Sunday, August 31, 2014

Why Are Israeli Startups Leading The Tech World?

People lined both sides of Boylston Street, rounds of cheers going up as runners approached the end of the 2013 Boston marathon. Then white smoke plumed. Windows splintered. Fifteen seconds later, another explosion, and glass shattered onto blackened cement. The detonations knocked athletes to the ground, in some cases blowing the shoes off their feet. Three people died, and another 264 were injured. The FBI started investigating while first responders were still rushing to the scene. Within three days -- just 101 hours -- the bombers were apprehended. FBI agents sifted through 13,000 videos and more than 120,000 photographs, drawn from surveillance cameras and onlookers' cell phones. To sort through the piles of footage, law enforcement turned to new technology that can condense an hour of video into just a minute of playback time. 

The method, called video synopsis, was invented by an Israeli company called BriefCam, which counts all the right three-letter agencies as clients. (The FBI declined to comment on the specifics of the Boston investigation.)
Video synopsis works in a variety of ways, but most programs layer actions that occur at the same place at different times, making it possible, for example, to see simultaneously every person who walks in a door on a given afternoon. Other notable inquiries have also used BriefCam, like Norway's national security service after Anders Breivik bombed a children's camp there in 2011.

Shmuel Peleg, a co-founder of BriefCam and a professor of computer science at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, says the original intention for the tool was a long way from law enforcement. "One of my students had three kids," he said, and was hoping to come up with a better way of viewing their home videos. The eureka moment came when "one of our friends said most video on earth comes from stationary cameras," Peleg said. "He was in the military at the time," Peleg explained, and immediately thought of surveillance footage. Security cameras at Israel's borders watch for tunnel activity, but it can be hard to identify suspicious behavior in real time. "BriefCam makes it possible to integrate information that happens in a large temporal space," Peleg says, making it perfect for consistent monitoring.

But that a civilian idea was immediately put to military use is not surprising. BriefCam's origin story reveals a common trend in Israel. "The general awareness people here have for risk is always present," Peleg says, and this mentality has made its mark on the country's business climate, influencing technological developments. "Maybe Israelis learn less things [in school] but they know how to come up with ideas, how to manage to survive," Peleg said. "Every one of us is concerned with security." Military life has left an indelible mark on Israel's booming start-up scene, leading the country to the frontlines of the tech ecosystem in odd ways.

This sway manifests most obviously in the security world. After spending six years in an elite tech unit in the Israel Defense Forces, Giora Engel, another Hebrew University alumnus, co-founded a start-up called LightCyber. LightCyber detects computer glitches in corporate environments, focusing on a new wave of electronic threats, which have moved past malware to specifically targeting companies ("like the Target data breach this last November," Engel says.) While in the Defense Forces (IDF), Engel, who has bright red hair and freckles, managed high-risk projects, including coding mission-critical systems. He says Israel is leading the world in cyber-security because people leaving the Army bring "expertise that was previously only found in the defense industry." He continued, "The nation-state cyber-breaks we were accustomed to in the military have now proliferated into the [tech] industry."

Peleg echoed Engel, saying that because of Israel's mandatory army participation, "my students are often called away from their research for reserve service." He said, "You can't think creatively while in service. You only care about survival." But upon his students' return, "new ideas come," enriching research programs.

In addition to fresh thinking, working in an environment where there are often immediate applications of new developments has driven quick innovation. Mantis Vision, a company that uses 3D imaging for a variety of mapping applications, had the Israeli government as an early client for a confidential project. "What I can tell you is this wasn't a product developed for a lab, but a real product that was used," said co-founder Amihai Loven.

Israel is an environment where "there's zero tolerance for work-arounds," Loven said. Part of what's pushing the country's tech boom, he said, is that "there's a lot of pressure to develop something something that actually works, and not just in lab environments." This provides a primal urgency that headquarters in Silicon Valley strewn with kegs and Ping-Pong tables can lack.

"Look at the recent conflict," Loven said, referring to July's deadly flare-up between Hamas and Israel. "The Iron Dome performance is like nothing you can develop in an R&D environment without a threat." The anti-missile system is designed to blow up incoming missiles before they land, and has been deployed frequently in the last month. Despite concerns the Iron Dome is actually less effective than the IDF claims, and setting aside much debate about the imbalance of force between the two sides of the conflict, the Iron Dome is far more sophisticated than alternative anti-rocket systems.

In the long run, the perceived pressure to make things that actually work can be a good thing for the market. "Products need to start high-end from the beginning in order to mature into consumer products," Loven said, citing GPS's beginnings as a defense tool. "If it's just starting as a gadget, there's a glass ceiling" on its utility, he explained.
So perhaps it makes sense there's an unusual amount of governmental support for new ideas. Giora Engel of LightCyber says government organizations are often slow adopters, taking their time in using new technology. But Israel was one of the first countries to develop a cyber-security division, all the way back in 1997. Since then, the country's quietly dominated all sorts of cyber projects -- not least Stuxnet, the notorious computer worm designed in a joint project between U.S. and Israeli forces that took out a fifth of Iran's nuclear centrifuges in 2010.

More recently, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu upped the ante, in 2011 creating the National Cyber Bureau (NCB), which reports directly to Netanyahu's office and increased the country's cyber-defense budgets by 30 percent. He made no bones about its purpose, saying, "We established the National Cyber Bureau for the purpose of transforming the state of Israel into a cyber superpower." NCB trickle-down extends to the startup world: "There's a lot of support for new technology from the government," Engel said, "because they realize that startups can bring them the most cutting edge technology and are valuable to the economy." Statistics suggest the strategy is working: 14.5 percent of all firms worldwide garnering cyber investment are owned by Israelis.

