Sigfox US Boss Is Out as Offices Close in Boston, San Francisco

Iain Morris
News Analysis
Iain Morris, International Editor
1/21/2019



Sigfox has waved goodbye to Christian Olivier, the man appointed president of its US business last February, after he had spent less than a year in the role, according to reliable sources. (See Sigfox Loses Networks Boss Fruges Sources.)

The French Internet of Things (IoT) company has also closed offices in Boston and San Francisco since the fall and moved remaining employees into a WeWork building in Boston and a similar shared workspace facility in San Jose, Light Reading has learned.

Sigfox is now left with only one dedicated US facility in Dallas and is understood to have put Carlos Beato, its South American vice president, in temporary charge of the US business.

The exact circumstances surrounding Olivier's departure and the office closures remain unclear. Olivier did not respond to an initial approach and Light Reading had not heard back from Sigfox's press office at the time of publication.

Sigfox has previously missed network rollout targets in the US and was last year in talks about a sale of some networks, according to reports in the French press.

Olivier took up the US leadership role as a replacement for Allen Proithis, the former president of activities across North America, who appears to have quit in 2017 after clashing with Ludovic Le Moan, Sigfox's co-founder and CEO, on company strategy. (See Sigfox Sheds More Senior Staff, Including North America CEO.)

Based in France, Sigfox has developed a low-cost, power-efficient technology for connecting smart meters, tracking devices and industrial equipment to data networks. (See French Toast? Sigfox on Skid Row.)

The US network is one of several that Sigfox owns and operates internationally, with the others in France, Germany and Spain. Elsewhere, the company relies on network partners, which agree to share a chunk of their service revenues with Sigfox under licensing conditions.

The costs of operating its own national networks are likely to represent a significant expense for the small company, which has yet to report a profit and which missed sales targets in 2017.

One source who spoke with Light Reading on condition of anonymity estimates that running the US business alone would cost about 4 million ($4.6 million) annually. Sigfox reported revenues of 50 million ($57 million) in 2017, beating its 2016 figure of 32 million ($36 million) but missing a forecast of 60 million ($68 million). It was reportedly aiming for 75 million ($85 million) in revenues last year.

Olivier parted company with Sigfox in early December, according to sources, and is not the only senior US executive to have left in recent weeks: After a three-year stint, US Sales Director Sean Horan quit Sigfox this month to join another IoT company, OptConnect, Light Reading can also reveal.

Horan confirmed his departure in a LinkedIn message to Light Reading, indicating that he left Sigfox "on good terms" and had enjoyed his time at the company.

The staff moves follow an exodus of senior managers during the past two years, including the recent loss of Raoul Mallart, Sigfox's chief technology officer, and Vincent Sabot, who ran operations in France, Germany and Spain. Olivier Martineau, Sigfox's chief financial officer, left the company in July. (See Sigfox Still Shedding Top Execs, Including CTO Sources and Sigfox Loses CFO Martineau Sources.)

Like Proithis, several of the managers who previously quit appear to have had disagreements with Le Moan about Sigfox's strategy, including Xavier Drilhon, the former deputy CEO, and Thierry Siminger, who led operations in the Middle East and Africa.


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Sigfox's critics say its proprietary technology will ultimately lose out to "open" standards such as NB-IoT and LTE-M and that Sigfox demands too great a share of service revenues from network partners. Others say it has overstretched in its desperation to expand rapidly into new geographical and industry markets.

Despite the executive turmoil, the company's overall headcount has continued to rise, according to LinkedIn data, numbering a total of 448 employees around the world at the latest reckoning.

Iain Morris, International Editor, Light Reading

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