Vancouver-based AI firm Universal mCloud Corp. has continued its aggressive acquisition strategy with its acquisitions of Fulcrum Automation Technologies Ltd. and Autopro Automation Consultants Ltd. last month.
These two most recent acquisitions brings mCloud’s total to seven acquisitions in the two years since its founding.
Barry Po, the chief product officer at mCloud, spoke with IT World Canada and said that this strategy has been very calculated and it was always the intention to leverage acquisitions to break into specific verticals and industries, as well as use it as a way to add to the range of technologies mCloud has at its disposal. mCloud specializes in remote asset management using artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), and the cloud to remotely manage energy use and other operational aspects for small commercial buildings.
“There are a couple of things that are really important when you’re a company that’s trying to make headway in well-established industries. One of those is that you need access to the reputation that certain companies can provide,” said Po. “The other aspect of it is in being able to pull together all of the disparate pieces of technology that are required to build end-to-end asset management solutions.”
These two acquisitions were made with an eye towards entering the oil and gas industry, an industry that Po said has historically proven to be difficult to break into.
“mCloud would have zero ability to enter that market on its own and the reason for that is because oil and gas is a very well established industry. There are some major players there. And everyone who works in that industry knows everyone else,” said Po. “So it’s very difficult for a company that is seen as a new entrant just to make a splash and to be able to say, ‘You can trust us. Let us work with your system and help you improve performance.’ So mCloud, by way of building these relationships with these companies that we’ve acquired, get the access to these customers because a lot of these customers in oil and gas have already worked with the companies that mCloud has acquired.”
But Po said that Fulcrum and Autopro’s existing relationships with clients in this industry and the trust they have established was a key factor in the decision to purchase these two companies.
“The rationale behind Autopro and Fulcrum is that they provide us with access to domain expertise. They have a 30-year history and 30 years of an unblemished record in the industry,” explained Po. “On top of that, in order for us to be able to build out that kind of technology, we need access to data, which they have. We need access to a captive customer base, which they also have. So all of those are ingredients that help us build AI-powered solutions that are going to be able to go and help that market with the energy problems that are there.”
With these companies in the fold, mCloud will be providing AI-powered asset management systems to companies in the oil and gas industry; something that Po said has not really existed up until this point, which has led to these companies using many different components that Po said “don’t talk to each other very nicely”.
Po said that the outcome of these purchases has already been positive. The company has already signed a deal with six facilities run by a company in the industry from Alberta. He couldn’t specify which company, but said some of mCloud’s other large clients include brands like Starbucks Corp. and Tim Hortons Inc.
This most recent acquisition totaled about CA$40 million and brings mCloud’s employee count from its original total of 40 – that was before any acquisitions were made – to the current total of 400.