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Sigfox seeks new USA president; responds to staff exits, office moves, sales talk

Sigfox USA has confirmed its president, Christian Olivier, has left the business. It said the decision was mutual, and the business is preparing a new appointment to drive the “next stage” of expansion of its network operations in the US.

The French IoT firm also said its recent office closures in Boston and San Francisco are part of a deliberate strategy to be closer to a “like-mined entrepreneurial innovative community where ideas spark”. It has set up in co-working spaces in the cities instead.

At the same time, Sigfox did not rule out selling any of the networks it owns by itself, if a sale accelerated their expansion. Of the 60 countries it is present in, Sigfox owns networks in three: in France and Germany, as well as the US.

The rest are owned and operated by independent network operators, exclusive to each market.

“In those countries we have not initiated any network sale process, however we are always open to opportunities to accelerate time to market,” said Jeremy Prince, chief strategy officer at Sigfox.

Former president Olivier, a Canadian national, was 11 months into the job, after replacing Allen Proithis last February. In the end, he was unable to commit “full time” to the US business, the company implied. His replacement will be a permanent US resident, it said.

“Christian Olivier is no longer with Sigfox USA. Christian did a great job during his tenure with Sigfox, moving to the next stage would have required him to move full time to the US,” said Prince. “Given this, we mutually agreed we needed a new leader based in the US to take Sigfox USA to the next level.”

The company confirmed management of the US operation will be split between its senior team in the country, alongside Prince and Carlos Beato, its vice president for the Americas region. “Sigfox USA relies on a strong team of committed managers,” said Prince.

In a rounded defence, Sigfox was responding to a report in Light Reading that its USA operation has missed targets, closed offices, lost staff, and even reviewed the sale of its own network operations. It maintained business was good in the US, without revealing targets, or its performance against them.

“Sigfox USA has achieved significant momentum across our business in the past year and we are confident our leadership team will maintain this growth and success while we conduct a thorough search for a new leader,” said Prince.

Sigfox told Enterprise IoT Insights before Christmas its coverage in the US has reached about 30 per cent of the population. Its technology exists in 1,700 base stations in 100 US cities – scattered over 24 metropolitan areas. The company’s approach to network expansion is tactical, it explained; it is seeking enterprise partners to host its base stations and make use of its services.

Prince said: “We do not disclose our financials and forecasts. Momentum, adoption, and network growth is steadily increasing in the US with coverage in over 24 major metros and 30 per cent of the population. We see strong traction in key verticals including hospitality, agriculture, and shipping and logistics.”

Its Boston and San Francisco offices have not closed, but only changed location, he said. “We wanted to be in a work environment with companies of all sizes and be part of a like-mined entrepreneurial innovative community where ideas spark and turn into opportunities.”

He added: “Management was convinced, and we decided to move to co-working spaces in Boston and San Francisco. After a month, feedback is overwhelmingly positive.”

A number of recent management exits, including of US sales director Sean Horan, was explained away as “normal” in the context of the company’s relative youth and growth.

“While it is always unfortunate to see people depart, it is part of a company’s normal life, and especially in a fast-growth environment. However, on a positive note, it does give the opportunity to welcome new talent,” said Prince.

Horan has joined to take charge of enterprise sales for embedded products at US wireless outfit OptConnect.

Prince commented: “Sean was an instrumental contributor to our growth and Sigfox USA benefited greatly from his contributions during his three-and-a-half year tenure. While we are sad to see him go, we are proud his Sigfox experience has given him the opportunity to reach the next stage of his career.”

Besides a number of departures, including of chief technology officer Raoul Mallart before Christmas, Sigfox has also recruited: Prince joined as group strategy officer in November; former Nokia man Murray Kawchuk was drafted in as vice president of sales in the US in October; Verizon veteran Franck Siegel joined as chief delivery officer back in January.

Sigfox has set a target to secure ‘global’ coverage by setting up in China, India, and Russia, plugging three major gaps in its existing footprint, it said in December. The company has outlines what it calls a ‘0G’ strategy, which describes generally the application of Sigfox as a benchmark technology for 3G and 4G, and all the other technology-Gs going in a future 5G ecosystem.

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