The last few years have proved tough for Internet of Things (IoT) specialist Sigfox as it became mired in turmoil, intrigue and uncertainty about its very survival.
After becoming virtually a household name following its establishment in 2010, recent years have been marked by an exodus of top executives and job cuts. According to a report in Les Echos in September 2020, the company said it would cut 47 of 400 jobs.
At the time, CEO Ludovic Le Moan told the French broadsheet that 2020 was proving to be a "complicated year," not least owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. The company has previously targeted 1 billion connected devices by 2023, but is still a long way from achieving that goal with only 17 million devices connected thus far.
In February 2019, which seems to be the last time Sigfox published results, it reported revenue of €60 million (US$73 million) for 2018. It now says its network is deployed in 72 countries.
Essentially, the surge in connected objects requiring IoT connectivity has not taken place as quickly as hoped. Indeed, Sigfox has become a high-profile example of how over-inflated expectations of the IoT market have failed to materialize. It is not alone: NB-IoT, the mobile industry's panicky response to Sigfox and LoRa, has been largely jobless since it was first standardized more than four years ago.
Enter Google Cloud
In an interview with VentureBeat toward the end of 2020, Sigfox VP of business development Ajay Rane said the company has learned some critical lessons and is finally on the right path.
It appears that Sigfox is now planning to reinvent itself, selling some of its networks – which it labels 0G (Ed: see what it did there?) – to cut costs and raise capital and placing more of an emphasis on helping companies make use of the data they gather from their connected devices.
It has already sold its network in Germany to Cube Infrastructure Managers, which also acquired a majority stake in Heliot Europe, the owner and operator of the Sigfox 0G networks in Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein, and apparently plans to sell its US and French networks in 2021.
A quick glance at its recent announcements reveals a flurry of deals with major companies to support enterprise IoT, including a recent signing with Tibbo Systems in Russia to market a combined asset tracking solution.
Now, Sigfox is moving its IoT solutions to the cloud in what appears to be a major efficiency drive. It has signed a partnership with Google Cloud "to scale its cloud infrastructure and extend its IoT services portfolio." Sigfox said it needed a more scalable, long-term solution that will enable it to process "billions of messages each month from objects connected to the Internet using data stored in the cloud."
Samuel Bonamigo, the vice president of sales for EMEA south at Google Cloud, indicated that the cloud giant would provide Sigfox "with more reliability and flexibility" in the next stage of its development.
This is also not the first time that Sigfox has partnered with Google Cloud: In 2019, the duo said their starter programs could be integrated to support IoT startups.
For Sigfox, 2021 looks set to be a crucial year in its IoT journey, accompanied by a more realistic view of what its technology can support as well as IoT market developments in the coming years.
- Sigfox Partners With Alps Alpine for IoT Components
- Putting a Sigfox in Canada's IoT Henhouse
- Sigfox US Boss Is Out as Offices Close in Boston, San Francisco
- Sigfox Still Shedding Top Execs, Including CTO – Sources
- Sigfox Loses CFO Martineau – Sources
- Sigfox Starts IoT Private Network Push
— Anne Morris, contributing editor, special to Light Reading