Of course, there are disadvantages of running a business in a region plagued by violence and dominated by the military. Engel said that in July, while business has continued, more or less as usual, in the startup scene, "Some people have been called to their reserve duty in their military units. And it's hard to have conference calls when any moment you may have to run to a bomb shelter."

"In this crazy country, you're always under pressure," Loven said. "If it's not defense, it's to win in the market."

Chinese Financial Investor Invested in Israeli Startup Saguna Networks

Israeli start-up company Saguna Networks announced today a significant round of investment. Saguna has developed systems which significantly improve the transfer of rich content (video, music and games) over mobile networks, making it more efficient and less expensive to do so. Saguna's innovative systems enable mobile operators to provide rich content to a wide audience, using a profitable business model.

Saguna successfully raised $2 million in the current round, which was let by a US based global communications provider and a Chinese financial investor. Existing shareholders also participated in the round. 


מסע הרכישות של הסינים בישראל לא יסתיים בתנובה

מאמר מרתק שנכתב על ידי בני אברהם, מנכ"ל קבוצת אופקים ושפורסם בסוף השבוע בעיתון גלובס

תופעה של חברות סיניות שרוכשות חברות מערביות וחברות בעולם המתפתח בשביל לשים יד על חומרי גלם הנתפסים כחשובים עבור הכלכלה הסינית מתקיימת כבר למעלה מעשור. עד כה התרגלנו לראות את סין רוכשת (בהיקף של מעל 200 מיליארד דולר בעשור האחרון) חברות העוסקות בעיקר באנרגיה ובמתכות. במסגרת זו, ענקית האנרגיה הסינית petro china רכשה במהלך העשור זכויות לתגליות נפט וגז בשווי של יותר מ-40 מיליארד דולר.

בשלוש השנים האחרונות מיקוד הרכש הסיני עובר שינוי: מאנרגיה וחומרי גלם לתעשייה לכיוון מזון. כיום, סין, המדינה בעלת האוכלוסייה הגדולה בעולם, היא יבואנית של מזון. בעוד ש-21% מסך אוכלוסיית העולם הם סינים, המדינה מחזיקה רק כ-9% מהיקף האדמות החקלאיות המעובדות.

אנליסטים מעריכים כי בעשור הקרוב הסינים יצרכו כמחצית מהיקף המזון הבסיסי שמיוצר בעולם הכולל דגנים, בשר ודגים. כפועל יוצא, הבטחה של אספקה סדירה של מזון לסין, ושיפור טכנולוגיות הייצור המקומיות בסין, עומדות בלב מסע הרכישות החדש. השנה בלבד רכשו חברות סיניות חברות מזון בסיסי בהיקף של כ-13.7 מיליארד דולר. זאת, כחלק ממסע רכש של כ-33 מיליארד דולר בשלוש השנים האחרונות.

עסקה בולטת בתחום, שבוצעה בשנת שעברה, הייתה רכישת חברת הבשר האמריקאית Smithfield עבור כ-7 מיליארד דולר במזומן. חברת ברייטפוד הסינית, שרכשה לאחרונה את השליטה בתנובה הישראלית, רכשה את חברת דגני הבוקר הבריטית Weetabix עבור מעל מיליארד דולר במזומן בשנת 2012.
מסע הרכישות הסיני צפוי להימשך בעולם, ואולי אף בישראל עצמה. מועמדות טבעיות לרכישה הן חברות יצור מזון, בעלות היקפי פעילות גבוהים ורכיב ייחודי של טכנולוגיה. אבל צריך לזכור כמה דברים. שוק המזון בישראל הוא ענף ריכוזי המוחזק בידי חמש חברות גדולות ודומיננטיות (ביניהן תנובה).

קשה לראות את הסינים רוכשים את אסם מידיה של נסטלה מה עוד שרק לאחרונה רכשה נסטלה את החזקותיו של גד פרופר וההערכה היא כי בשלב מסוים אסם תימחק מהמסחר. לא בטוח גם שמשפחת שטראוס תמהר לוותר על החברה המשפחתית הצומחת משמעותית בחו"ל. ייתכן אולי שהסינים ירכשו נתחים מפעילות החברות הללו, תוך שהם מעשירים את הידע הטכנולוגי שלהם.

אז מה בכל זאת עוד יהיה לסינים לחפש פה? מועמדת אפשרית לרכישה יכולה להיות אבוג'ן, שעוסקת בביוטכנולוגיה חקלאית על ידי השבחת זרעים לחקלאות. כבר כיום החברה מקיימת שיתוף פעולה מול סין בהשבחת זרעי אורז. אי אפשר שלא להזכיר גם שהרכישה הסינית של חברת מכתשים-אגן (כיום "אדמה") השתלבה באסטרטגיה זו. כך שייתכן שנראה רכישה סינית נוספת של חברת מזון או חברת טכנולוגיה חקלאית ישראלית בשנים הקרובות.
נראה שהאסטרטגיה הסינית לרכישות היא לא פיננסית גרידא. הם מחפשים חברות שעצם הימצאותן בתיק ההחזקות מספק לו ערך מוסף וייחודי. שיקולים אלה, כך נראה, עמדו במרכז עסקת תנובה. פוטנציאל הצמיחה של תנובה בשוק הישראלי קרוב למיצוי, כך שסביר לא הוא זה שעמד במרכז השיקולים לרכישתה.

