Anaren spins off IoT Group to Liebl’s new Atmosphere IoT Corp amid $775m sale to TTM Technologies

Anaren, Inc. of East Syracuse, NY has divested some key assets and agreements from its IoT Group to a team led by former Anaren executive, Jeff Liebl. The assets have been spun off to Anaren’s IoT Group management team, which recently formed Atmosphere IoT Corp. Jeremy Cowan reports.

The divestiture is being made as part of the previously announced sale of US-based Anaren, Inc. to TTM Technologies (TTMI.O) for US$ 775 million. IoT Now understands that the IoT deal closed on January 2, but terms were not disclosed. (Also see: Anaren appoints Jeff Liebl as IoT group president.)

Former Anaren IoT Group president Jeff Liebl and senior engineer Kieron Gillespie now serve as president & CEO, and CTO, respectively of Atmosphere IoT Corp ( “We are very excited about the market opportunity right in front of us,” says Liebl. “With our proven cloud software platform and core development team intact, we can devote our efforts to serving the mass market of global developers and OEMs seeking to create the next generation of wireless-enabled, cloud-connected products and solutions.”

Jeff Liebl has executive-level experience in cloud software, wireless and predictive analytics companies. Prior to serving as president, IoT Group for Anaren, Inc., he was the chief marketing officer at Digi International (NASDAQ: DGII). Earlier, he held leadership roles in sales, marketing and general management at eBureau, Ubiquity Software, Jetstream Communications, and 3Com Corporation. Jeff Liebl holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Michigan.

Talking exclusively to IoT Now, Liebl said: “As an independent company, we’ll be focused on building out our web-based IDE (Integrated Development Environment) to support all the leading IoT building blocks out there (sensors, MCUs, IDEs, mobile app platforms, cloud platforms, etc.) in order to meet the rapid IoT product development needs of the ‘mass market’ of IoT developers and OEMs. We want to make building a complete sensor-to-cloud solution as easy as one could dream it to be.”

Kieron Gillespie, co-founder and CTO of Atmosphere IoT Corp.

Atmosphere IoT’s co-founder and chief technology officer, Kieron Gillespie has a background in IoT cloud solutions, creating development tools and software. His prior experiences include developing software with Assured Information Security, and research and development while senior software systems engineer for Anaren Inc.’s IoT Group. Gillespie graduated from Clarkson University with Honours with degrees in Physics, Computer Science, and Mathematics.

Previously a part of Anaren, Inc., Atmosphere IoT claims to offer the fastest and simplest way to create, deploy, and manage complete device-to-cloud solutions. Unveiled in January 2015, its cloud platform has been used by thousands of developers and original equipment makers (OEMs) to build and deploy wireless-enabled connected product solutions.

The Atmosphere IoT team has now been joined by Richard LaBorde as director of Business Development.

Larry Sala, president and CEO of Anaren says, “This is an excellent outcome for everyone, including our IoT-related customers. We wish the IoT Group team the very best as they take the Atmosphere software platform to the next level.”

Best known as a radar components maker Anaren Inc is being […]

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u-blox NB-IoT module for sale with subsidy

u-blox has announced sale of SARA-N201 NB-IoT module on China Telecom Tianyigou purchasing platform. Customers who purchase modules through Tianyigou can avail a per-unit subsidy of RMB 20.

China Telecom currently operates the world’s largest Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) network. Last summer, the mobile network operator announced a 200 million yuan (US$ 32 million) push to promote early development of NB-IoT applications that run on its network.

SARAN201 comes fully certified for operation on China Telecom’s NB-IoT network and is in mass production. Also, the u-blox SARA-N200 NB-IoT module has passed China Unicom’s certification test. The company is confident that their NB‑IoT range of solutions will further steer way of communications. NB-IoT enables communication with “things” that require small amounts of data, over long periods, in hard to reach places.

