Remember Alex, the data dude? When we last left him, back in the Introduction, he’d abandoned Josh and all those drop-everything management reports for the greener pastures of Seattle in a bid to reboot his career. He’d thrown in his bet with a hot tech start-up, and his wager had paid off well.

Alex’s new company had been carving out a niche in the nascent robotic process automation, or RPA, market. The company had been in business for nearly a decade—struggling mostly—when Alex arrived.

But now, suddenly, robotics was hot. Red hot. The company was valued north of a billion dollars, as were several of its peers. It recently secured second-round venture financing of $150 million. It was a ...

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