ניתן גם לשער כי ברייטפוד הייתה יכולה לשים את ידה על הטכנולוגיה של תנובה דרך רכישות ממוקדות בתחום זה, מבלי לרכוש את החברה כולה. על כן, מעבר לנושא של רכישת טכנולוגיה, ההשקעה בתנובה כוללת גם מרכיב של ניהול סיכונים אסטרטגי.

ניתוח של מאמצי הרכישה של סין בשוק המזון והשתייה בשלוש השנים האחרונות מראה כי עד רכישת תנובה מתוך היקפי מיזוגים ורכישות של כ-32 מיליארד דולר, פחות מ-0.1% הופנו לאזור המזרח התיכון ואפריקה. רכישה של חברות נוספות באזור זה תעזור לאזן את תיק הרכש הסיני, המוטה באופן חריג להחזקות בארה"ב, מערב אירופה ואוסטרליה.

פורסם בגלובס

עסקים עם סינים / צילום: shutterstock

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Why China Will Lead Innovation in Social and Mobile Commerce

A very interesting article from Forbes by Helen H. Wang, am award winning author and expert on China. 

Social commerce is a novel term in the US, and many people are not familiar with it. Some think it refers to those annoying ads on Facebook. According to Wikipedia, social commerce is the use of social networks in the context of e-commerce transactions.

In China, social commerce has taken up a life of its own and become the backbone of e-commerce.

While the “Ice Bucket Challenge” has gone viral on Facebook, Chinese consumers use social media in a much more thoughtful way. Instead of posting some silly videos and pictures, they turn to social media to solve real life problems, to seek advice from friends and opinion leaders, and to decide what products to buy or not to buy.

For example, Tmall, China’s Amazon owned by Alibaba, integrated social media as a consumer-powered review and recommendation system. Consumers can rate the accuracy of product descriptions, the speed of delivery, and their satisfaction with customer service. Anyone who is interested in buying a product can see its scores. Tmall promotes products with higher scores by giving them more exposure. This has created a virtuous cycle that encourages better products and services, and consumers are at the center of it.

According to Vincent Digonnet, executive chairman of Razorfish, a digital consultancy, China is already ten years ahead of Western countries in social commerce. In an interview with Thoughtful China, Mr. Digonnet gave three main reasons that China is ahead.

First, active social media users largely overlap with consumers that have spending power. In the West, most active Facebook users are recent college graduates with little income to spend. People who have money are those in their 50s or older and they hardly use social media. In China, those born after 1980 have better educations and better jobs, and earn higher incomes than those who are older. These post-80ers are active on social media, and in the meantime, they are the mainstream of Chinese consumers.

Second, Chinese are avid content creators on social media. Digonnet reckoned that in the West, out of 100 people, one person creates genuine content, 9 people retweet, comment, and curate the content, and 90 people are just spectators. In China, 30 people are genuine content creators, 50 people are curators, and only 20 people are passive spectators. About 70 percent of online users in China post online ratings and reviews on a monthly basis. In comparison, less than 20 percent do so in the US.

Third, people in the West use social media to keep up with their friends. They post their children’s photos and idle musings. In China, social media consumers are their parents’ only child. They have grown up isolated and now want to have real conversations with their peers. When it comes to consumption, they share their views on which products to buy, where to buy, whether the products are working, and how to use them. Social media has become a practical and useful tool rather than a virtual place to hang out with their friends.

We are seeing many exciting innovations in China’s social commerce sphere. Already, WeChat, a mobile message board with over half a billion users, has gone far beyond a social media tool. Users on WeChat can order a taxi or book a hotel – right there while they are chatting with friends. It has digital ID (using QR codes), interphone, and a shake function to link contacts. There is nothing like it in the West. Early this year, more than 5 million people linked their bank accounts on WeChat within two days. It has the potential to become a mobile and social commerce platform with integrated e-wallet and location based services, and much more.

Moving forward, China will also lead innovation in mobile commerce. The country already boasts 700 million active smart phone users. The way people shop in China is very different from that in the West. In the West, e-commerce is very much computer-based, while mobile phones are merely a complementary tool to the personal computer. In China, mobile phones predominate people’s everyday lives. About 75 percent of Internet users browse it from their mobile phones. In 2013, 55 percent of consumers in China had used mobile payments, compared to only 19 percent in the US.

Chinese are far savvier with mobile phones than with computers. Ten years ago, Chinese used text messages to vote for their popular singers. Today, Americans have just begun to adopt this method of communication. Businesses have started to use text messages to get feedback from customers. Politicians have begun to tap into the ubiquity of mobile phones to advocate their political agendas.

In the past, many innovations originated in the West and spread to the rest of the world. But this is about to change. We expect to see more innovations in social and mobile commerce coming from China. And they will reshape the global business landscape.

Helen Wang's VERY interesting book (Click to go to Amazon).
From Amazon: 2nd Edition: July 6, 2012 - In The Chinese Dream, a groundbreaking book about the rising middle class in China, the award-winning author Helen H. Wang challenges us to recognize that some of our fears about China are grossly misplaced. As a result of China's new capitalist paradigm, a burgeoning middle class-calculated to reach 800 million within the next fifteen years-is jumping aboard the consumerism train and riding it for all it's worth-a reality that may provide the answer to America's economic woes. And with China's increasing urbanization and top-down governmental approach, it now faces increasing energy, environmental, and health problems-problems that the U.S. can help solve. Through timely interviews, personal stories, and a historical perspective, China-born Wang takes us into the world of the Chinese entrepreneurial middle class to show how a growing global mindset and the realization of unity in diversity may ultimately provide the way to creating a saner, safer world for all. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Steve Jobs's Inspiring Speech in Stanford class of 2005.

