Weekend Roundup: iSkoot, JewBerry, Ntrig and more layoffs

If at first the idea is not absurd, there is no hope for it”  – Albert Einstein

In the center of our attention this week stood the US elections, leaving little space for Israeli startup headlines. Here’s a roundup of this week’s winners and losers. more layoffs:

Going up:

1) iSkoot raises a whooping $19 million C round

The round was lead by Master Fund and current investors Charles River Ventures, Khosla Ventures, Jesselson Capital Corporation and ZG Ventures. To date, the company has raised $32 million, to develop software that enables using Skype from regular mobile phones. According to TechCrunch, iSkoot has recently gotten headlines for bringing Skype to G1, Google’s first Android phone.

Through a partnership with mobile carrier Hutch, carrier-friendly iSkoot is now being distributed through the “3” mobile network in eight countries, with total sales of 300,000 iSkoot-enabled phones in Europe and Asia. iSkoot is planning to use this round’s proceeds to develop a mobile platform for AT&T, according to Venture Beat. Last August, iSkoot made a first move into the social mobile space by acquiring social.im, who developed technology to send instant messages over the phone, based on a user’s social graph on Facebook.

Watch iSkoot on the Android:


The San Francisco/Israel based company is led by CEO Mark Jacobstein, formerly the EVP of Loopt Inc.

2) Say hello to the JewBerry!

While everyone is focused on the iPhone or Android (see Kosher iPhone apps), a group of tech savvy Orthodox entrepreneurs in New York decided to bring Jewish texts to the Blackberry. In the New York Post article “Faith Goes Wireless” creators Jonathan Bennett and Jonathan Kestenbaum say that using GPS technology, for instance, the phone will one day enable Jews to create minyans – the minimum-10-member groups necessary for prayer. The software is available for $30.

Check out the NY Post Demo:

3) N-trig’s multi-touch screen technology will be incorporated in Windows 7.

Image Credit: Calcalist

Israel-based NTrig has created the DuoSense technology that combines both stylus and capacitive touch in a single device. One of the first features of the upcoming operating system released by Microsoft is a multi touch interface that enables a Hands-on computing (HOC) experience. Behind this announcement is Kfar Saba-based Ntrig who offers both the software and hardware solution, the touch screen itself.  According to Israeli news site Calcalist, Ntrig has reported revenues of $40 million in 2008 and the company expects to double that amount in 2009 due to Intel’s decision to incorporate Ntrig’s technology in its new line of hand held devices.

Going Down:

Layoffs continue to hit Israeli companies. You know that the shit has hit the fan when you’re friends start sending you resumes.

1) PopTok is laying off 8 out their 40 employees in Israel. The JVP Studio and GTI Group funded startup, raised $3 million recently and is one of Israel’s most promising video projects. POPTOK enables users to send 5 second video snippets of Hollywood movies, tv shows and music to friends via IM. Think of it as video emoticons. The layoffs were made in the midst of an agreement signed with NBC Universal that will inject popular TV and movie clips in to PopTok’s chats. (source)

2) Lumenis will lay off a total of 100 employees, 40 in Israel and the rest in the US. The company manufactures medical devices for the aesthetics industry.

3) Neocraft, developer of software for the music industry, is shutting down and has fired all 15 employees in Israel. Neocraft had raised $5.5 million from Pitango and Star. The founders are fighting to keep the technology alive. (source)

Read-Worthy:

Eze Vidra
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Eze Vidra

Chief Innovation Officer at Antidote
Eze is the Chief Innovation Officer at Antidote, a startup helping patients search and match to clinical trial, to accelerate medical breakthroughs. Previously, Ezewas a General Partner at Google Ventures Europe. Before GV, Eze founded and led Campus London, Google's first physical hub for startups, and was the Head 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.
Eze Vidra
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Latest posts by Eze Vidra (see all)

Eze Vidra

Eze is the Chief Innovation Officer at Antidote, a startup helping patients search and match to clinical trial, to accelerate medical breakthroughs. Previously, Eze was a General Partner at Google Ventures Europe. Before GV, Eze founded and led Campus London, Google's first physical hub for startups, and was the Head 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.