Salesforce's corporate investment group Salesforce Ventures and energy giant Total are among the latest investors in Sigfox, which today announced it has raised about $159 million.
Sigfox said it will use the Series E funding round to accelerate expansion of its global network and soon reach worldwide coverage. Other new investors include Henri Seydoux, Swen CP and Tamer Group—Intel Capital is among existing shareholders that reinvested in the company.
Although the company has its share of critics and rivals, the latest round is indicative of the company’s ability to gain traction as it uses unlicensed spectrum to compete with other low-power, wide area (LPWA) technologies like LoRa. LoRa is its main non-cellular rival that got its start in California chipmaker Semtech.
Increasingly, Sigfox could be seen as competing with cellular carriers whose standards-based IoT technologies are based on existing LTE networks, while Sigfox constructs its own network. However, Sigfox representatives played down any competitive threat as they aim for the lower-cost IoT market. The company recently introduced “ultra-low cost” modules that start at $2 each in some geographies and $3 in the Americas and Asia.
Allen Proithis, president of Sigfox North America, told FierceWirelessTech in a recent interview that traditional cellular technologies are complementary to what Sigfox is doing.
“While cellular and related technologies have an important role to play, the majority of the market is actually un-addressable by them,” the reason being a combination of cost, battery and user experience, he said. “We’re not trying to be all things to all people, there’s many things we cannot do. We’re optimized for what we do best,” which includes small messages and long battery life.
Two previous investors not included on today's list of investors are Spanish operator Telefónica and South Korea's SK Telecom, Light Reading pointed out, noting that most cellular operators appear to be leaning toward either LoRa or 3GPP-backed standards, such as NB-IoT, for their IoT deployments.
When asked by La Tribune why no telecom operators are part of the latest investment, Sigfox CEO Ludovic Le Moan said the company was not actively looking for telecom operators specifically, but more industrial players—hence the arrival of Total and Salesforce, the latter of which will help Sigfox value the data that will be transmitted over the network.
The company vowed earlier this year to deploy its network in 100 U.S. cities by the end of 2016. Given the new funding, the company said it plans to cover 30 countries by the end of the year and 60 by 2018 while reaching the financial break-even point.
According to Venture Beat, the latest round for Sigfox ranked among the largest ever in France. Sigfox has emerged as one of the hottest startups in France, and has now raised a total of nearly $300 million in venture capital.