Steve Jobs's commencement address to Stanford University graduating class of 2005. This is one of the most inspiring speeches.

Part 1: 

Part 2:

Israeli Patents Up 20% In 2013, Mostly In Pharmaceutical Field

The number of patents registered by Israeli research institutions rose by an impressive 20% in 2012-2013 compared to the previous two years, the Science, Technology and Space Ministry disclosed on Tuesday. The field with the most innovations was prescription drugs. A survey by the ministry’s National Council for Research and Development found that 1,438 patents were registered – 1,000 of them completely new (not registered before in other countries).

The innovations led to the founding of 72 start-up companies here in the past two years. The patents were registered by university research and development companies, hospitals and state-owned research institutes. The university R&D companies specialized mostly in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, physics, electronics, electrophysics, chemistry and nanotechnology. In the hospitals, the innovations were mainly in medical technology, while in the government research institutes they were in agriculture and plant genetics.

In 2012 and 2013, 967 applications for new patents were made.

Although the national council welcomed the increase in registered patents, “there still is a major gap between the many academic achievements in Israeli research institutes and the economic and application potential of know-how, Science, Technology and Space Minister Yaakov Peri said. “We are working with a lot of energy to reduce the gaps and increase government investment in applied research.”

While intellectual property in medications is prominent when measured by revenue, national council chairman Prof. Yitzhak Ben-Yisrael said, it must be remembered that the high income from them is from a small number of successful drugs such as Copaxone (for multiple sclerosis) and Exelon for Alzheimer’s disease. “If we don’t increase our investments to bring about more developments in additional critical fields, industry will suffer harm in the near future and merely stand in place,” he added.

Income from Israeli intellectual property in 2012- 2013 totaled NIS 1,881 million.

Israeli-invented drugs provided 97 percent of this income, compared to 3 percent from innovations in physics, electronics, mathematics and electrooptics. 


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

China Everbright's Catalyst CEL Fund to Invest $42m in Israeli Technology Company Lamina Technologies

The Catalyst CEL Fund agreed to invest $42 million in Lamina Technologies, a Swiss-based maker of metal-cutting tools. Ten million dollars of Catalyst CEL’s $42 million investment will go toward funding global expansion of Lamina, and up to $32 million will be distributed to Lamina’s existing shareholders. The investment will give Catalyst CEL a controlling stake in Lamina, in partnership with the current management team led by Peleg and Yuval Amir, who co-founded the company in 2001. The Amir brothers will remain in their leadership position, and together they will be the second largest group of shareholders in Lamina.

Edouard Cukierman and Alain Dobkin, Managing Partners of Catalyst CEL, stated, “Under Peleg and Yuval Amir’s leadership, Lamina developed into a leading global designer, manufacturer and marketer of leading-edge precision carbide cutting tools with a strong presence and significant penetration of key global regions including Europe, APAC, Latam and N. America. We see significant opportunities for expansion into the China market.” Shengyan Fan, Managing Partner of Catalyst CEL noted: “Lamina is well positioned for China’s macro developments and the ongoing domestic technological upgrade as China is a key market with significant room for growth.”

The Catalyst CEL Fund, jointly managed by Catalyst Equity Management Ltd. (Catalyst) and China Everbright Limited, primarily targets mid-to-late stage companies with proven innovation and global presence, whose growth strategy is oriented towards, or includes expansion of activities into emerging markets with a special focus on the Greater China market or companies who produce products or provide business solutions that have a significant commercial potential in the above mentioned markets. Focus sectors for the Fund include agriculture, industrial, manufacturing, healthcare, water, energy, technology, media and telecommunication. The Fund has secured more than US$100 million at the first closing in March 2014.


Israel's Iron Dome Intercepts 15 rockets at once

In case you missed my post on Israeli technology on Iron Dome you can read it here: Israel's Iron Dome Can Be Found in Tech Startups.

In light of the ceasefire that was announce last night look at this amazing footage: 15 rockets are being intercepted at the same time by Iron Dome in the south of Israel.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Israeli Startup Feedvisor Raises $6M Series A For Its Repricing Platform

TechCrunch: Tel Aviv-based Feedvisor, an algorithmic pricing and business intelligence platform for online retailers, today announced that it has raised a $6 million Series A round led by Australia’s Square Peg Capital. Today’s announcement comes just under a year after the company announced its $1.7 million seed round, which included funding from JAL Ventures, Oryzn Capital and Micro Angel Fund, all of which also participated in this new round.

In its current form, Feedvisor focuses on retailers who use Amazon’s eCommerce platform. It helps these retailers keep their prices competitive by using self-learning algorithms that can automatically look at their competitors’ prices, product demand and price elasticity to figure out the best price according to a retailer’s business objectives.

If that sounds a little bit like our former Disrupt Battlefield finalist Boomerang Commerce, that’s no coincidence because the two offer a very similar range of services, but Boomerang focuses squarely on large retailers with an online presence while Feedvisor is only going after retailers on Amazon for now.

