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Vodacom to acquire 51% stake in IoT.nxt for undisclosed sum

Tuesday 14 May 2019 | News

Vodacom said it will acquire a 51 percent stake in South African Internet of Things specialist IoT.nxt. The value of the deal has not been disclosed by Vodacom and is subject to approval by the Competition Commission. IoT.nxt was founded by Nico Steyn in 2015.

Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub said the acquisition will help the company to enhance its IoT offering. Joosub said that IoT.nxt offers unique edge technology and a tech-agnostic platform that can play a significant role in solving the challenges of legacy systems that have integration limitations.

This acquisition, Joosub said, will position Vodacom as the digitisation partner of choice for customers. The IoT.nxt brand will also remain, added Steyn. IoT.nxt currently has numerous clients in the South African IT and telecoms market, including Telkom, Cell C, Fastnet and T-Systems.

Vodacom acquires stake in IoT.nxt

14 May 2019 Thabiso Mochiko

Vodacom Group has bought a 51% stake in IoT.nxt to accelerate its Internet of Things (IoT) strategy.

IoT refers to networks of physical devices that use sensors to connect and transfer data over the internet. In the year to March, Vodacom’s IoT customers grew 24.4% to 4.5-million.

IoT.nxt provides a wide spectrum of IoT products with operations in the US, Europe and SA.

Vodacom Group CEO Shameel Joosub says the acquisition of IoT.nxt brings a number of advantages to Vodacom’s existing IoT capability, including a technology platform that will allow the group “to better orchestrate” the information obtained from sensors and edge devices, among other things. It will also “enable us to further scale our IoT business across multiple verticals as we move up the value-chain”, he said

Joosub said Vodacom will continue to seek strategic acquisition opportunities to drive ongoing investment in the IoT sector.

IoT.nxt CEO Nico Steyn said Vodacom’s investment will provide the company “with the freedom to expand our business vision while we build a class-leading product that will be sold globally, through multiple channels, including Vodacom’s competitors”.

IoT.nxt’s management team will continue to run the company, working closely with Vodacom’s IoT business led by Vodacom Business CEO William Mzimba.

[email protected]

Nico Steyn talks to Power987fm about IoT.nxt’s development

Following the announcement that Vodacom acquired a majority stake in IoT.nxt, CEO Nico Steyn shares what this means for the company and also talks about how IoT.nxt was founded. Listen here: https://bit.ly/2Q5j9QE

Vodacom acquires 51% of SA startup IoT.nxt

Staff reporter 15 May 2019

Vodacom has reached an agreement to acquire a majority stake in SA Internet of Things (IoT) startup IoT.nxt.

While neither Vodacom or IoT.nxt have disclosed the amount the telco paid to acquire a majority stake in the startup, it’s likely to be in the hundreds of millions of rands.

IoT.nxt startup has raised R120-million in two rounds in under four years, from Talent10, a Midrand-based asset management company which currently holds a 30% stake in the startup (though this was taken at a time when the startup was generating far lower revenue than it is now).

Vodacom said in a SENS announcement (opens as PDF) on Monday (13 May) that it had entered into an agreement to purchase a 51% equity interest in 10T Holdings and IoT.nxt BV. The transaction is subject to the approval of the Competition Commission, it said.

The telco said the deal will “significantly accelerate” Vodacom’s Internet of Things (IoT) strategy and transform its dedicated IoT business unit.
The Pretoria-based startup, which is led by co-founder and CEO Nico Steyn (pictured above) was founded in 2015, focuses on delivering innovative IoT software and hardware solutions.

IoT.nxt’s open platform network enables users of the platform to carry out rapid software development and integration.

In a statement yesterday Vodacom Group CEO Shameel Joosub said in addition to accelerating Vodacom’s IoT strategy, its investment in IoT.nxt brings a number of advantages to Vodacom’s existing IoT capability, including class-leading platform technology.

