All is not rosy in the world of French Tech. At a time when France and the government boast of counting, each week, a new “unicorn” moreover, these start-ups worth more than 1 billion dollars (896 million euros), Sigfox, a star of French technology in the mid-2010s, is struggling. The company specializing in networks for connected objects was placed, Wednesday, January 26, in receivership by the Commercial Court of Toulouse. Its debt amounts to 153 million euros, including 118 million in financial debt.
The six-month observation period granted by the court “should make it possible to identify, thanks to the implementation of a disposal plan, new buyers with the capacity to work for the long-term development of Sigfox, and to propose maintaining jobs”, explains the company in a press release. Based in Labège (Haute-Garonne), near Toulouse, Sigfox employs around 300 people, including 250 in France. The company would preferably target an industrial buyer, interested in its in-house technology.
Co-created in 2009 by Ludovic Le Moan and Christophe Fourtet, Sigfox was the initiator of a telecom network called “0G”. Its principle: low frequencies which make it possible to connect objects (transport pallets, measuring devices, etc.) with low energy and bandwidth consumption.
300 million euros raised in total
But Ludovic Le Moan wanted to hit hard: a global network, if not nothing, which required significant financial resources. Sigfox, which openly dreamed of going public, raised a total of nearly 300 million euros from renowned investors: Bpifrance, the European Investment Bank (EIB), Idinvest investment funds, Partech or Elliott.
Manufacturers have been seduced, such as Total, through its venture capital fund Total Energy Ventures, Intel or Horizon, the investment company of Henri Seydoux, founder of the drone manufacturer Parrot and son of Jérôme Seydoux ( Pathe). The company had also formed a prestigious board of directors, headed by Anne Lauvergeon, the former president of the Areva management board.
But it was not enough. While Sigfox has spent its money to build its network in France, Germany and the United States, supplemented by agreements with local partners in 75 countries, customers have not followed, not enough, in any case, to cover operating costs.
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