According to Shmuli Goldberg, Feedvisor’s Director of Marketing, the company currently focuses on Amazon because it is the largest online marketplace. “It’s where we grew up and matured as a product and company, but our technology itself is not tied to one platform, and can be adapted to any number of applications, both in the marketplaces and the more traditional eCommerce and retail spaces,” he said. “We’re watching the market very closely, and are working even closer with our clients. As online marketplaces and eCommerce as a whole matures, we’ll always be open to creating opportunities for ourselves on other platforms”.

In total, the Feedvisor team says, its platform now manages over $1 billion in inventory for the service’s users. As for the new funding, Goldberg said that the company will mostly use it for research and development to strengthen its current offering and to expand its business intelligence service. “Our primary goal here is to provide online businesses owners with all the information they need to successfully grow their business, and all in one place,” he said.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Amris Acquires Israeli Social Recruitment Platform Zao

UK based company The Internet Corporation Limited, owner of Amris, announced the acquisition of Israeli company Zao, to complement and enhance its award winning Amris eRecruitment platform. The transaction combines the complementary strengths and benefits of both solutions, to create a unique and even wider range of eRecruitment services. Employee referrals result in the best quality hires, especially as scarcity of talent is growing in line with the economic recovery. Zao’s employee social referral platform is designed to boost referral hires, and will be available as a fully integrated optional module for all Amris users, and equally available as an independent solution that can integrate with any applicant tracking system on the market.

“This is a revolutionary opportunity that will redefine the way organizations hire, creating a comprehensive joint solution transforming direct sourcing and engagement with the power of social media,” said Mark Kieve, CEO at The Internet Corporation. “The combination of Zao and Amris will allow companies to use social networks not only for job advertising, but for employee referrals and enhanced engagement in an automated and extremely efficient manner. Zao is a great fit with Amris, and combined provides a formidable tool for effective hiring and candidate engagement in every respect, we are delighted to again broaden our wide range of online recruitment services. We look forward to welcoming Zao and all their customers to the Amris eRecruitment Family.”

Zao was established in 2011 by Ziv Eliraz and raised to-date about $1.3m. Zao's has a high quality worldwide customer base, including Nespresso, Fiverr, and Marvell. Zao makes referrals and social media hiring easy, automated and fun. In a world where our contacts are mapped out on social networks, it doesn’t make sense to sift through them manually. Zao makes it easy to recommend friends by automatically matching your job descriptions to the capabilities of your Facebook and LinkedIn contacts. Zao increases employee engagement in referrals, by making participation fun using gamification, which rewards employees for good effort and not just referral hires. Zao’s automation takes the work out of repetitive tasks, and allows job sharing on social networks at any frequency. 

Zao also lets you include your trusted business network in referrals. Zao is dedicated to helping you make referrals and social media your most powerful source of hire.
Amris was one of the first truly social ATS solutions, offering full integration with key social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter since the early days of social media. 

Amris eRecruitment, designed by recruitment experts, removes much of the administrative hassle from the recruitment process. Amris allows you to streamline every aspect of the recruitment process – from job posting and candidate management to skill matching and the maintenance of your own candidate talent bank. Above all Amris is easy to use and just works. Full and seamless integration with psychometric testing, video interviewing and reference checking is all available. 

Amris has a big international footprint of which it is rightly proud and works with leading companies across all business sectors including Serco Group plc, English Heritage, JD Wetherspoon, Jury’s Inn, Norbert Dentressangle, Telefonica, Ricoh, Three mobile, Musgrave, Phones4U and many others. Amris systems range from simple ‘off the shelf’ systems for campaigns, store openings and graduate recruitment through to sophisticated enterprise systems provided globally in many languages.

Mapped In Israel - Zoom into the Start Up Nation

Check out this amazing app: Map of Israel with all the start-ups, incubators and consultants.


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Chinese OS expected to debut in October

BEIJING, Aug. 24 (Xinhua) -- After concerns about U.S. surveillance and a monopoly probe of Microsoft, there is some good news for China's homegrown operating system (OS): a desktop version may be ready in October.

Ni Guangnan of the Chinese Academy of Engineering told the People's Post and Telecommunications News that the OS will be first seen on desktop devices and later expanded to smartphones and other mobile devices.

Ni heads an OS development alliance established in March. There are still problems in the program, including a lack of research funds and too many developers pulling in different directions.

"China has more than a dozen mobile OS developers with no independent intellectual property rights because their research is based on Android," said Ni, adding future development should be led by the government.

According to the report, Ni said the end of Windows XP and the government ban on the procurement of Windows 8 have opened the door to domestic OS developers.

"Our key to success lies in an environment that can help us compete with Google, Apple and Microsoft," said Ni.

Israeli startup Superfish Ranked #4 on Inc. 500 List of America’s Fastest Growing Private Companies

Superfish, a pioneer in visual search technology, announced it is ranked #4 in Inc. Magazine’s 2014 list of the 500 fastest-growing private companies in the United States. Superfish is the #1 software company on the Inc. 500 list.

Visual search is poised to change our daily lives, from the way we explore and discover the world around us, to the way we communicate, shop and make decisions

Visual search is poised to change our daily lives, from the way we explore and discover the world around us, to the way we communicate, shop and make decisions,” said Adi Pinhas, CEO and founder of Superfish. “The fact that we’re the fastest-growing software company in the Inc. 500 reflects the tremendous market traction we’re already seeing, and we’ve just scratched the surface of what is possible with visual search.”

