Monday, May 18, 2015

Baidu Invests in Israeli Content-Recommendation Company Taboola

Baidu, the maker of China’s largest search engine, has made a strategic investment in Israeli content recommendation startup Taboola. The companies declined to name the exact amount of the deal, but according to person familiar with the matter, Baidu invested $20 million to $30 million, expanding Taboola’s latest round.

Taboola serves up the links in the “Around The Web” and “Recommended For You” sections you see at the bottom of articles on sites such as The Atlantic, Business Insider, and Mail Online.

Baidu’s stake is a follow-on to the $117 million Series E round led by Fidelity Management that Taboola (which competes with Outbrain) announced in February at a reported valuation of almost $1 billion. At that time, chief executive officer Singolda said that the company’s top priorities include expanding into more international markets.

The potential synergies between Taboola and Baidu are obvious. Baidu can use Taboola’s tech to build its knowledge graph, while the deal represents a way for Taboola to break into the growing Chinese market, which now has an Internet penetration rate of 47.9%.

Baidu claims that it currently holds a 75% share of China’s combined PC and mobile search market and that it powers tens of billions of search queries every day.

Taboola, which was founded in 2007, says that it now delivers more than 200 billion monthly content recommendations to 550 million users. While Taboola’s research initially revolved figuring out how to deliver relevant content for users on desktop sites, the company is now trying to figure out how to map data from other sources, including mobile devices, social media sites, and apps. This aligns closely with Baidu’s current business strategy.

Working with Taboola can help Baidu in its aggressive push to get more revenue from its mobile products. “We’re definitely a mobile company first now and everything we do begins with mobile and takes priority over our PC products,” Baidu spokesman Kaiser Kuo said. “We’re not ignoring PC, but in just eight quarters, we built a mobile business that is the same size as our PC business, which took 15 years to build.”

Unlike the U.S. and Europe, where sponsored links are standard fare for major sites, there are few companies in China that provide the same kind of services as Taboola. Taboola’s other moves into Asia include a strategic partnership with Yahoo! Japan, which it inked last year. The company now powers content recommendations across the Yahoo! Japan News site network.

In a prepared statement, Taboola founder and chief executive officer Adam Singolda said “we believe that discovery has massive growth potential in both existing and untapped markets around the world, and we plan to grow this new category even further with Baidu to help change the way people in China discover content they may like and never knew existed.”

While Taboola is headquartered in New York, its research and development team is based in Tel Aviv. This makes it the third company with Israeli operations that Baidu has invested in so far (the others are music app maker Tonara and video tech developer Pixellot), following a trend that sees major Chinese tech companies pouring serious yuan into the country’s startup scene.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

April 2015 - Fund Raising and Exits in the Start Up Nation

·         American PE fund Francisco Partners buys Clicks Software for $433m;
·         Blackberry buys WatchDox ( for $150m;
·         Check Point (NASDAQ:CHKP) buys Lacoon Networks for $100m
·         Music Messenger ( raised $30m from Roman Abramovich, David Guetta and others;
·         Via ( raises $27m;
·         Tapingo ( raised $22.4m from Qualcomm Ventures, DCM Ventures, Carmel Ventures and Khosla Ventures;
·         Apple buys LinX for $20m;
·         Loop Commerce raised $16m from varies private investors;
·         Triplay ( raised $11m in a round led by Kenges Rakishev;
·         Windward raised $10.8m from Horizon Ventures;
·         Wix buys for $10m;
·         Zebra Medical ( raised $8m from Khosla Ventures, and Deep Fork Capital;
·         Baidu invested $5m in Tonara (;
·         InfinityAR ( raised $5m from Sun Corporation, Singulariteam and Platinum Partners;
·         EyeYon raises $3.6m from TriVentures, Pontifax and JDA;
·         Carmel Ventures led a $3.5m investment round in Yeloha (;
·         Folloze ( raised $3.3m from NEA, Cervin Ventures and TriplePoint Ventures;
·         GameEffective ( raised $3m from Verint, 2B Angeles and Shaked Ventures;