EDBI-backed US tech unicorn WalkMe eyes 2020 IPO

WalkMe co-founder Eyal Cohen and CEO Dan Adika. Photo from WalkMe's Facebook page

US-based WalkMe, a tech unicorn startup backed by EDBI, the investment arm of Singapore’s Economic Development Board, is pushing for a possible listing in 2020 as it continues to pursue a Southeast Asia expansion, its co-founder and president Rephael Sweary.

In an interview with DEALSTREETASIA, Sweary confirmed that the company’s plan to list on the Nasdaq has not changed but he said that the listing could be pushed to 2020, instead of this year.

“Our listing plan has not changed. Either this year or 2020. Because we are very well-financed, we might push to 2020 so we can be more flexible in investing in our growth,” Sweary said.

WalkMe, a digital adoption platform, became one of the tech startup companies in the US to reach unicorn status last year, with total funding of about $270 million, including the $40-million Series F financing round backed by EDBI in November.

The company first raised $1 million in its Series A funding round in April 2012 led by Mangrove Capital Partners. It now has almost 670 employees.

Sweary declined to reveal the actual valuation of the company and other financial details, saying WalkMe is a private company, but said the firm is “well funded” and does not have plans to raise another funding round in the near term.

Established in 2011, WalkMe pioneered the Digital Adoption Platform, which assists users to complete tasks easily using artificial intelligence, engagement, guidance, and automation.

Its software, which Sweary claims is used by nearly 2,000 enterprises globally, including 30 per cent of Fortune 500 companies, eliminates the tedious process of having to fill up forms for every leave request, for example, or tasks that need personal information and other repeat details.

WalkMe claims that its context-intelligent algorithm also streamlines digital adoption internally and externally, ensuring that the right users receive the right information exactly at the moment of need.

“Employees are overwhelmed with too many applications that have become [a] distraction. We completely make the employee experience simple,” he said.

EDBI’s investment gives the company a foothold in Singapore, which will be used as a strategic hub to bring its digital adoption offerings to local enterprises and companies in the Asia Pacific region, Swear said. The target is to penetrate Malaysia and Thailand but with Singapore as the main operations location.

WalkMe decided to heavily invest in Southeast Asia, in addition to its existing investments in Australia and Japan, and Singapore was the top choice because of the city-state’s vibrant economy and business-friendly regulations.

The company also takes note of the nearly 37,400 international companies, potential clients, that have their headquarters in Singapore, including 7,000 multinational corporations (MNCs), with the majority of these organizations running their Asia Pacific operations out of Singapore.

With a presence in Singapore, Sweary said WalkMe targets to raise the percentage of its global sales to 50 per cent in a few years from 20 per cent. In 2018, North America accounted for 80 per cent of the company’s total sales. Southeast Asia, he added, is expected to account for 30 per cent of the company’s total sales.

“Our competition is the traditional method of doing things. Companies need digital adoption to survive and we are here to make digital transformation work,” Sweary added.

The next target would be China but Sweary said its strategy would be similar to Japan, where WalkMe has established a joint venture with a local company that knows the market very well.

“We have made initial discussions although nothing final yet but given China’s potential and our success in the Asia Pacific region, we could be entering China by the end of 2020,” he said.

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.