LABEGE, France – Sigfox, a startup based in the southwest corner of this country, has raised $115 million to fund a global expansion of its wireless network that is dedicated to connecting Internet of Things devices.
That amount tops the $100 million raised by Paris ride-sharing leader BlaBlaCar last summer, a round that at the time was considered the biggest ever in French history. The $115 million round not only will accelerate Sigfox’s growth, but it should cement its place at the top of any list of Europe’s hottest startups.
“This funding will demonstrate that we can work with other partners to provide a network that will help us achieve our vision of a world with more connected devices,” said Sigfox chief executive Ludovic Le Moan in an interview. “It was not easy when we started to raise this round because we didn’t know what the market would be like.”
While estimates vary, many observers expect billions of new smart devices that contain sensors and chips to be connected to the Internet in the coming decades. The gadgets range from health and fitness devices to smart meters to more complex machines used in heavy industrial production.
The French government has identified the IoT sector in general as an area of strength for the country’s startups, focusing on hardware, software and the networks that will enable a growing number of connected devices to communicate.
Sigfox has emerged as one of the country’s biggest names in this field by creating a cellular network that is designed specifically to provide a more reliable method for such smart devices to send and receive data. The network has been built in partnership with local telecom partners in countries such as France, Spain, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.
The company has plans to expand it soon to the United States and Asia. Le Moan said Sigfox is working on deals with local telecom companies in those markets. Sigfox currently has a three-person team based in San Francisco, but hopes to hire up to 30 more people in the U.S. and open an office on the east coast in anticipation of launching its service.
Overall, Sigfox has more than 80 employees, most of them based in Labege, a suburb located just outside of Toulouse that has become a hub for the region’s tech and startup scene. In a country where Paris still dominates finance and tech startups, it’s notable to see a major startup emerge in a region far outside the nation’s capital city.
Le Moan said he hopes to hire another 100 employees over the next year. The latest round of financing will fund new hiring as well as additional expansion of that network. Investors in the latest round include Spain’s Telefonica, France’s GDF Suez and Japan’s NTT DOCOMO Ventures.
Sigfox has previously raised $30 million over two rounds from Idinvest Partners, FSN PME, Ambition Numerérique, Intel Capital, Elaia Partner, Partech and Ixo Private Equity.