A Week in IoT: Broadcom mulls $100bn bid for Qualcomm, as Ayla banks $60m Chinese backing

Broadcom Ltd. is rumoured to be considering a bid of up to US$ 100 billion for Qualcomm Inc., according to a report by Bloomberg. As Jeremy Cowan writes, if it goes ahead this could be one of the biggest ever acquisitions of a chipmaker.

In separate news, Ayla Networks, a provider of enterprise-grade IoT Platforms-as-a-Service (PaaS) has won $ 60 million in new funding from Chinese backers.

With data storage and networking interests ranging from the automotive sector through industrial and medical to energy providers, Broadcom is understood to be talking to its advisers this weekend about a potential deal. If it goes ahead, an offer of approximately $ 70 a share may be made in the next few days. The scale of this deal would eclipse Softbank’s acquisition of ARM Holdings in July 2016. (See our report: Three IoT lessons from the Softbank acquisition of ARM.) On Thursday, Broadcom CEO and president, Hock E. Tan announced at the White House that the company intends to initiate a “redomiciliation process” to change the parent company of the Broadcom corporate group from a Singapore company to a U.S. corporation. This will happen whether or not there is corporate tax reform in the United States.

Writing exclusively in IoT Now in November 2016, Frost & Sullivan called this new wave of acquisitions in an article headlined, Will Qualcomm’s acquisition of NXP Semiconductors trigger a new wave of market consolidation?

Qualcomm shares have been depressed lately by an ongoing legal battle with Apple. Another problem for the company’s management has been its inability to close the planned $ 47 billion purchase of NXP Semiconductors NV. This follows a regulatory delay in Europe and shareholder opposition from hedge fund investor Elliott Management Corporation which says the offer undervalues NXP. (Also see our report: Qualcomm focuses on IoT as it agrees to buy chipset maker NXP Semiconductors for US$ 47bn.)

Qualcomm shares closed up 13% at $ 61.81, valuing the company at $ 91 billion. Broadcom stocks also rose 5.5%, giving the company a market capitalisation of almost $ 112 billion. (Also see: Qualcomm introduces new platform naming structure as ‘processor’ doesn’t capture its anthology of technology.)

IoT platform provider Ayla Networks wins $ 60m in Series D funding

Santa Clara, California-based Ayla Networks this week raised $ 60 million in Series D financing led by China’s Run Liang Tai Fund (RLT) and Sunsea Telecommunications Co. Ltd. The investment will be used to further expand Ayla’s product capabilities to help large enterprises extract IoT data and transform it into business intelligence, and to expand its ecosystem network of partners and application providers.

David Friedman, Ayla Networks’ CEO and founder.

 

To date, Ayla’s focus has been in markets such as heating, ventilation & air-conditioning (HVAC), water management and home control. More recently, the company has expanded into serving large retail, industrial, telco and service provider, and medical markets. From these markets, the amount of data being fed into the platform is said by Ayla to be growing 500% year-on-year.

David Friedman, Ayla CEO and co-founder (right) says, “The Ayla platform (offers) a […]

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IoT platform Ayla Networks announces $60M Series D financing

Aylya Networks, an IoT Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) company announced that it has raised $ 60M in Series D financing. The round was led by Run Liang Tai Fund (RLT) and Sunsea Telecommunications Co. Ltd.

PaaG Architecture Diagram

The company doubled down on the funding path as it previously raised $ 39M Series C in June last year. The current financing brings Ayla Network’s total equity funding to approximately $ 124M since its launch in 2010.

The company will use the latest proceeds to expand platform capabilities and to grow the ecosystem which includes application providers and channel partners.

Ayla focuses on the leading product manufacturers enabling them to make their products internet-connected via Ayla Network’s PaaS. Its end-to-end software runs across devices, the cloud, and applications to provide internet connectivity and device analytics. The Wi-Fi modules of leading hardware vendors have pre-built Ayla embedded agent. The Ayla Cloud provides a managed service where customers can track their ‘connected deployments’.

“Ayla has amassed more than 100 large enterprise customers by solving their challenges regarding how to securely connect, manage and apply intelligence to all of their connected devices and sensors.”David Friedman, Ayla CEO and co-founder

Ayla has adopted a ‘mobile-first’ approach. The company offers mobile application libraries containing APIs. The APIs can be used to create iOS and Android apps for Ayla-enabled products.

Another ‘platform-based’ company connecting consumer products to the internet is Evrythng. It raised $ 24.8 million Series B funding in March this year.


Postscapes: Tracking the Internet of Things

UK start-up Babylon raises $60m for AI-based doctor app

UK start-up Babylon, which specializes in remote health applications, has doubled its valuation in its latest funding round, raising $ 60 million.

The funding brings the company’s valuation to more than $ 200 million since its previous funding round, which took place in January 2016.

Babylon will use the money to build its artificial intelligence (AI) healthcare platform, which aims to help patients to diagnose their ailments via a smartphone.

The company’s Series A funding round, led by Swedish investment group, AB Kinnevik, raised $ 25 million. The founders of DeepMind, the AI group acquired by Google in 2014, Demis Hassabis and Mustafa Suleyman, were also involved in that round.

According to the Financial Times, this round of funding includes backing from Egyptian billionaire business family, the Sawiris. The family’s Orascom conglomerate spans telecommunications, construction, tourism and technology.

Currently, Babylon’s app enables patients to type their symptoms into a chat box, much like texting. From there, the AI will perform triage for urgent but non-life-threatening conditions. Patients with urgent needs are directed to a human doctor.

As well as performing triage, the app includes a paid-for video consultation function costing roughly $ 6.15 a month.

Beyond triage

The app is currently used by 800,000 people worldwide and is being trialled by the UK’s National Health Service, with a test group involving 1.2 million people in London. Babylon claims that 10 percent of the adult population of Rwanda (total population around 12 million) registered with the company in its first six months of operating in that country, where it has signed a deal with the government.

Now, the company wishes to improve upon the speed and sophistication of the apps medical diagnoses with this round of funding.

“We already have a machine that can diagnose the majority of primary clinical conditions, so the next step is to get clinically certified by the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, and the US Food and Drug Administration,” said Ali Parsa, chief executive of Babylon. “We will also invest heavily into predicting disease ahead of time.”

Read more: Data scientists developing doctor chatbots for ‘self-treatable’ conditions

To achieve this, Babylon says it has curated the largest knowledge graphs of medical content, and made advances in various applications of deep learning techniques adapted specifically for healthcare.

In a press release, Parsa added “Cutting-edge artificial intelligence, together with ever-increasing advances in medicine, means that the promise of global good health is nearer than most people realize.

“Babylon scientists predict that we will shortly be able to diagnose and foresee personal health issues better than doctors, but this is about machines and medics cooperating, not competing.

“Doctors do a lot more than diagnosis: artificial intelligence will be a tool that will allow doctors and health care professionals to become more accessible and affordable for everyone on earth. It will allow them to focus on the things that humans will be best at for a long time to come.”

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