More than 80 million people worldwide use Superfish’s technology. Earlier this year, Superfish launched its first mobile app – PetMatch – to help people find adoptable pets in their area. The company will be rolling out additional mobile apps in the months ahead.

Superfish's team of PhD's has been developing and refining its patented technology since 2006, enabling people to unlock the intrinsic value of trillions of images on the Internet. Each day 1.5 billion photos are added to the Internet — more than half a trillion new photos each year.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Moonscape Ventures to invest $120m in Israeli startups

Businessman Mati Kochavi, who owns technology companies AGT International and Logic Industries, has set up Moonscape Ventures to invest $120 million in Israeli start-ups. AGT operates in Internet of Things and Logic provides electronic sensors in the security sector.

Moonscape Ventures will make early stage investments in a wide variety of sectors related to the Internet of Things, including smart cities, big data and news and media technologies. First round investments will range from $500,000-$5 million.

Moonscape Ventures will be managed by Tammy Mahn, a leading investment professional with years of experience at Pitango Venture Capital and Evergreen Venture Partners, and Yonit Golub Serkin, who served as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Economic Development for the City of New York during Michael Bloomberg’s Administration. There she worked to develop and implement policies to attract entrepreneurs, build the city’s angel fund and grow Silicon Alley.

Kochavi said, “Companies in the Moonscape portfolio will benefit from our deep experience, global network and partnership opportunities. By leveraging our unique access and experience, startups will be well poised to transform their innovative ideas into disruptive technologies.”

Mahn said, “Moonscape Ventures will work with our portfolio companies to build the best team possible and leverage sector experts and international access to accelerate growth. Our company is founded on a long history of innovation and success and we’re pleased to offer that legacy to startups.”

Moonscape Ventures also announced its first investment of $3.1 million in start-up Social Studios whose technology uses social media data and automatically creates and curates personalized video content.

Vocativ will be the first company to use SocialStudios’ technology to build a personalized video platform enabling its users to view content highly tailored to their interests and those of their close circles. Now in beta, SocialStudios will be incorporated in the Vocativ offering this fall.

Social Studios CEO Moshi Gelgo said, “Social Studios creates highly personalized video content and we’re excited to partner with Vocativ to bring our technology to millions of people throughout the world. We’re proud to join Moonscape’s portfolio as its first investment. The team is dedicated, knowledgeable and through them, we’ve had access to exciting opportunities that position us to grow quickly.”

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news –

10 People and product you didn't know that came from Israel

Nice weekend Treat!

Enjoy and have a great weekend.


Friday, August 22, 2014

Li Ka-Shing invests $6.5m in Israeli start-up FeeX

FeeX, a service that helps users find and avoid hidden fees in their retirement accounts, announced yesterday that it has raised $6.5 million in Series B funding. The round was led by Horizons Ventures, with participation by returning investor Blumberg Capital. This brings FeeX’s total funding so far to $9.6 million.

Founded in August 2012 by Yoav Zurel, David Weisz, and Uri Levine (the founder of navigation app Waze, which was acquired by Google for $966 million last year), FeeX uses algorithms to identify and reduce hidden advisory, investment, and expense ratio fees in investment and retirement accounts, including IRA, 401(k), 403(b), 457, and brokerage accounts. 

In March 2014, FeeX launched in the U.S. to help Americans assess and minimize the amount of money spent on financial fees each year — estimated at $600 billion. Currently, FeeX has more than 60,000 users, has surpassed $1 billion in assets under protection and has identified more than $277 million in potential savings for its customers. 

According to FeeX, a third or more of the funds in a retirement savings plan and that the average American household ends up paying $155,000 in hidden 401(k) fees over the lifetime of the account.

“FeeX has developed an objective solution that is disrupting the asymmetry of information that prevents ordinary consumers from easily understanding the true costs of their investments,” said Jason Wong, Director at Horizons Ventures. “Their vision is even bolder — to democratize and demystify all financial information, shining light on all fees inhibiting us from attaining the best financial futures possible.”

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Israel is ranked #2 in investors confidence globally

53 Israeli startups to participate in this year Hong Kong startup contest

Invest Hong Kong, a government organization that promotes investment and entrepreneurship in Hong Kong, announced that 550 startup companies enter the 2014 StartmeupHK Venture Programme. The 550 entries come from 47 countries. 178 Hong Kong companies applied together with 65 from the US, 53 from Israel, 46 from India and 30 from the UK. Majority of the companies are still in the concept or prototype stage, but a third are companies already earning revenue or with active users.

Mr. Simon Galpin, InvestHK’s Director-General told Forbs that “I am happy to see the increasing popularity of our competition as evidenced by the almost 40 per cent increase in the number of entries submitted.” He added “I am also very pleased to see that the competition has reached more entrepreneur-led businesses in more overseas economies. Hong Kong offers an ideal foothold and a great opportunity for them to scale up and ‘go global’. I’m glad to see that our message about Hong Kong’s rapidly developing start-up ecosystem is spreading, which is one of the purposes of our StartmeupHK brand initiative and competition.”

Preliminary judging will narrow the list to 12 finalists that will be flown to Hong Kong and participate in the StartmeupHK Week in November and a panel of judges will select three Award Winners that will receive total cash prizes of $500,000.

InvestHK announces 2013 StartmeupHK Venture Programme Grand Award winners
2013 startmeupHK finalist

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Israeli Technology to secure ATMs in China

Risco, an Israel-based security technology company, has entered into
agreements with Chinese banks to equip their ATMs with sensors to monitor the
physical state of the machine, according to a report by
The Times of Israel.

