Wrapping the Israeli internet scene in 2007

One of my favorite blogs in Hebrew, thecoils, has posted a comprehensive overview of the venture capital and M&A activity of Israeli companies and funds in 2007, as well as some predictions for 2008. For those who can’t read Hebrew, I translated and summarized the main points from the post and added a few bits of my own.
The year 2007 will undoubtedly be remembered as the ‘comeback’ year of the Israeli internet. It was characterized with a high number of exits, an increased level of investment from vcs, enhanced influence of private investors and a strong impact of Israeli startups on the global arena.

Venture Capital Investments

— Israeli VC funds needed to re-adjust to their strategy to capture the potential of Israeli consumer internet applications. Gemini Israel Funds was the pioneer in the field, by creating LGiLab, an joint venture with LightSpeed Venture Partners that dynamically invests small amounts in promising pre-seed projects. The shift paid off, since Gemini got involved in no less than a total of nine investments, five of them through the lab.

— Most of the startups that managed to raise capital from VCs were in the large part founded by experienced entrepreneurs. Their ideas were more than just features, but to echo Gemini’s Danny Cohen in his interview to Venture Beat, we haven’t seen game-changing products coming out of Israel this year.

— A trend that grew this year is vc investments in Israeli companies made by international funds. Israel was marked as an attractive target for investors and most likely the reasons for such investments are:

  • International funds recognized the potential of the Israeli internet industry
  • Lack of supply of disruptive ideas in some of the international markets
  • The added value that international funds provide is likely to be higher than a local investor
  • Israeli entrepreneurs seek international investments when they experience difficulties raising capital from local vcs.

This trend is likely to continue growing next year.

Thecoils compiled the informative table below, summarizing all the internet investments in Israeli companies during 2007 (Click to maximize)

Vc investments in israel 2007

Short recap of this year’s investments in Israeli web startups by international VC funds:

– Mayfield: Fixya.com
– Accel : Dapper, MetaCafe, MyHeritage, Zlango
– First Round Capital: Gigya, Reimage
– Crossbar Capital: Reimage, BitWine
– Spark Capital: 5Min

— There’s also the opposite trend – Israeli funds investing in foreign ideas: Gemini had two of those in France this year: Wikio and Bahu.

— Not all the startups didn’t receive funding, and for many it took a long time to get there. It’s not a bad thing – natural selection and angel investors play a big role with this bunch.

Private investors and angels

2007 will be remembered as the comeback year for the angels in Israel.

— Yossi Vardi alone, who recently interviewed with BusinessWeek magazine, invested in 65 companies in the past five years. Most of them are Israeli. He said that third were a success.
— Private funds started appearing, organizing groups of investors. One example is Igal Ahuvi’s private fund, Partam Properties Ltd.

— Angel Clubs such as afterdox and Tevel are becoming more and more popular. This year they haven’t made an impact in the investment arena, but next year you are likely to hear more about them.

Israeli Internet Exits

— 2007 returned the glory to the Israeli exits. The dream to start a company and get rich even evolved into “Mesudarim“, the Israeli version of ‘Entourage’ – a show about four friends that sell their startup to an American corporation for $217 million and live it up with the new found wealth.

Quigo, Kassamba and Oridian Online were some of the biggest Israeli internet exits of 2007 adding up to more than $400 million dollars in returns.
Yedda gave hope to all the startups that didn’t open an American branch. Terms were undisclosed. dPolls that was acquired by Toluna.

Smartshopper was sold to Zango for $9M and Rawsugar that was thought to be dead but eventually sold to Suggestica inc, likely for peanuts.

Israeli Internet startups got more traction

israeli startupsYou’ve got to hand it to some of the tiny Israeli startups that managed to catch the spotlight using creative marketing, originality and the well known Israeli ‘hutzpa’. A few noteworthy startups include:

Gigya: started as a fun email application for kids, but today its one of the leaders in the widget industry. Seven out of the ten big sites uses their products. This is one to keep an eye on.

Pando: revolutionized large file transferring using bit torrent technology. Getting close to 15M users.

5min: a life videopedia and one of the biggest collections of how to videos on the web. 5mnin recently raised $5M from Spark capital and are now in the process of opening offices in the US.

BlogTV: a broadcasting platform that is trying to get a stand in a new market

Oberon Media: online game manufacturer signed an agreement with Myspace.com and is likely to be the next giant Israeli internet exit when it goes public in 2008. (see more here)

FoxyTunes: one of the top ten most popular plugins for firefox, allowing users to control any media player through the browser.

Fring and Pudding Media: bring the VOIP revolution and IM chats to the mobile phone.

AniBoom – The youtube of Online Animation

and many more. (click for a long list of Israeli startups)

Global recognition and awards

Israeli companies brought some pride home with a few significant achievements in global startup competitions :

TechCrunch40: Kaltura wins the people’s choice, Ceedo is nominated

LeWeb3: PLYmedia and G.ho.st won the second and third place respectively (see more here)

Crunchies: iMedix, aniboom, Fring, Gizmoz were nominated among the finalists in four different categories (see more here).

Alternative search engines: Omgili and Answers.com ranked in the top 10 alternative search engines (see more here).

Fast 500: Israeli Tops Deloitte Technology Fast 500 Ranking: Takes First, Second and Third Places in Europe (see more here)

Wrapping up 2007

I join the authors of thecoils in congratulating the Israeli internet industry for doing much with little and redefining the meaning of bootstrapping. May 2008 be full of exits and exciting new technology. I’d like to use this opportunity to reach out to Israeli startups that are interested in being featured on VC Cafe if you are launching a new product, looking for funding or introductions, contact me at eze@vccafe.com.

Eze Vidra

Eze is startup investor and advisor. Until recently he was a General Partner at Google Ventures Europe. Before joining GV, Eze started Campus London, Google's first physical hub for startups, and led Google for Entrepreneurs in Europe. He's an experienced product manager and startup mentor. In 2012 Eze founded Techbikers, a non-for profit supporting children education in developing countries.

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