In January 2022, Siegfax, the former flagship of French Tech, will be officially acquired by Unibiz, a Singapore-based IoT service provider, founded by a former employee of Sigfox. The rather limited growth towards the end of the IoT market, presented as Eldorado in the mid-2010s, underscores the volatility of start-up industrial destinations, and even the most promising of this vertiginous decline.
Go back. In 2016, Sigfox, a young French startup specializing in IoT for low-speed networks, raised 150 million euros in funding, the largest in French technology at the time. With the future looking bright, the potential for the growth of IoT and Sigfox’s particularly powerful and efficient proprietary technology seems endless.
Sigfox’s dream came true
Six years later, the dream is shattered into a much less rosy reality. Sigfox first came up against an IoT market that did not experience the announced explosion. In 2015, Gartner estimated that the number of connected objects in the world would reach 25 billion by 2020 This number did not exceed 6 billion on this date
But Sigfox has failed even more. The company had a target of one billion objects in 2023, but now it connects only 20 million in 75 countries. The start-up is paying for its choices to develop a proprietary value, high quality of course, but interfering with other affiliates.
The questionable choice of a proprietary IoT technology
So much so that other technologies have established themselves more widely in the world of IoT connectivity, most notably LoRa, a low-speed and low-power technology, like Sigfox, but open source and lets you operate without an operator or NB. -IoT, a standard using wireless networks of current telecom operators. And the market share of 5G also has the potential to gain.
The Covid-19 epidemic and the global shortage of semiconductors have darkened the picture. In September 2020, Sigfox implemented a redundant plan for 10% of its staff. In February 2021, its president and co-founder, Ludovic Le Moan, gave way to Jeremy Prince.
An impossible change of strategy
The young shoot then attempts a final blow: abandon telecom infrastructure, and return exclusively to companies providing IoT services. To be successful, the plan requires Siegfax to sell the last two direct-operated networks, in France and the United States (after selling its German network already in 2020).
The economic situation hindered this sale, throwing Siegfax into the abyss. Under pressure of 155 million euros in debt, unable to pay its current costs, Sigfox went into receivership in January 2022.
Unabij of Singapore is in charge of Sigfox’s operations
On April 21, 2022, the Commercial Court of Toulouse appointed Sigfox SA and Sigfox France buyers: it is the Singapore operator of the IoT network UnaBiz. The latter was founded by a former Sigfox employee and operates the Sigfox network in Singapore.
Among the dozens of buyers who submitted a file, for obvious reasons of corporate culture, but also for financing and strategizing, it was the preferred solution for employees. As Unabij is a foreign investor, the operation has to be approved by the Ministry of Economy.
One billion to 3.6 million euros: Heavy discounts on Sigfox assets
Of the 174 jobs at parent company Sigfox SA, Unibiz will retain 110. The 70 employees of the French subsidiary will also have to keep their jobs.
“UnaBiz will definitely guarantee Sigfox’s French technological sovereignty. Over the next 12 months, SigFox will secure sales as well as emerge new markets in the post-epidemic environment, with new SigFox innovating itself and collaborating with other LPWAN technologies such as Lora, LTE-M and NB-IoT to seize new development opportunities.Henry Bong, co-founder and co-CEO of Unabij, mentioned.
UnaBiz bought all of Sigfox’s assets for 3.6 million euros. The founder of the young shoot, Ludovic Le Moan, has confirmed that he refused, in 2018, when Where the young shoot IPO seems realisticOne billion euros offer for his nugget.