Sigfox raises $166M to expand global network

Article By : Julien Happich

The company is also eyeing Industry 4.0 as a key growth path, hence its plans to integrate its data networking services with Salesforce’s IoT Cloud.

Sigfox is closing its Series E funding round of $166.39 million (€150 million) to accelerate the expansion of its global network and soon reach worldwide coverage. In the last five years, the company has built a global wireless network that provides a simple, efficient connectivity solution for devices to connect efficiently to the cloud.

It claims the world's largest footprint in terms of IoT connectivity, with over 10 million objects registered on its network. With the new round of investment, Sigfox expects to extend its coverage from 26 countries today to 60 countries by 2018, while reaching financial breakeven point.

The company is also eyeing Industry 4.0 as a key growth path, where data analytics can help with industrial process optimisation and predictive maintenance, hence its plans to integrate its data networking services with Salesforce’s IoT Cloud.

The new investors listed behind Sigfox's new round of funding include Alto Invest, Salesforce Ventures, Henri Seydoux, Swen CP, Tamer Group and Total. Sigfox's previous partners including Bpifrance, Elliott, Intel Capital, Air Liquide, Idinvest Partners and IXO have also re-invested in the funding.

"The investment shows investors' continued interest in IoT. The round, one of the largest this year for an IoT start-up, illustrates the ongoing interest in IoT from financial and industrial investors," said Tom Rebbeck, research director at Analysys Mason.

The money Sigfox has raised, around $332.78 million (€300 million), highlights the capital-intensive nature of its model. 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, which, in turn, 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.

The addressable market for LPWA networks for IoT is considerable, but connectivity is only a small share. Analysys Mason is forecasting over 3 billion connected devices on LPWA networks globally by 2025. Total revenue generated by these networks will be around $70 billion in 2025, but only a small share of this, $5 billion, is on connectivity, the market in which Sigfox operates. (The remaining $65 billion will be on spend relating to hardware and applications.)

Sigfox is increasingly focused on companies that will use its technology, rather than connectivity providers. The emphasis for Sigfox in both its investors and other partners is increasingly on companies that will use the technology in their own core businesses and will generate revenue from enhancing products and services through connectivity rather than the connectivity itself; this may make sense given that connectivity is such a small share of the opportunity. For example, last November 9, Sigfox announced plans for a Japanese network with the electronics firm Kyocera.

Telecoms operators are notably absent from the press release. No telecoms operator is mentioned in the release and it is unclear whether operator investors from previous rounds—NTT Docomo, Telefonica and SK Telecom—are even investing in this round. It is notable that none of the operator investors has committed to a commercial Sigfox network; instead, they appear to favour competing technologies—NTT Docomo and SK Telecom are building NB-IoT networks (which is also being trialled by Telefonica). SK Telecom also has a nationwide LoRa network.

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