Connectivity platform provider Kore Wireless is continuing its acquisition streak, last week buying Integron, an IoT-focused managed services provider (MSP) that has been focused on connected healthcare. The buy supports Kore’s ambition to expand past its connectivity platform roots – a sensible decision, given the apparent freeze that has crept into that market.
A few years ago, you couldn’t move for mention of Jasper, a plucky firm that was bought by Cisco for $1.4bn in 2016, and seemingly since discarded. Jasper’s traditional booth at Mobile World Congress was gone from last year’s show, and the company was not to be found at Cisco’s main stand either, suggesting that Cisco was interested in Jasper to manage the mobile devices of its business customers, rather than the IoT devices that had fueled so much of the enthusiasm around the smaller firm.
But behind Jasper, there was a handful of smaller players, all of which could provide customers with connectivity plans to ensure that their devices would have an IoT network to rely on. These mainly addressed cellular devices, with a smattering of satellite and unlicensed low power WAN (U-LPWAN) services. The firms included Aeris, Kore and Stream – the last of which was recently acquired by ARM, to be integrated into its Pelion platform offering.
Aeris has been more visible than Kore, with 14m subscriptions, twice the figure in early 2016, and recently announced its new Fusion IoT network, built on the Google Cloud Platform, which it is billing as 5G-ready. Aeris seems committed to organic growth, but Kore is taking a different path and has been active on the M&A front as its investor/owner, ABRY Partners, tries to narrow the gap with Aeris.
Back in 2014, ABRY Partners took a majority stake in Kore, and immediately merged it with RacoWireless, a rival that had emerged from T-Mobile USA’s machine-to-machine division and which was led by John Horn, who later went on to head LPWAN companies OnRamp and Ingenu.
In 2016, Kore bought Wyless, another rival of sorts, to expand its global portfolio, taking the company to over 3,000 customers with over 6m devices, and revenues thought to be around $250m. In December 2018, Kore acquired Aspider-NGI, for an undisclosed sum, which added embedded SIM and core network expertise to its portfolio.
As of April 2018, Kore said it had 8.5m device subscriptions, from over 6,000 customers, but that was the last time it reported a figure publicly. By comparison, in March 2018, Jasper said it had 75m devices, and expected to add 100m connections based on the 4G IoT standard, NB-IoT, by 2020, just for China Mobile. It was reportedly adding 2m devices monthly, and had grown from 40m in 2017, and from 17m in 2016. This illustrates the lead that Jasper had over its competitors before Cisco changed its remit.
Kore had 3.5m in 2014, 6m in 2016, and 8.5m in 2018, only adding as many devices in two years as Jasper was adding in a month. This relatively low base seems to have motivated Kore to carry out an overhaul, announcing a rebranding in September 2018 that was intended to convey its new proposition, which centers on making IoT adoption for its customers as smooth as possible, and emphasizing the combined service offering.
This finally brings us to Integron, the latest purchase in this expansionist strategy. Kore says that the company will further its IoT solutions and managed services capability, with the combined entity’s largest vertical market being connected health and life sciences.
Integron was founded in 1985, and while headquartered in Rochester, New York, it also has an office in Ulestraten, in The Netherlands. It has experienced rapid growth in recent years, thanks to its position as an “expert IoT solution provider in highly regulated industries”.
“Our mission is clear: to simplify the complexities of IoT as a trusted advisor to our customers as we help them deploy, manage, and scale their mission-critical IoT solutions,” said Romil Bahl, CEO of Kore. “We are relentless in the pursuit of that mission and we are thrilled to broaden our scale and credentials with this acquisition.”
He added: “Integron is a respected company in IoT. Their expertise in serving key markets such as healthcare, pharmaceuticals, and life sciences has led to innovative IoT-enabled clinical trials and remote patient monitoring solutions. This acquisition also brings us some key certifications such as those from the ISO and FDA, uniquely positioning us ahead of our competition in regulated industries.”
Bryan Lubel, president of Integron, added: “The natural alignment of our businesses was uncanny; both Integron and Kore have become widely recognized in the IoT industry for bringing simplicity to complex IoT projects. The prospect of now adding scale and scope promises to benefit all of our partners and customers.”