Although the Great White North has lived up to its billing during Stephen DeWitt’s visit to Ottawa this week, the new chief executive of MindBridge Analytics seems to be enjoying every minute of it. “I’m having a blast,” says the 59-year-old tech industry lifer, who was raised in Chicago but has spent most of his […]Although the Great White North has lived up to its billing during Stephen DeWitt’s visit to Ottawa this week, the new chief executive of MindBridge Analytics seems to be enjoying every minute of it. “I’m having a blast,” says the 59-year-old tech industry lifer, who was raised in Chicago but has spent most of his career working for companies based in Silicon Valley’s much milder climate. Joking that it’s “only about five months to summer,” DeWitt already appears to have plenty of warm feelings about his new employer. MindBridge, which uses artificial intelligence to help auditors detect irregularities and errors in accounting documents, is perhaps the brightest star in Ottawa’s growing AI firmament. Founded in 2015 by serial entrepreneur Solon Angel, the firm immediately staked its claim as a company to watch in the AI-for-accountants space, raising more than $40 million in venture capital and establishing a foothold across the Atlantic with its 2020 acquisition of U.K.-based fintech startup Brevis. Last year, MindBridge signed a deal with KPMG to integrate its software into the global professional services giant’s accounting platform, ensuring the Ottawa firm’s AI would become entrenched in more than 140 countries. The company also secured an additional US$60 million in funding in a round led by PSG Equity LLC. Since then, MindBridge has aggressively courted customers in verticals beyond its sweet spot in the financial services sector. Its growing roster of enterprise clients now includes Chevron and other Fortune 1000-level organizations. Despite self-deprecatingly referring to himself as an “old guy,” DeWitt sounds like he’s full of youthful energy when discussing his latest career stop. “You have to be involved in something that matters – something that’s impacting humanity,” says the veteran of nearly four decades in the tech industry, who replaced MindBridge’s interim CEO, Bill Hewitt, earlier this month. “This moment is a moment I couldn’t sit on the sidelines for. In looking across the AI universe and getting away from the hype cycle, who’s really making the magic happen? That’s where MindBridge came across my radar.” The job appears to be a perfect fit for DeWitt, an “automation zealot” who has worked with some of Silicon Valley’s largest companies as well as several highly successful startups in a career that stretches back to the 1980s. In addition to stints as a senior executive at Cisco Systems and Hewlett-Packard, he also served as CEO of Cobalt Networks, guiding the firm through its initial public offering before the California-based company was acquired by Sun Microsystems. DeWitt later led San Francisco’s Azul Systems, New York software-as-a-service company WorkMarket, and most recently California-based cloud computing company CloudBees, where he was chief executive from February 2021 to May 2022. And though he’s new to the National Capital Region, DeWitt considers himself something of an honorary Canuck. DeWitt lived in B.C. and later Toronto in the early 1990s, when he was in charge of software firm Symantec’s Canadian operations. He is proud of his connection to this country, explaining to a reporter that some of his children were born here and that he owned a house in Whistler, B.C., for two decades. As a long-suffering fan of the NFL’s Bears and Major League Baseball’s Cubs – Chicago sports teams that have endured their own well-documented championship droughts – DeWitt says he felt his fellow Torontonians’ pain as he sat in Maple Leaf Gardens watching the Leafs fall a game short of a trip to the Stanley Cup final in 1993. Now, he’s back in the land of the maple leaf, with plans to return to the nation’s capital at least once a month from his home base in California. DeWitt believes MindBridge has all the ingredients necessary to become a global AI powerhouse. He notes that the 130-person company is already profitable thanks to its disciplined approach to growth, adding that one of his priorities will be expanding the firm’s network of channel partners that can help it penetrate new markets. “We’re not going to be in every geography, but our partners (will be) in every geography,” he says. Meanwhile, engineers at the firm’s Ottawa R&D hub are focused on expanding the platform’s capabilities. DeWitt sees a day in the not-too-distant future when MindBridge software will be an integral part of a customer’s entire financial workflow, analyzing everything from payroll deductions to credit card transactions.
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