The article said that Risco has not disclosed the names of the banks nor
the exact number of ATMs to have sensors installed, though they did say the
latter would be in the "tens of thousands." 
Simple sensors will alert if the machine is tipped, shaken, or struck.
More sophisticated seismic sensors will monitor for tampering efforts that use
drills, sledgehammers, heat and explosives, and other behaviors inconsistent
with the ATM's normal range of transactions. 

Risco is considered one of Israel’s premier security
firms. Recently the company’s technology was one of a handful chosen to
provide security service for the World Cup games in Brazil. Officials at the
new $300 million Arena Pantanal in Cuiabal used RISCO’s Command and Control
solution to secure the hundreds of doors and turnstiles in the arena, providing
protection from unauthorized entry and counterfeit tickets.

Check out an interesting video:

Monday, August 18, 2014

Israeli Cyber-Security Startup GuardiCore Raises $11 Million

Cyber-security start-up GuardiCore Ltd. has raised $11 million in a series-A round. The Tel-Aviv based company develops cyber security solutions for data centers. 

The company’s product reroutes malicious traffic into a monitored server, where it provides insights into the nature of the attack.
The technology is currently being tested with potential customers. 

The investment round was led by Battery Ventures, with participation from Greylock IL , an affiliate fund of Greylock Partners, and undisclosed strategic partners. As part of the investment Battery’s Scott Tobin will be joining GuardiCore’s board. GuardiCore was founded in 2013 by Pavel Gurvich and Ariel Zeitlin, both veterans of Israel Defense Forces technology units.

Data centers are home to critical corporate data and business processes, making them a lucrative target for cyber-attacks. Traditional perimeter security is not designed to deal with today’s threats where attacker sophistication and the risk of insider attacks are growing and modern data center architectures increasingly include applications that cross security perimeters. At the same time, recent architectural changes in data centers have led to an explosion of intra-data center (“east-west”) traffic at terabit levels. State-of-the art security techniques such as IDS, IPS, sandboxing, deep packet inspection, and threat emulation cannot scale to these data traffic rates, and are therefore largely considered to be impossible to apply inside data centers. Once inside a data center, intruders are very difficult to detect and mitigate.

The GuardiCore platform helps solve this intra-data center security problem by making state-of-the-art security techniques scalable to keep pace with east-west data traffic. The company’s first platform component, called “Active Honeypot,” responds to attacks by dynamically re-routing traffic, without the attacker knowing, to a highly monitored stealth “ambush” server. This approach exposes the true intentions of an attacker, provides quick insights about the nature of the attack and eliminates it in real-time.

Wibbitz Unveils Wibbitz 3.0

Wibbitz, an Israeli start up that develops a unique text-to-video technologies, announced Wibbitz 3.0 for iOS with new never before seen features. The fully redesigned app introduces responsive design to news summaries selecting different content for different platforms. The new version also features real voice-over narration for top news stories, as well as the option of a short text summary.
The fully redesigned app also includes enhanced features and functionality. With Wibbitz 3.0 users can now listen to top news articles with real voice-over narration. In addition, for users who prefer a textual summary over watching a video, the new app now offers that option as well.
Additional new features in Wibbitz 3.0 include: 
- Video & Text Summaries: Now you can choose to watch a video or read a text summary
- Real Voice-Over Narration: Top news stories feature authentic narration 
- Reimagined Design: New sleek look, redesigned with card-like articles 
- Intuitive UX & Navigation: Easy to use and operate
- Effortless Gestures: Swiping right/left to flip between articles

You can download the app here: Link

Here is a link with a video news wire about the death of Robin Williams: Link 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

We are Hiring!

Life science analyst for an Investment Management Company

A dynamic, interesting, diverse and challenging position.
Intensive research of R&D pharma companies.
Analyzing R&D pipeline, market potential and competition.
Preparation of analysis reports for investment managers.
Active search for investment objectives.

PhD In Life Science – emphasis on Pharma.
Experience and knowledge of pharmaceutical R&D – A must.
Knowledge of the regulatory process in the US.
Business oriented.
Analytical skills.
Multitasking, dynamic and creative.
Excellent writing skills
Fluent English – all work done in English
Please send your CV to:

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Pursway: People Buy What Their Friends Buy

An interesting article about Pursway was published on Pursway Article.

Pursway's technology funds your friends and sends their names and addresses to a client company as marketing prospects. The company has database of more than 100 million buyers and about 10% of the buyers are people that otehr people (such as family members) will us before they make an aquisition. The company can tell their customers (Sony, Comcast, Orange etc) who are the friends of their customers and then they can approach them.

Or as the company say on their web page:

People Buy What Their Friends Buy

Check out their video:

This video is also interesting:

Pursway webpage:

Yahoo bought Israeli Ad startup ClarityRay

Israel-based ad startup ClarityRay has been acquired by Yahoo. ClarityRay’s focus has moved away from ad blocking to ad security and fraud detection. The details of the deal not published yet but we estimate that acquisition price was about $15 million. 

According to A Yahoo spokesperson on "ClarityRay is a company with deep expertise in ad-malware detection and prevention. The bottom line for Yahoo is that search is going to get better and safer for users, and advertising will become more reliable and profitable for partners". 