Read more: https://bit.ly/2EefiMA

Vodacom drives Internet of Things strategy with IoT.nxt acquisition

14 May 2019

Vodacom Group has reached an agreement to acquire a majority stake in IoT.nxt in a move that will significantly accelerate Vodacom’s Internet of Things (IoT) strategy and transform its dedicated IoT business unit. Vodacom has identified IoT as a key strategic growth area for the Group. This latest acquisition will enable Vodacom to operate across the full IoT value chain and develop best-in-class solutions for clients across a number of industry verticals.

IoT.nxt develops world-class technology and is an industry-leading end-to-end IoT solutions provider with operations in the USA, Europe and South Africa.

Vodacom Group CEO Shameel Joosub says:
“In addition to accelerating Vodacom’s Internet of Things strategy, our investment in IoT.nxt brings a number of advantages to Vodacom’s existing IoT capability, including class-leading platform technology. For example, this will allow us to better orchestrate the information obtained from sensors and edge devices as well as enable us to further scale our IoT business across multiple verticals as we move up the value-chain. Vodacom will continue to seek strategic acquisition opportunities to drive ongoing investment in the IoT sector and to become the digitalisation partner of choice for enterprise clients and customers.”

IoT.nxt CEO Nico Steyn says:
“This partnership is incredibly exciting for IoT.nxt. It allows us to combine the power of our technology and the considerable strength of Vodacom’s capabilities, footprint and brand. Vodacom has critically evaluated many platforms globally, and has had operational success in projects with us, so this partnership resulted from these wins. IoT.nxt delivers significant technical differentiation and allows Vodacom to leverage the technology across all industries, allowing for both scalability and rapid time-to-market. Vodacom’s investment will provide us with the freedom to expand our business vision while we build a class-leading product that will be sold globally, through multiple channels, including Vodacom’s competitors.”

Read more: BizNews

Vodacom making good on key strategic growth areas

By Ruan Jooste 14 May 2019

Vodacom has taken a small but significant step by acquiring a majority stake in IoT.nxt – a local Internet of Things company, signaling that it may see its future leaning towards new services technologies.

Vodacom is further venturing into new services and technologies that will use mobile networks as a connection point or hub. It has announced that it is buying a majority stake in IoT.nxt – a local Internet of Things company based in Centurion. IoT.nxt is one of the gems in the stable of investment holding company Talent10 Holdings, of which Sipho Nkosi, current chairman of Sasol and former Exxaro CEO, is a majority shareholder.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers and ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.

“Our acquisition of IoT.nxt, with their unique edge technology and tech-agnostic platform, plays a significant role in solving the challenges of legacy systems that have limitations of integration and will position Vodacom extremely well in being the digitalisation partner of choice for customers, beyond connectivity,” says Shameel Joosub CEO of Vodacom, during a webcast with the media discussing the annual results for the year ended 31 March 2019.

“IoT.nxt CEO Nico Steyn says that IoT is bringing new insights into business and is disrupting different sectors. As a result, most industries now looking towards digitisation, like IoT, to start driving productivity and efficiency.

The company has established itself as quite the niche player in this space in SA with clients like Vodacom, Anglo American, Bidvest and PPS, to name a few listed as clients on their website. It has also made significant inroads into Europe and the US.

The firm has already invested heavily in applications and online platforms, leveraging Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and Robotic Process Automation to improve its customer service. And with this latest acquisition, one thing is very certain: customer service is at the crux of Vodafone’s future strategy.

“By introducing new ways of using big data and machine learning, we now use this to drive intelligent decision making including optimising capex investment, greater sophistication in financial services and constantly improving our personalised product offers to customers,” says Joosub.

“We expect the solid momentum from our digital services platforms to continue. Further, the strategic partnerships being formed by our Enterprise business will strengthen our IoT offers and Enterprise propositions, ultimately to the benefit of consumers. It has announced that its IoT division has over 4 million connections to its IoT platform.

The analyst firm Gartner says that by 2020 there will be over 26-billion connected devices.

Vodacom recognised the unique offering in IoT technology and made this investment to allow it to leverage the entire IoT value chain,” says Wayne Fitzjohn, Talent10 CEO. “This investment will drive development and expansion into more territories for IoT.nxt and allow the company to further commercialise a number of its vertical solutions to off the shelf products, without slowing down its core development and innovation of its platform,” he says.

