announced in November 2017 when it raised $117 million in a round led by Baillie Gifford at a valuation of $2.3 billion. A prior round held in February of 2017 had valued it at $2 billion.

Uptake’s Product Expansion

Uptake continues to drive market expansion through product enhancement. Earlier this year, it released an upgrade for its Asset Performance Management (APM) application that now includes a new module capability to gather years of work order data from the organization’s existing computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) and enterprise asset management (EAM) systems. The application uses AI and natural language processing to complete missing data, suggest asset labels, and create an asset category. It is thus able to deliver a clean dataset for work order cost analysis that can be used to inform critical preventive and predictive maintenance strategies to de-risk operations and reduce annual maintenance costs significantly.

Additionally, Uptake is also looking at external partnerships to drive growth. Earlier this year, it entered into a tie-up with Element, a provider of a data hub designed to manage asset data for industrial organizations. As part of the agreement, the two companies will create and deliver an AI solution for industrial business that automates data integration, data science model configuration, and the production of insights to help detect and prevent failures and trigger work orders.

Uptake has received several rewards for its products and leadership. Recently, Brad was awarded the Entrepreneur of the Year Award by E&Y. Bloomberg also recognized Uptake as a 2019 New Energy Pioneer by Bloomberg New Energy Finance for its initiatives that are helping transition to a lower-carbon economy and bringing new ideas for business models, technologies, market structures, and commercial opportunities.

Uptake also has some serious competition in the market. GE, for instance, already has a predictive analytics division focused on doing what Uptake does. GE has the advantage of scale, experience, and big pockets. Then there are other Unicorn startups like C3 IoT that are also deploying enterprise scale Big Data analytics for predictive maintenance, fraud detection, sensor network health, supply chain optimization, investment planning, and customer engagement to its customers.

Uptake is in no rush to go public. In a recent interview, Brad mentioned how doing an IPO “can be fun, but it doesn’t always lead to the best result.”

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