Savi Technology Acquired by Private Investors

By Claire Swedberg

The new owners plan to let the company operate under its existing management team, which will continue to market its 433 MHz active tags and readers, as well as develop new solutions for commercial, governmental and military applications.

Nearly a year after defense contractor Lockheed Martin announced that its wireless asset-tracking technology company, Savi Technology, was up for sale, a band of investors affiliated with a branch of the LaSalle Capital Group located in Los Angeles, has acquired the firm. The terms of the transaction have not been disclosed. Savi, based in Alexandria, Va., will now continue to operate under its existing management, as an independent entity, according to Bill Clark, the company's president and CEO. Savi Technology provides hardware and software platforms that employ RFID, GPS, GPRS and other wireless technologies.

Speaking for himself and the other investors, Charles Meyer, LaSalle Capital 's president and founder, says, "We learned about Savi after talking to people familiar with the industry." Although Meyer and his associates have no background in RFID technology, the group researched Savi and determined that it would be a good investment. "It looked to us like this was a company that could operate most successfully as a private entity," he explains. "In that way, they could work with their customers based on their individual needs, in a more lean and nimble fashion."

Savi's Bill Clark

In November 2011, Lockheed Martin indicated that it hoped to secure a buyer for Savi Technology within a year, due to a decline in demand by the military for Savi's active RFID technology (see Lockheed Looks for a Savi Buyer).

Historically, Savi has provided its active RFID tags and readers primarily to the U.S. military and other North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) participants, though the company has sold its products to private businesses as well, such as Dow Chemical. The firm invented the 433 MHz RFID technology underlying the ISO 18000-7 standard—ratified in 2006—and launched a number of licensing programs aimed at providing hardware developers with a way to access a portfolio of Savi patents. The company led the formation of the Dash7 Alliance in 2009, which includes RFID users, as well as RFID technology companies that market products complying with the Dash7 standard (see Dash7 Alliance Seeks to Promote RFID Hardware Based on ISO 18000-7 Standard). Savi's technology is currently used to track tens of millions of assets daily, Clark reports.

Most recently, Savi Technology has developed a partnership with global inspection, testing and certification company SGS, which will now provide Savi solutions to track and monitor cargo and shipments for government agencies. In January, SGS launched its Omnis service, using Savi's Mobile Tracking System to provide a real-time visibility supply chain solution to African nations, including Kenya, Ghana and Tanzania. SGS Omnis and Savi, Clark says, expect to deploy the solution for additional governments and private interests during the coming year.

In the meantime, Meyer says, Savi's new owners will have no role in managing the company. "Savi has a well-seasoned management group," he states, which will continue to make decisions regarding how it develops its products and serves its customers. The investors will continue considering potential acquisitions to complement Savi, Meyer adds, such as additional software or RFID-based technology companies, though no such specific plans are presently in the works.

In the meantime, Savi is developing new products, including a new version of its ST 654 asset tag, which is already on the market but has yet to be publicly announced. The new tag is based on the company's system-on-a-chip—a silicon chip package that includes three different microprocessor chips to process and store data on RFID tags and readers (see Savi Unveils Developer Tools Program, System on Chip, to Spur Growth). It uses less power than other active 433 MHZ tags. Clark notes, and provides a longer read range.

In addition, Savi is focusing on software applications. The company plans to provide additional full solutions, Clark says, including tags, readers and software, as well as a hosted server, if necessary.

According to Clark, the company will continue to innovate with the private sector in mind. The military is currently buying less RFID technology than it was several years ago—due, in part, to the end of the war in Iraq and the drawdown in Afghanistan.