IoT has long been hailed as an opportune market and with the pending launch of 5G, it’s likely the technology will soon become the norm.

In fact, Vodacom IoT technologies are already embedded within several connected vehicles built by firms such as Audi, BMW, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Jaguar Land Rover, Porsche, SEAT, VW and Yamaha motorbikes.

In March, Vodacom Business announced findings of its latest IoT Barometer 2019, which highlights a clear picture of how non-adopters of IoT business will have fallen behind rivals within a few years.

Commenting on the findings, Peter Malebye, Managing Executive for Vodacom Business IoT said: “IoT is central to business success in an increasingly digitised world, with 72% of adopters saying digital transformation is impossible without it.”

The good news is that IoT enablement platforms make the technology easier to deploy for businesses of all sizes and connectivity options like NB-IoT and 5G will make implantation easier and improve services.

Malebye stated that looking to the future, new technology will continue to power the performance of IoT.

Says Joosub: “In August last year, through Vodacom Lesotho, we laid claim to being first in Africa to connect customers to a commercial 5G network.”

He says Vodacom SA is ready to follow Lesotho’s lead, but government’s continued failure to release the required spectrum is proving detrimental to the industry.

At the beginning of April 2019, the telecommunications and postal services department announced, in a statement, that the policy directive would be issued by the end of that month. However, in a later statement, the department indicated that following extensive consultations, the minister “deems it necessary to hold the Policy Direction on Unassigned High Demand Spectrum in abeyance for consideration” for the next administration.

“It has been 14 years, almost 15 years without any additional spectrum being secured,” says Joosub. “We are being left behind from participating in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

A 5G spectrum auction has been slated for 2020, but given the government’s track record, the likelihood of this deadline being met is questionable.

Adequate spectrum is an important resource for mobile operators, and Joosub said it would allow mobile networks to cut mobile data prices in half.

He says on the financial period under review: “A sharp reduction in our out-of-bundle tariffs contributed to the 37% decline in effective data prices since the end of March last year. In addition to enabling customers to manage their spend and utilise their data, virtually worry-free, this translates into a further R2-billion in savings enjoyed by customers as part of our ongoing pricing transformation strategy. Over a three-year period, data prices have fallen by 57%; despite not having access to further available spectrum.

Read more: DailyMaverick



Vodacom to acquire IoT.nxt

By Duncan McLeod 13 May 2019

Vodacom will acquire a 51% stake in South African Internet of things specialist IoT.nxt, the telecommunications group said on Monday.
The value of the deal has not been disclosed by Vodacom and is subject to approval by the Competition Commission.

“IoT.nxt creates data connectivity between new data sources and legacy systems, which allows for real-time data availability across a wide business segment,” Vodacom said.

The company has created a platform to allow companies to integrate their IT platforms seamlessly.

The  company’s technology agnostic” offering acts as a conduit between sensors and other IoT devices at the edge of the network, and the application layer in companies’ IT departments.

But integrating IoT sensors and other devices into corporate IT systems is difficult, not least because of the volume of data involved and the complexity in integrating disparate hardware and software systems. A lack of standardisation makes the challenge harder still.

“One of the biggest challenges in IoT, if you deploy thousands of sensors and are monitoring them every 200 milliseconds, is you have a huge amount of traffic that hits your network,” IoT.nxt CEO Nico Steyn said in an interview with TechCentral in 2016. “We have engineered and built a field gateway that manages the data flow effectively.”

The company has expanded internationally in recent years, and last September announced it was establishing a presence in the US, where it would work with partners on various projects. It opened an office in the Netherlands in 2017 on the back of R100-million in funding from investment holding company Talent10. — (c) 2019 NewsCentral Media


Eyes on the stars as Talent10 scripts its way forward

12 March 2019 by Ruan Jooste

If it was a script, it would be a tough sell in Hollywood: from coal mining to the silver screen. But former coal mogul Sipho Nkosi has set his sights on creating, among other things, a movie production group as part of his new venture, Talent10.

In an interview with Daily Maverick, Chairman Sipho Nkosi and CEO Wayne Fitzjohn (Chairman of IoT.nxt) discussed the new ventures for investment holding company Talent10 which is chaired by Nkosi. The company is focusing on a mixed bag of businesses; promoting the global movie business while leveraging South Africa in the process, industrial air conditioning and investing in innovative technologies as part of the Internet of Things (IoT).

