General winter is here in San Francisco, and I felt his impact well this week as I battled the flue in bed. Due to a short break, some of this week’s top headlines didn’t make it to the front page of VC Cafe. So, thank you for your patience and enjoy the bitesize newsbrief below. More to come.
Benchmark backs Conduit in a $8 million round (Red Herring)
Conduit, an Israeli maker of white-label toolbars and syndication tools, has closed on an $8 million round from Benchmark Capital. The proceeds will be allocated to expand the marketing and R&D of the three year old company. Approx 140,000 publishers have joined the Conduit network worldwide, including Fox News, Lufthansa, Greenpeace, and more. A board member of the company mentioned that it plans to go beyond toolbars, but I don’t want to spoil it for you – stay tuned for an exclusive VC Cafe interview with Ronen Shilo, founder and chief executive of Conduit later this week.
UnisFair raises $10 million in series C led by Norwest Ventures (TechCrunch)
Unisfair, an Israeli startup developing a platform for virtual events, has taken $10 million Series C in a round led by Norwest Ventures. Unisfair powers virtual corporate events such live Expos, Trade Shows, & Conferences “that use rich media to provide a superior user experience. Founded in Israel in 2002, Unisfair is now headquartered in Menlo Park with offices in New York and Ramat-Gan, Israel. Shmil Levy, a partner with Sequoia Israel (an earlier investor) chairs the board.
Israel’s Gigya launches Widget Ads, a new widget ad network (Press Release)
Gigya, provider of tools for tracking and boosting widget distribution, announced the launch of its widget distribution network, which connects advertisers, content providers and social media users, to deliver and track results-driven widget advertising campaigns. Some of the starting clients are: Kimberly-Clark, Jive Records, 360i, and Avenue A | Razorfish. In addition to its solutions for widget distribution and tracking, Gigya offers a full suite of widget services through its Social Media Marketing Platform, including widget design, development, hosting, viral promotion and tracking. (Learn more about Gigya on VC Cafe)
Incredimail’s roller-coaster relationship with Google (part I)
On January 11th, Google (GOOG) announced the account deactivation of Israel’s Incredimail (Nasdaq: MAIL), an Internet content and media company, causing a downfall of over 45 percent in Incredimail’s stock value which eliminated almost $20 million of Incredimail’s market cap reaching a new year-low. On January 21st, Incredimail announced the reactivation of its Google Adsense account in a statement: “Although recent events will have a negative impact on the Company’s first quarter 2008 search-generated revenues, the Company believes that search-generated revenues will continue to be a significant driver of its results, and remains committed to increasing its co-operations with Google and other search companies.”
Kaltura introduces video mashups to Wikipedia
Israel and New York-based Kaltura is now partnering with Wikipedia, hoping to bring community-edited video to the community-edited encyclopedia and to other wiki pages.
BlogTV Transitioning to Conferencing Utility?
Israeli broadcasting platform BlogTV has released two major features last week. The first is called the Private 1ON1 video chat, a way to enable video chat by using the BlogTV system. Instead of bringing in automatic compositing and switching as in Operator11, the additional users in the setup pop into a second window. In addition, BlogTV users will now be able to use the system to transfer files under five megabytes with one another.
Data Essence raises $1 million to further develop semantic search technology (Globes)
Data Essence, an Israeli startup developing semantic search technology has raised $1 million from Battery Ventures, ProSeed Venture Capital Fund, and Vertex Venture Capital. They made the investment through Technion Entrepreneurial Incubator Co. Ltd. (TEIC), which they own. The company was founded in 2007 by CEO Amnon Mishor and CTO Yaron Karasik.
Dune Networks raises $12m (Globes)
Dune Networks, provider of fabless networking devices for Metro Ethernet, Enterprise and Data Center platforms, has announced a $12 million series B investment round led by US Venture Partners. In addition, all of Dune’s prior investors took part in the company’s second financing round. Dune was founded in October 2000 and is led by CEO Eyal Dagan. The company is headquartered in Sunnyvale CA and has its R&D offices in Israel.
Chip manufacturer Marvell invests $200 million annually in Israel
Globes interviews Marvell‘s CEO Dr. Sehat Sutardja. Marvell (Nasdaq: MRVL) first began operating in Israel in 2001 with the acquisition of Galileo. The R&D center in Israel is managed by Eliaz Lavi, who was appointed six weeks ago. Sutardja says the company intends to invest $600 million in Israel over the next three years, of which 60-70% will be salary costs, and adds that the company intends to increase its expenditure in Israel by a further $40 million during the same period, which will be spent on what he calls “infrastructure.”
Israel Chemicals buying Henkel lines for $89 mln
ICL (ISCHF), the Tel Aviv producer of fertilizer and specialty chemicals, said that integrating the Henkel business would boost revenue at its ICL Performance Products unit to about $1.1 billion annually, based on 2006 results. As part of the deal, ICL will acquire Henkel Concorde, a French company with interests in water treatment.
IGPA to acquire Negevtech (Globes)
Israel Growth Partners Acquisition Corp. (IGPA) has been reported to acquire Israeli-based high-tech company Negevtech. Founded in 2000, Negevtech specializing in high-resolution wafer inspection for finding defects and controlling yields in semiconductor wafer processing. Want to learn more about Negevtech?
Download Negevtech’s Background (PDF, 77KB)
Israel jump-starts electric car market (FT)
Renault/ Nissan and Israeli startup company Project Better Place, led by Shai Aagassi and backed by Ehud Olmert’s government, will outline plans to blanket the Jewish state with half a million charging spots and battery-swap stations for electric cars. See also on NY Times.
Israel Cleantech Ventures invests total of $3m in CellEra and Citrine (IVC)
Israel Cleantech Ventures is the country’s first specialized venture capital fund in this sector. In its fifth investment so far, Israel Cleantech backed CellEra, alternative energy company developing a disruptive technology promising to turn fuel-cell power sources into a mass-market commercial reality. Founded in 2007, the company is led by CEO Ziv Gottesfeld and VP R&D Dario Dekel. It has 5 employees.
The fund’s sixth investment is $1 million in Citrine – an Israeli startup founded by Amir Assa a year ago. Citrine is developing systems to convert biogas generated by landfills, waste water treatment plants, and other sources into high-value natural gas, which can be used to power natural gas vehicles.
Ben Gurion University invests in Cleantech Ventures (Globes)
Ben Gurion University of the Negev will invest in Israel Cleantech Ventures Funds and will collaborate with it in locating and developing ventures in the field. Cleantech Ventures is still raising a $60 million fund, and has already made six investments. BenGurion University is known for its water purification research.