“This is the first time that China Telecom has included a NB-IoT u-blox product in its online offering,” says Perry Zhang, Principal Strategic Partnerships at ublox. “Aside from increasing our visibility in China, this benefits our Chinese customers by qualifying them to receive financial support towards their purchase.”

u-blox solutions enable people, vehicles and machines to locate their exact position and communicate wirelessly over cellular and short range networks. ublox is uniquely positioned to empower OEMs to develop innovative solutions for the IoT, quickly and cost effectively.

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August’s sale is just one in consumer IoT’s year of reckoning

August’s smart locks will join the Yale locks at Assa Abloy.

This week Swedish lock company Assa Abloy said it would buy August, the maker connected locks. I also found out that Immedia, the company that makes the Blink cameras and alarm system is also on the market. Blink didn’t respond to my inquiry about it being for sale.

Meanwhile, rumors are flying about a variety of companies including Canary, the maker of an all-in-one security device that generated headlines this month after it rolled back some features because they cost too much to provide.  Canary’s CEO Adam Sager says the company is not for sale and has never been. Others floated Grid Connect, which offers a series of Wi-Fi connected sensors and switches through a subsidiary called ConnectSense. Adam Justice, a VP and GM at Grid Connect said the company is talking to strategic partners but is not formally for sale.

Several other startups popped up on the radar but I couldn’t confirm them with more than one person or see the book (a presentation for potential buyers) for the companies. Even so, there is clearly a reckoning in the connected device market. Two startups, Juicero and Hello, a company making a sleep tracker called the Sense, have shut down.

Several companies have already been sold this year, including Wink, iDevices, Stringify (to Comcast), Arrayent (to Prodea), Anova (to Electrolux) and Beddit (to Apple). Others like WigWag have switched from selling to consumers to selling to industrial clients (or are trying to).

This isn’t a surprise. One of my predictions about 2017 was that it would be the year of M&A for connected home companies. After raising fat rounds or getting their products out the door and trying to make a go of it, many companies are realizing that supporting consumer-grade hardware products takes resources that are hard to fund without deep pockets.

Meanwhile, venture firms have moved on to the more lucrative industrial internet of things (IIoT) opportunities. CB Insights, which tracks venture funding, noted that in 2017 funding slowed for smart home companies. Plus, a large portion of the funding was going to just a few companies that were raising later rounds. For example, Ring raised a $ 109 million round in January, while August announced a $ 25 million round in April.

As of June smart home companies had raised $ 188 million this year. The year before in 2016, they had raised $ 752 million across 92 deals, according to CB Insights data. However, on the industrial side companies in 2016 raised $ 2.2 billion in 321 deals. Industrial IoT is hot. Consumer is not.

One challenge that many connected home startups (and their investors) are discovering is that valuations are not tied to the sky-high numbers associated with acquirers like Google. When Google purchased Nest for $ 3.2 billion in 2014 it set off a frenzy of hope for big deals that haven’t come to pass.

One entrepreneur told me that instead of “Google money” companies are pitching established, old-line companies that make real products or offer services like security systems. Those companies aren’t as excited about revenue growth. They want to see high gross margins and deals that will be accretive to the their bottom lines. That’s hard to come by in Silicon Valley.

Another challenge is that many of the larger companies are looking at what startups have built and believe they can offer something similar without going through an acquisition. For example, next month Honeywell will launch an all-in-one security product reminiscent of Canary’s on Indiegogo. GE has a partnership with Indiegogo and an effort called FirstBuild to create connected consumer products that might find a market. One of the latest efforts from GE’s FirstBuild group is a line of bakeware that connects to a connected oven and tells people when a cheesecake or quiche is done. GE is also introducing algorithms to its ovens in 2018 to improve cooking–something a startup called June has pioneered.

For connected device companies, the squeeze is on. As for what we’ll see next year, my bet is those that are left will soon be competing on cost against giants and Chinese companies. It’s probably enough to make the smart money get out early. If they can.

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