Nkosi, better known for his dealings in the energy industry since stepping down as CEO of the JSE-listed coal conglomerate Exarro in 2016, acknowledges that he has now stepped a tad outside his comfort zone to realise another passion of his – to do good – for good – and for the long haul. His dream of making a significant broader societal impact is being realised by growing this local investment outfit with a diversified and integrated portfolio of companies to attract foreign investment and create jobs locally.

Established in October 2012 Talent10 is the brainchild of Nkosi, Fitzjohn and a small group of like-minded investors who crossed paths when Fitzjohn co-founded private equity and advisory initiative at wealth manager Citadel. “I was a senior partner at a prominent wealth manager at the time and was tasked with building an entrepreneurial client base. I chose to focus on helping SA’s new black industrialists that were rich on paper but in most instances because of the nature of most BBEEE transactions, realising real wealth was still some way off.

The proactive implementation of sound financial planning principles not only resulted in greater upside over time but also allowed for meaningful relationships to be formed long before opportunistic advisers came knocking,” says Fitzjohn. “It was during this time that I contacted Sipho and his fellow founders of Eyesizwe Holdings and that was the beginning of a beautiful partnership. Not long thereafter the idea was born for leveraging our collective balance sheets to invest in enterprises that could positively contribute to the country’s economy as opposed to conventional philanthropic pursuits. It was this thinking that led to Talent10’s formation.”

Fitzjohn’s aim was a collaboration to explore disruptive opportunities within South Africa, while Nkosi’s goal was to give back to the community in a significant yet sustainable way, for the long term. The greater meeting of minds came in focusing on taking two respective multipliers of ideas and establishing a business that would employ more people more of the time, thereby contributing to the economy as a whole.

“The SA film industry has experienced incredible growth in the last decade, has earned a global reputation for quality projects and incredible local talent – actors, directors and producers and exceptional technical crews,” says Fitzjohn. “It is a dynamic industry that we believe we can positively impact through our focused investment approach. We aim to make quality productions showcasing local talent that can hopefully follow in the footsteps of the many award-winning projects developed and produced in SA so far,” he says.

A study conducted by the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) showed that during the 2016/17 financial year, the film industry in SA made a R5.4-billion contribution to the GDP, compared to R3.5-billion in 2013. According to the study, the operations of the country’s film industry raised the level of production by approximately R12.2-billion. Talent10 announced the formation of a film company, Nthibah Pictures, late last year with its first feature film currently in post-production. It is a crime thriller, directed by local director Donovan Marsh, whose last project, Hunter Killer, released worldwide late last year and stars Gerard Butler and Gary Oldman.

The aim is to release the Nthibah Pictures film at the Toronto film festival in September this year. “SA has made a ton of world-class movies, but there still isn’t any local distribution partner that can guarantee US theatrical release. With the US box office still the biggest determinant in a film’s success, addressing this represents a massive opportunity for the local film industry,” says Fitzjohn. “It is no secret that content is the next big thing. People are consuming it way faster than what is being produced and the gap in the market is there for the taking. Our strategy is not just about making great films but a crystal-clear strategy to market. We want to help producers unlock the distribution value chain with a guaranteed theatrical release in the US,” he says.

“We appointed a seasoned studio executive as our CEO based in the US and we are on the cusp of unlocking significant funding for our projects,” he adds. “Further to that, if we could push for local production and global distribution it will create an avenue for South Africans to earn dollars and with rand overheads. And we make sure all the revenue is bound for SA as opposed to it ordinarily settling elsewhere. Most importantly, we don’t have any of the expensive legacy infrastructure issues faced by many production studios in the states. “The industry in the US directly employs over 2.1-million people and pays wages of $139-billion. If we displace just 1% of this, a $1.4-billion or R20 billion wage bill can come our way. The money then stays here, in our economy and Sipho, the team and I can start changing lives big-time.”

