Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Israeli Startups Raise Impressive $994 Million In First Quarter Of 2015

According to a report released by IVC Research Center, 166 Israeli startup companies raised a whopping $994 million from venture capital firms in the first quarter of 2015, the second-best result in the last decade.

Even more telling, this figure was 48 percent higher than the $673 million raised by 160 companies in the first quarter of 2014. However, it is still 10 percent below the record high $1.1 billion invested in 184 companies in the fourth quarter of 2014.

The average company financing round averaged at $6 million, equal to the previous quarter’s average, but well above the $4.2 million average raised in the first quarter of 2014. The IVC report also shows that in the first quarter of 2015, 91 VC-backed deals accounted for $832 million – 84 percent of the total capital invested.

The average VC-backed deal peaked at $9.1 million, compared to $7.7 million and $6.1 million in the fourth and first quarter of last year, respectively.

And the figures show foreign investment is still leading, proving how high up on international investors’ lists Israeli startups have become. Indeed, the vast majority of investment in Israeli startups is foreign: Israeli venture capital firms invested only $180 million in local startups and high-tech companies, or 18 percent of all investments, in the first quarter this year.

Best-ever quarter for Israeli internet startups

The research also shows Internet companies are still leading the pack in terms of deal flow: The sector experienced its best quarter ever with $343 million raised by 44 companies, a 35 percent slice of the funding pie.

The life sciences and software sectors followed, accounting for 22 percent and 19 percent of total capital raised, respectively.

“The increase in high-tech capital raising is not coincidental, but directly reflects the trend toward growth company investments and higher valuations of mid- and late-stage companies,” Koby Simana, CEO of IVC Research Center, said in a statement. He further commented that “up to a year ago, we were accustomed to seeing average financing rounds of $3 million to $4 million in the internet sector. In recent quarters though, we’ve been observing a distinct rise in the average internet financing round. This trend is even more evident among growth-stage internet companies for which the average deal jumped from $6 million about a year ago to $16.3 million in the first quarter of 2015.”

Partly responsible for the high investments in the first quarter of 2015 were content marketing startup Taboola, which raised $117 million in February; and mobile app search company Quixey, which raised $60 million in a funding round led by Chinese e-commerce group Alibaba. But IVC’s analysis shows that “those were not unique events, They fit in well with the activity surrounding the internet sector and the rise in the number of early-stage investments. These parallel trends mostly feed each other as the increase in growth-stage internet companies attracts more entrepreneurs and investors into the sector.” Simana predicts that these success stories “will drive the volume of growth deals as well as contribute to increase seed-stage investments, which up until last quarter, were on the decline.”

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Maritime Data Startup Windward Raises $10.8M To Track The Oceans

Windward, which provides maritime data and analytics, has raised $10.8 million in funding led by Horizons Ventures, with participation from returning investor Aleph.

This brings the company’s total raised so far to $15.8 million.

The startup’s products currently include MARINT, which tracks vessel traffic using commercial satellites and alerts law enforcement and intelligence agencies about suspicious behavior, such as smuggling or illegal fishing.

CEO and co-founder Ami Daniel said that the funding will be used to build Windward’s data and analytics platform, scale up MARINT, and bring FORESEA, a financial platform targeted to commodity traders, hedge fund investors, and analysts that is currently in beta, to market.

Daniel says Windward was founded to aggregate information about ship activity at sea, since “the data is massive, fragmented, and often intentionally manipulated.”

“As the company evolved, we realized that the potential applications of real maritime visibility were far more wide-reaching than just security and intelligence, and that our data could bring huge value across the ecosystem, from financial markets to global supply chains, international trading patterns, and more,” he adds.

For example, Windward’s data can be used to show how much oil is actually available in floating storages compared to how much has been reported, which is important for oil traders and anyone else who needs to keep an eye on oil prices. While there are other companies that analyze maritime data, Windward relies on big data to stand out.

“While some companies look at aspects of what Windward is doing, no one is taking all maritime data, 24/7, analyzing it, vetting it, bringing cyber security algorithms to it, and making sense of it across verticals. What’s more, those providing maritime data today take an information services approach, a time intensive approach of people putting together reports, spreadsheets, etc.,” says Daniel.

The company’s growth plans revolve around scaling up MARINT and FORESEA, as well as finding other applications for its data analysis platform through data partnership programs.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Japan's Dentsu buys Israeli performance ad co abaGada

Israel's advertising industry continues to attract global attention: today, Japanese advertising company Dentsu Aegis Network, a unit of Dentsu Inc., which has a market cap of $13.2 billion, announced the acquisition of Israeli performance advertising company abaGada.

The acquisition price was not disclosed, but market estimates put it at $60-90 million depending on the size of milestone payments. This is Dentsu's first acquisition in Israel, and represents a significant statement of intent.

The Japanese advertising company has operated in Israel in recent years under Carat Israel. The acquisition was led by Liran Chen, CEO of Carat Israel. abaGada was founded in 2010 by two former employees of Google Israel: Eyal Chen, CEO, and Kobi Frankental. Among the company's clients are television production company Keshet, Bezeq International, Kia, Issta, Google, Danone, and Johnson & Johnson.

The three founders set up the company using their own money and, as befits a performance company, it was profitable from the outset and has not raised external funds. abaGada will become part of Dentsu Aegis Network and transition towards operating as iProspect - Dentsu Aegis Network’s global digital performance agency. Eyal Chen will become CEO of Dentsu Aegis Network, Israel, and abaGada's 22 employees will transfer to this entity. Chen will report to Thierry Jadot, CEO of Dentsu Aegis Network, France & Middle East.

“This acquisition marks another important step in the continued growth of Dentsu Aegis Network and the reach of our digital capabilities,” said Jadot, “With advanced services, a high level of technology products and expertise delivered to globally renowned brands and partners, abaGada is a highly successful business that is both strategically and geographically suited for our global network.” 

“Bringing abaGada into iProspect enables us to scale our brand presence in the crucial high tech Israeli marketplace, adding another dimension to our global digital capabilities. We look forward to welcoming Eyal and the whole abaGada team to iProspect,” said Ben Wood, Global President of iProspect. "We are looking forward to joining Dentsu Aegis Network and offering our digital marketing services and technology to more global brands. Our dynamic team will act as the conduit between the innovative Israeli market and Dentsu Aegis Network’s and iProspect's global network, whilst continuing to provide our clients with the highest value in digital marketing," Chen said.

Friday, April 3, 2015

24 Hours in Israel - Amazing

  • Check Point buys Israeli startup Lacoon Mobile Security for $100m
  • Israeli startup Via raised $27m from Pitango
  • Wix buys Israeli startup for $18m
  • Israeli startup Tapingo raised $22m by Qualcomm Ventures