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French Wireless Startup Sigfox Seeks $200 Million in Funding

  • Sells low-cost networks inspired by World War I technology
  • U.S. IPO by mid-2017 could be part of CEO Le Moan's plans

Sigfox, the French startup that makes low-cost wireless networks to connect devices using technology from World War I, is seeking at least $200 million in financing as Chief Executive Officer Ludovic Le Moan explores a Nasdaq listing.

After raising $115 million in February from investors including Telefonica SA and NTT Docomo Inc., the Toulouse-based company will seek another $200 million to $300 million by next year to expand its grid for cars, fridges and home-security systems. An initial public offering in the U.S. by mid-2017 could be part of funding plans, Le Moan said in an interview near Paris.

“There is a real opportunity today to be a leader in the Internet of things space because there is nobody with a network to cover the whole world,” Le Moan said. “The plan for Sigfox is to have global coverage. We already have 10 countries covered.”

Sigfox’s network, used for automated objects rather than mobile devices, is inspired by how submarines communicated during World War I, using wavelengths that carry less information but travel farther. Samsung Electronics Co. invested in June, joining a line of financiers including energy provider Engie and gas-maker Air Liquide SA. They’re all seeking widespread yet cheap networks to collect information from electricity meters or smartwatches, which send small amounts of data at a time.

Sigfox’s networks are constructed in the same manner as those of traditional carriers, with a grid of connected cells that cover an area and link back a central network. Simple information such as the location of a device, energy consumption, an alarm, or any other type of basic sensor information can be sent inexpensively.

Meanwhile, carriers from Verizon Communications Inc. to the U.K.’s Vodafone Group Plc are spending billions building ultra-fast networks that carry increasing amounts of data to and from smartphones, purchasing their equipment from vendors such as Ericsson AB, Nokia Oyj or Huawei Technologies Co.

Sigfox is among a growing list of French technology companies that are seeking funds. Spotify Ltd. rival Deezer is seeking to raise capital through a private placement or IPO, in a transaction that could value it at about 1 billion euros, people familiar with the matter said this month. Comuto SA’s BlaBlaCar, a carpool platform that connects drivers with passengers, was speaking to investors for new financing that would value the company at more than $1 billion, people familiar with the plans said in June.

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