Since its formation, Talent10 has been focused on their Internet of Things investment in successful local company IoT.nxt. The company is expanding fast, winning international contracts, particularly with its patented Raptor gateway solution. Most recently it won a use contract to roll out the product in a multimillion-dollar project designed to optimise energy usage at schools in Florida and Dallas.

Talent10’s investment in IoT.nxt has exceeded R100-million which has paved the way for IoT.nxt’s expansion to Europe with an office set up in The Hague, The Netherlands in 2017 and the establishment of a US operation in Dallas in September last year. IoT.nxt has also partnered with tech giant Dell to develop a so-called IoT-in-a-box solution using IoT.nxt’s Raptor Device. “We love this industry,” says Fitzjohn. “It is a total leveller of playing fields.

IoT.nxt CEO Nico Steyn sold this idea to me while I was trying to book Mumford and Sons tickets for my daughter, and when he tested whether I had been paying attention I responded with ‘it’s like Skynet from the Terminator movie but for doing good’,” he jokes. “Two years later we were in Silicon Valley laughing about that moment over a beer, and no joke the Mumford and Sons concert recorded at the Voortrekker monument starts playing on the bar radio.”

The company has also invested in Two Oceans Air Conditioning (TOAC), at the time one of the oldest, HVAC family-held businesses in Cape Town. “We didn’t have the balance sheet to afford large tracts of land. We did, however, see a direct correlation in big heating and cooling systems to property upliftment,” says Fitzjohn.

“Despite some teething problems, a slowdown in property development and some big players going bankrupt, we have managed to build up a significant pipeline of opportunities for the future.” Amazon, for example, is planning to build three data centres in the country that will need cooling systems to function and TOAC has been successfully appointed on two of these.

Traditional sectors like mining do not form part of Talent10’s mantra. Mining houses are closing shop in SA, and the unions are resistant to change. It is at a stalemate and will not be the way to take SA forward, says Nkosi.

“We have an abundance mentality and we collaborate widely with partners that help to ensure success. We challenge set paradigms and tackle ‘holy cows’ with courage and speed, without arrogance but confident that we can make a difference. We are patient and craft best solutions avoiding short cuts that only have short-term impact,” Nkosi concludes. DM

How Secure Connectivity Is Key To Driving The Future Of Retail

1 March 2019

Transformation. It might be an overused term, but no other word appropriately describes what the retail industry is constantly undergoing.

Technology has revolutionised the way the industry operates, switching the power from retailers to customers and driving businesses to move from a place of stagnation into progress by adopting new technologies.

Local and international retail decision makers recently came together to discuss what the next wave of tech innovation and disruption would look like across the industry at the 2019 Digital Retail Forum.

One of the key focus points by speakers at the forum was the fact that retailers risked losing ground if they were not able to keep up with the rapid pace that technology was driving the industry forward.

“Customer expectations have evolved to match the ever-connected society in which we now live, and so too must businesses adapt. The most important factor in optimising the use of new technologies is to improve operations and customer relations,” says Hymie Marnewick, managing director of XLink Communications.

Here are four ways that secure connectivity is likely to propel the retail industry forward in its bid to evolve along with the technological landscape:

1. Improve customer experience

A customer’s experience is defined by their perception and interaction with a business, and better relationships with customers are important for retailers as consumer experiences are now overshadowing products in terms of value. Surprisingly though, there isn’t much understanding as to how secure connectivity is crucial to the customer experience – one of the most important differentiators and drivers for growth. Not only does it instil trust in the retailer by its customers, but also helps to build new, personalised relationships and strengthen existing ones through the collection of better records on customer trends, customised loyalty programs and supply chain integration.

2. Frictionless Payments

Advancements in secure payment connectivity have already allowed for more businesses to offer card transactions, enabling them to offer what customers want – speed, convenience and ease.

Developments in secure payment methods include the move from dial-up to the cheaper GSM payment system as well as emerging technologies such as biometric and contactless payments, with the biggest impact currently being made by mobile wallet which allows individuals to store card payment information on an app and pay using their mobile devices.

Further improvements in payment connectivity will only make the least enjoyable part of the shopping experience simpler, straightforward and effortless.

