A number of companies are hedging their bets on the Internet of Things (IoT) becoming a huge business that will generate billions in revenues. But IoT is in its early stages, and for many companies, particularly telecom operators, IoT still accounts for a small percentage of their overall revenues.
That’s why many companies are making acquisitions to build their IoT businesses and rapidly increase their customer bases. Verizon is an example of one telecom player that is making big bets in IoT. The company made some significant acquisitions in the IoT space in 2016, as outlined below.
But Verizon isn’t alone. Here’s a list of some of the biggest and boldest IoT acquisitions in 2016 that we think are worth revisiting.
1. SoftBank Acquires ARM for $32 Billion
Japanese telecom provider SoftBank announced in July that it would acquire ARM for a whopping $32 billion. ARM is well known for designing chips and licensing them to phone makers like Samsung and Apple. The company shipped about 15 billion chips in 2015.
The deal closed Sept. 5, less than two months after it was announced.
SoftBank is expected to use the ARM acquisition to bolster its IoT business. The Japanese company is betting big on the IoT space and is hoping ARM will help it grab a leadership position.
SoftBank also owns Sprint, which it purchased in 2013. This telecom giant’s mix of businesses — both on the network and chip side — could bring some interesting synergies in the year ahead.
2. Verizon Expands IoT Expertise Through Acquisitions
When it comes to IoT, Verizon has been on a buying spree. The company made several purchases in 2016 in an attempt to achieve an IoT stronghold in the U.S.
The biggest deal happened in August when Verizon acquired fleet management software firm Fleetmatics for $2.4 billion in cash. Fleetmatics’ GPS tracking system lets fleet operators monitor vehicle location, fuel usage, speed, and mileage as well as other diagnostic information.
With this deal, Verizon gets access to Fleetmatics’ software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform and the company’s 37,000 customers. It’s estimated that Verizon also added 737,000 subscribers to its IoT network with the acquisition.
The Fleetmatics deal followed a similar transaction in June when Verizon acquired Telogis, a California-based developer of telematics and fleet-logistics systems that are used by major automakers like Ford and General Motors.
But that’s not all. Verizon also made a couple of acquisitions in the smart cities area. In September, the company purchased Sensity Systems, a Sunnyvale, California-based privately held LED lighting company. Verizon said it planned to integrate Sensity’s technology into its ThingSpace IoT platform, allowing light owners to embed networking technology within new LED luminaries and deploy smart city applications.
And in November, the company acquired most of the assets of privately held LQD WiFi. The goal of that deal was to accelerate the development of smart cities through LQD’s public WiFi technology and improve transportation and traffic, as well as enhance security and urban planning.
3. Cisco Acquires Jasper Technologies for $1.4 Billion
In February Cisco acquired IoT startup Jasper Technologies for $1.4 billion in cash.
At the time, Jasper had more than 3,500 enterprise and 27 service provider customers connecting devices through its IoT SaaS platform. And Jasper’s portfolio of customers is impressive, including such big names as Ford, General Motors and Heineken.
Jasper’s technology helps connect anything from cars to jet engines to implanted pacemakers to mobile networks around the globe.
Analysts lauded the deal. By acquiring Jasper, Cisco gets inroads with an important relevant customer base and also secures a mature IoT platform that can be combined with Cisco’s own IoT services such as security, advanced analytics, and enterprise WiFi.
4. TDK Buys Sensor Manufacturer InvenSense for $1.3B
Japan-based electronic components manufacturer TDK announced in December that it is buying InvenSense for $1.3 billion in cash as part of its IoT strategy. InvenSense makes sensors for the consumer electronics and industrial markets.
The deal is intended to help TDK boost its sensor technology and will couple TDK’s smartphone components expertise with new technologies from InvenSense like gyroscopes, which help smartphones calculate motion. InvenSense also is considered a pioneer of sensor fusion, where multiple sensor inputs are processed locally to produce more meaningful data.
The companies expect the deal to close in the fiscal quarter ending March 31, 2018. Following the merger, InvenSense would operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of TDK.
5. GE Digital Makes Multiple IoT Purchases
Like Verizon, GE Digital has been racking up the IoT deals in the past year to help expand its Predix IoT platform. Predix was originally created as a foundation for GE’s own IoT applications and then launched as an independent platform in February. The company expects Predix to generate around $15 billion in revenue by 2020.
In September, GE purchased IoT software firm Meridium for $495 million. Meridium, which is based in Roanoke, Virginia, has developed asset-tracking software that uses real-time analytics.
Meridium’s software helps industrial customers, which include a lot of oil and gas refineries, to predict when machinery might fail and track the efficiency of their operations, such as determining ways to save fuel costs. GE said it plans to integrate Meridium’s software into its Predix IoT platform to strengthen its asset-tracking offering.
Bit Stew uses machine learning to automate data modeling and can be used to process data in real time, and Wise.io applies machine learning to large sets of data. Wise.io’s tools can also be used for customer support.
6. Nokia Buys Withings for $193 Million
Nokia announced in April that it was purchasing IoT company Withings for $193 million in cash. Withings offers digital health products and services and has about 200 employees. The deal closed in June, and Withings became part of Nokia’s technology group.
Withings will help Nokia boost its portfolio of wearables and fitness devices. Withings’ products include the Activité smartwatch, E-ink fitness tracker, and Bluetooth thermometer.