French start-up gains £130m funding from Salesforce and others to expand its IoT global network
French Internet of Things (IoT) start-up Sigfox has secured €150 million (£129.4m) in funding and will use it to accelerate the expansion of its global network.
The funding comes from an eclectic set of investors including Alto Invest, Salesforce Ventures, Henri Seydoux, Swen CP, Tamer Group and Total. Existing investors Bpifrance, Elliott, Intel Capital, Air Liquide, Idinvest Partners and IXO, will also re-invest in the company.
Sigfox’s proprietary wireless network is one of a number of competing IoT standards, with cellular, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth also seen as potential technologies. The company’s UNB network for example powers Arqiva’s M2M network in the UK.
And earlier this year Sigfox deployed the first ever Internet of Things (IoT) network on Antarctica, to help the safety of a Belgian expedition undertaking projects related to climate change and sustainability.
Meanwhile Sigfox has also recently announced plans for a Japanese network with the electronics firm Kyocera.
Sigfox has thus been steadily building its global wireless network that provides a connectivity solution for the IoT industry. It already has coverage in 26 countries, but Sigfox says this new round of funding will enable it to expand its international network to 60 countries by 2018 and reach financial breakeven point.
The IoT market also makes uses of big data, which explains the reason for Salesforce joining the investors. Sigfox plans to integrate with Salesforce’s IoT Cloud in order to unlock insights from the connected world.
“I joined Sigfox 18 months ago because of the incredibly powerful vision of its founders and the unique positioning of the company as a fundamental enabler of the IoT revolution,” said Xavier Drilhon, deputy CEO of Sigfox. “Our rapid international expansion made possible thanks to the support of our local operators, as well as the growth of our ecosystem, were key to securing this new fundraising.”
“Today, we have created the equivalent of the world’s largest radio telescope for IoT,” said Ludovic Le Moan and Christophe Fourtet, co-founders of Sigfox. “Our network is able to connect hundreds of billions of objects to the Internet through advanced radio techniques.”
Meanwhile at least industry analyst believes this funding highlights the growing confidence and continued interest from the industrial sector in IoT.
“The round, one of the largest this year for an IoT startup, illustrates the ongoing interest in IoT from financial and industrial investors,” said Tom Rebbeck, Research Director at Analysys Mason.
“The money Sigfox has raised … highlights the capital-intensive nature of its model,” said Rebbeck. “While competing technologies, like LoRaWAN and NB-IoT, have a more standard licensing model, Sigfox develops and provides the technology and absorbs some of the risk of each network roll out – this requires upfront funding from Sigfox. This model gives Sigfox a greater share of the benefits but also more of the risk. Likewise, its network partners are bound to a single supplier and a single point of failure.”
Rebbeck also pointed out that telecoms operators are notably absent from the investment round, despite telecom operators such as NTT Docomo, Telefonica and SK Telecom having previously invested in the firm.
Rebbeck feels that telecom firms appear to be favouring competing technologies, and says that NTT Docomo and SK Telecom are building NB-IoT networks, whilst SK Telecom has a nationwide LoRa network.
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