3. Seamless omnichannel

Omnichannel is a multi-channel approach to servicing customers which integrates distribution, promotion and communication channels. This means that customers are able to, for example, check the inventory of a store on their PC, order products from their tablet and speak to customer care via their mobile phone and pick the product up at the desired location.

For this to operate smoothly, each moving part needs to be integrated into a single system and they need to communicate with one another.

Therefore, the inventory a customer sees online should correspond with what is in the physical store, customer care operators should be able to see where a customer’s products are and what was ordered, and the physical store should immediately know what a customer ordered online so they can set it aside for pickup.

Connectivity solutions providers offer integrated payment solutions, which include infrastructure and services for secure data processing and failover and asset infrastructure monitoring, that make a seamless omnichannel experience possible.

4. Mitigate risks

When systems are down, businesses lose money. Customers aren’t able to make payments by card and they can’t make use of various services offered by stores, such as loyalty reward programs. Reliable secure connectivity solutions providers help to reduce the possibility of downtime, while also ensuring that all connectivity solutions implemented are compliant with information and communications technology regulations.

This all goes to show that without secure connectivity, retailers would, at the least, face challenges when trying to optimise their operations, meet customer expectations and differentiate their establishments while keeping up with the ever-changing retail and technology environment.

As such, XLink has, as a leading provider of connectivity solutions for the retail sector, expanded its service offerings to offer our customers a wide choice of connectivity solutions, suited to each unique individual need, against a dynamic technology landscape. “By leveraging our expertise in data security, information and communications technology, IoT and integrated payment solutions, XLink will continue to cater to the retail sector to ensure compliance while driving growth and innovation.”

Top brains to watch in 2019

December 2018 By Leslie Stones

Technology never stands still – which is a good job considering that our problems never stand still either.

Issues like poverty, hunger, disease, the quest for knowledge and connectivity or even our ceaseless desire to be entertained are burning challenges that the smartest brains are working to resolve.

Here are some of the people who Brainstorm believes are poised to make a difference.

Nico Steyn, CEO of IoT.nxt

Everyone talks about the Internet of Things (IoT), but Nico Steyn is such a believer that he named his company after the concept.

Steyn is the CEO of IoT.nxt, which has grown from a startup in 2015 to employ more than 100 people, with offices in The Netherlands and the US. That global expansion was made possible with R100m from its investment partner Talent10 Holdings. Steyn aims to grow IoT.nxt into an internationally relevant, but still proudly African business, creating jobs for Africans, and solutions for the world.

The company develops innovative software based on its patented Raptor gateway, which is technology-agnostic and lets companies rapidly digitise any industry, system or process to create an interconnected, interoperable ecosystem without disrupting the business. It’s been described as a world-leading framework that makes efficiencies, cost savings and increased revenue from IoT a reality, according to Nedbank, which chose IoT.nxt to participate in its Disruption Agenda matchmaking programme.

One project is seeing the Raptor gateway being rolled out in Florida and Dallas to optimise the amount of energy used by schools. Three people from IoT.nxt went to the US to manage the operation and to train local partners to take it forward.
Steyn and IoT.nxt have won several awards already, including being named by Gartner as African Aspiring Innovators to Watch, being a finalist in the Da Vinci TT100 innovation index for Emerging Enterprises, and being the overall winner of the MTN Business IoT Awards.

The company has achieved Level 1 B-BBEE status and is a Microsoft Gold Partner. It’s also become a silver partner of The Linux Foundation, a status that excited Steyn as he sees great opportunities to use open source software in IoT applications.

Michael Jordaan, Founder of Montegray Capital

During his decade as the CEO of First National Bank, Michael Jordaan was dubbed South Africa’s coolest CEO and Africa’s most innovative banker.
He’s still being cool and innovative despite ‘retiring’ in 2014, since he’s put his skills and his money to good use by forming Montegray Capital, a one-man-band venture capital company.

The modus operandi for Montegray Capital is to find highly differentiated businesses with a minimum two-year trading history, proven customer traction and the potential for rapid growth. In exchange for a meaningful minority stake, it provides those companies with growth capital of R2 million to R5 million, strategic advice and access to business networks.

Read more: https://bit.ly/2F5D9jH




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