Monday, November 17, 2014

Qihoo 360 Plans $60 Million Israeli IoT Fund

Source: Wall Street Jurnal, By Orr Hirschauge

Chinese Internet-security company Qihoo 360 Technology Co. plans to establish a global, early-stage fund with a $60 million target size for investments in Internet-of-Things companies, according to a presentation shown last week by a company representative during a visit in Israel.

The intended fund, called 360 Capital—IoT Fund will focus on investments in China, the U.S. and Israel, the presentation says. Qihoo, which listed American depository receipts on the New York Stock Exchange in 2011, develops and distributes free personal-computer and mobile-security software, deriving revenue from advertising.

The company also has a Web browser and a mobile-application store. With around 7,000 employees, its current market capitalization is more than $9 billion. Qihoo didn't respond to a request for comment.

Qihoo intends to be the leading limited partner in the fund, with other limited partners including both strategic investors and financial institutions, the presentation says. While the fund will be focused on early-stage investments it will be flexible enough to enable later-stage investments, it says.

Qihoo has made several investments in Israel over the past year, including investments in two of the country’s leading venture funds, Carmel Ventures and Jerusalem Venture Partners. It has also led a round of investment in Israeli image-recognition-technology company Cortica Inc.

The company has made at least two more investments in Israeli startups, according to a person familiar with the deals: one in gesture-control-technology company Extreme Reality Ltd. and another in messaging-app maker Glide Talk Ltd. Both companies declined to comment.

Interest in Israeli tech investments by Asian investors, and specifically Chinese investors, has grown significantly in the last two years. In 2013, Korean tech giant Samsung Electronics Co. announced a $100 million fund dedicated to investments in the U.S. and Israel, and Chinese financial-services company Ping An allocated a fund focused on the same geographies in November 2013.

Other Chinese companies investing in Israeli venture funds have included Lenovo Group Ltd. and Baidu Inc. During the past two weeks, a representative of Qihoo met with numerous Israeli startups, including ones developing technology for wearable computing and connected homes, according to a person familiar with the company’s activities.

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