Sigfox Still Shedding Top Execs, Including CTO Sources
Sigfox, the French Internet of Things (IoT) specialist, has lost Raoul Mallart, its chief technology officer, and Vincent Sabot, who ran network operations in France, Germany and Spain, according to reliable sources, as the trend of high-profile executive departures continues at the company.
Mallart left Sigfox at the start of this year, said two sources who have previously shared accurate information with Light Reading about executive developments at the company. He did not respond to an initial LinkedIn approach by Light Reading, but his LinkedIn profile appears to indicate that his employment with Sigfox ended in December last year.
Having joined Sigfox in December 2014, Mallart became the French company's chief technology officer in March 2017. He was formerly the vice president of innovation and intellectual property, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Mallart has been working as an expert for the European Commission's High-Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence since June last year, according to LinkedIn.
Vincent Sabot seems to have left Sigfox in late 2018. He joined the company in April 2016 as vice president of Europe organization and operation and had responsibility for "establishing and managing Sigfox channel sales," according to his LinkedIn profile.
At the time of publication, Sabot had not responded to a message enquiring about the circumstances of his departure.
His LinkedIn profile, however, shows that he left Sigfox in October 2018 to become CEO of Lacroix Group, a developer of products and services for smart cities.
Sigfox had not responded to a request for comment on the apparent departures of Mallart and Sabot at the time of publication.
The company witnessed an exodus of top managers in 2017 and 2018, with several quitting after they had clashed on company strategy with Ludovic Le Moan, Sigfox's co-founder and CEO.
Those individuals include Xavier Drilhon, the former deputy CEO, Allen Proithis, who was previously in charge of Sigfox's North American business, and Thierry Siminger, who led operations in the Middle East and Africa. (See Sigfox Sheds More Senior Staff, Including North America CEO and Sigfox MEA President Hits the Road, Jacques.)
More recently, Olivier Martineau left his role as chief financial officer in mid-2018 after Sigfox had missed revenue and fund-raising targets, repeatedly delayed an initial public offering and slashed the reported number of connections on Sigfox networks. (See Sigfox Loses CFO Martineau Sources and Sigfox to Go Public in 2018 Report.)
Founded in 2009, the company has developed a technology that provides connectivity for objects like smart meters and temperature monitors, which consume little bandwidth and require extremely power-efficient, low-cost technology.
While former executives have praised the company's technology, Sigfox has drawn flak for a business model that requires network partners outside France, Germany and Spain -- where Sigfox operates its own networks -- to share a big slice of their revenues with Sigfox. It has also been criticized for trying to expand too quickly into new geographical and industry markets. (See French Toast? Sigfox on Skid Row.)
Others have taken issue with the proprietary nature of Sigfox's technology, arguing this will ultimately lose out to international standards such as NB-IoT and LTE-M, which are now targeting some of the same opportunities.
Yet to report figures for the recent 2018 fiscal year, Sigfox claimed to have generated 50 million ($57 million, at today's exchange rate) in revenues in 2017, missing a revenue target of 60 million ($68 million) but easily beating sales of 32 million ($36 million) in 2016. It was reportedly targeting revenues of 75 million ($85 million) in 2018.
Still loss-making in 2017, the company had also been aiming for profitability in the fourth quarter of 2018. Having missed earlier fund-raising targets, it had looked in danger of running short of money until it secured a funding prop of 40 million ($46 million) from an existing investor in early 2018, according to a source close to the matter. (See Sigfox Poised to Get 40M Funding Prop Sources and Sigfox Defies Critics to Raise 150M in Funding.)
Analysts have been critical of the company since it acknowledged in early 2018 that only 2.5 million connections were "active" on Sigfox networks. Previously, Sigfox had claimed to support around 10 million connections.
"Considering the challenges lying ahead, along with the company's newly disclosed connection numbers, it's difficult to see how Sigfox will compete at the same level as similar low-power wide-area network standards, such as LoRa and NB-IoT," said Lee Ratcliff, a senior principal analyst for connectivity and IoT with IHS Markit, in a blog published in May last year.
Around this time last year, Sigfox said it was aiming for 6 million connections by the end of 2018: It does not appear to have provided an update on connections in recent times.
According to reports in the French press, Sigfox was last year in negotiations about a sale of its German and US networks, which have been a drain on cash. (See Sigfox in the City: 100+ Markets up in the US.)
Other senior executives who have either been fired or quit in the last two years include: Rodolphe Barronet-Fruges, the executive vice president of networks and operators; Remi Lorrain, the vice president of operations; Jerome Burriez, the chief information officer; Allison Junoy, the group general counsel; Thomas Nicholls, the head of communications; Philippe Imoucha, the cloud engineering director; Stuart Lodge, the executive vice president of global sales; and Thomas Schmidt, a spectrum manager. (See Sigfox Loses Networks Boss Fruges Sources, Sigfox CIO Said to Be Latest Senior Exec to Depart and Sigfox in Peril as Senior Execs Exit Sources.)
Barronet-Fruges, Lorrain, Burriez, Junoy and Nicholls all featured on a list of 13 "key people" at Sigfox in an internal presentation Light Reading obtained in 2017.
While it has lost many senior employees, Sigfox has also made several top hires during the same period, including Christian Olivier, who was named president of Sigfox USA in February 2018, and Raoti Chetih, appointed chief adoption officer in mid-2017.
The most significant hire is Franck Siegel, who came to Sigfox in October 2017 from South African IT company Dimension Data. Previously described as chief delivery officer, Siegel is today sporting the job title of chief operating officer. (See Sigfox Appoints Chief Delivery Officer.)
Last November, Sigfox recruited Jeremy Prince as chief strategy officer. Prince was the chief operating officer of Technicolor's Mikros Image business before joining the French IoT player.
Iain Morris, International Editor, Light Reading