ClarityRay announce today:

Our vision has always been making the eco-system safe, compliant and sustainable for consumers, publishers and advertisers. We helped the online advertising industry take a big step towards that direction by identifying, measuring, and solving many of its unseen hurdles inhibiting that. We brought traffic clarity to an amazing roster of clients, with our findings becoming an industry standard.
Joining Yahoo now will allow us to make use of that momentum and take the next steps (or rather, leaps) towards that vision, and we couldn't be more excited. This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity enables the mass scaling of our technology, impact and ideas to the absolute forefront of our field, while working with an amazing team who shares our passion. We're proud to call Yahoo 'home'.
We would like to thank our customers, employees, partners and investors. You've made this voyage fulfilling, challenging, successful and fun.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Israeli Entrepreneur Raised $2m With a 5 Page Presentation About Nothing

Forbes Magazine published that Itay Adam, an Israeli entrepreneur raised a seed round from a South American private equity fund after a 40 minutes presentation.

Adam wrote on his web-page:

“It was a 40 minutes presentation with 5 slides, 2 cups of coffee, 18 jokes, snickers, jeans, a Threadless t-shirt and no product. It was all about philosophy, experience, age, and passion. In fact, it was a stand-up comedy act of 40 minutes. I bitched, trashed, yelled, cursed, and pitched this private equity with the best show I had within me. A few days later, we signed the deal and now I am at the liberty to announce that I closed a $2M round with no product, just a smart concept. And a rather simple one. A real one. Here it is: “No one knows what the next big thing is going to be. We are all just speculating. My goal is to build a group of people to find it. A group of  5-6 people, all veterans with a proven record, all at the age +35.”


If you are curious how to do that here is the presentation Itay showed his investors:

It's a Slideshow About Nothing from BetaPopcorn

Here is a link to Itay's webpage: Itay Adam

Israel CPI in July - Up 0.1%

CPI for the last 13 months is only 0.3%. 

Israeli Marketplace For Small Tasks Raised $30 Million

Fiverr announced yesterday the successful closing of a $30 million round C financial round. The company, headquartered in Tel Aviv, is an online marketplace that allows search for freelance professionals to complete specific tasks or services.

The new funding will be used for marketing and product development. Fiverr has raised to date about $50 million.

The leading investor in the round is Qumra Capital, a new Israeli VC that recently raised $60 million for their first fund. Qumra was established by ex Evergreen VC Boaz Dinte and Erez Shachar. Bessemer Venture Partners and Accel Partners also participated in the round.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Bloomberg: Israel's Iron Dome Can Be Found in Tech Startups

Bloomberg: Israel's Iron Dome Can Be Found in Tech Startups

The Israeli-engineered Iron Dome is a complex tapestry of machinery, software and computer algorithms capable of intercepting and destroying rockets midair. An offshoot of the missile-defense technology can also be used to sell you furniture.
The online-shopping software developed by Cimagine, an Israeli startup located about 12 miles from the West Bank, allows people to walk around their homes with a mobile device, and see how a sofa or coffee table would look in each room. The system combines live imagery, taken with a smartphone or iPad, with 3-D pictures of furniture to present a realistic recreation of your living room with stuff you may or may not be able to afford.
This novel e-commerce tool—as well as other startup tech including a camera-equipped pill—shares quite a bit in common with Israel's ambitious anti-rocket project. Iron Dome, which has turned thousands of deadly Hamas missiles flying as far as 70 kilometers (44 miles) away into puffs of white smoke, was created by a state-owned company called Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. One of Cimagine’s founders is a former software engineer at Rafael, as are most of the Yokneam Ilit, Israel-based startup's engineering team.
Israel owes much of its technological prowess to the country's near-constant state of war. The nation spent $15.2 billion, or roughly 6 percent of gross domestic product, on defense last year, according to data from the International Institute of Strategic Studies, a U.K. think-tank. That's double the proportion of defense spending to GDP for the U.S., a longtime Israeli ally. If there’s one thing the U.S. Congress can agree on these days, it’s continued support for Israel’s defense technology. Legislators approved $225 million in emergency spending for Iron Dome on Aug. 1, and President Barack Obama signed it into law three days later.
The strength of Israel's military—ranked fourth in the world by expenditures, according to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook—feeds into the private sector. The country's mandatory military service acts as a training ground and networking opportunity for Israel's brightest minds, and has helped to cultivate strong cyber-security and consumer-technology industries.
Cimagine developed its furniture software in-house using computer vision and image processing that's akin to what drives guided missile and defense systems like Iron Dome, says Yoni Nevo, the chief executive officer. Similar to how a rocket can home in on a moving tank, Cimagine keeps a virtual La-Z-Boy anchored in the room on-screen regardless of the user’s movements, he says.
“We scan the environment about 60 times per second and draw it, based on movements, about 30 times per second,” Nevo says. “It looks as if it’s the real thing."
Another Rafael alum, Gavriel Iddan, invented the PillCam. Once ingested, the 26-millimeter-long capsule carries a camera that transmits images from inside the small intestine. Iddan declined to comment for this story, and Rafael didn’t respond to a request for comment. The global health-care giant Covidien spent $870 million to acquire Given Imaging, the company Iddan co-founded, earlier this year.
Jonathan Medved, a tech investor who backed Cimagine, expects the influence of Iron Dome on tech to be even stronger now that the world has witnessed what it can do.
“I’m sure you’ll see dozens of companies spinning off of Iron Dome’s technology,” says Medved, the CEO of Jerusalem-based crowdfunding site OurCrowd. “The real-time computing at the heart of that is really quite impressive.”