Before we literally kick off the first ball in the 2010 South Africa World Cup, below is a collection of interesting links on Israeli startups and more for the week of June 11th:
Interesting startups of the week
Each week I’ll be profiling 2-3 startups that caught my attention. Hopefully you haven’t heard of them before…
Jivy Group – a mini-conglomerate of companies founded in 2004. Jivy specializes in web development for the gaming and trading industries. They offer option trading platforms, skill and casual games as well as their own development studio. One of its platforms, Jivy Inside, will run as the casual games site for TF1 in France. Our games studio has created the first RPG advergame in Israel for Bamba.
Matomy – provider of alternative payment solutions for social network applications, online and freemium games, MMOs and other players in the online marketplace. Matomy offers a way to pay for virtual goods without the need for a credit card, by presenting users with “offers” that will earn them virtual currency to ‘purchase’ the goods. The biggest company in the space is OfferPal Media.
The 2009 Calpers investment report shows another disappointing year for Israeli venture returns – most funds had negative returns and those with positive returns were extremely low. Even a few of the large exits such as Dune Networks did little to improve the Israeli VC funds balance. Carmel Ventures I was on the top spot with 6.6% return in 2009, followed by Pitango 4 with 4.2%. To date, Calpers has invested $63 million in six Israeli funds including Carmel, Pitango, JVP, Gemini, Israel Seed and Ipax Israel. (via TheMarker)
Israeli incubators are predicted to increase their investment volume (but not size) in 2010. That’s according to a survey conducted by the Incubators Technology Forum. In 2009 incubators invested in 81 new ventures. Technion Seed CEO Moshe Katznelson said, “Incubators are the leaders in seed-stage investment in Israel.” (via Globes).
Evrit, the first e-Reader in Hebrew was launched in Israeli book stores this week. Will the Kindle and the iPad feel a dent?
eType launched autocomplete everywhere. It is an executable download client that completes words as the user types across any browser, email client or word processor. It’s currently available on Windows only – the mobile version is on its way. More on Roi’s post on TechCrunch.This reminds me of another Israeli startup in the Autocomplete space is PredictAd. Founded in 2007, PredictAd’s product puts an emphasis on monetization, by showing contextual ads on the autocomplete drop-down in the search box – this old Mashable post by Ayelet Noff tells their story.
Fribiz, a syndicated virtual currency platform launched this week. The premise of the site is to reward users with real products for interactions on the site. I’ve seen others like Moola try to do the same with casual gaming and virtual currency- they are currently at 80K monthly users according to Compete.com. Let’s hope Fribiz has a better recipe. It was founded by Effi Fuks and Yaniv Shimoni. (via theWadi)
When someone says that a book is “Great for insomniacs” on Amazon – do companies know to categorize the sarcasm as a negative review? A paper published by Oren Tsur, Dmitry Davidov and Ari Rappoport of Institute of CS in the Hebrew University, offers a way for developers to detect sarcasm in consumer reviews. A recommended read for companies doing sentiment analysis and entity extraction. (full title is “ICWSM – A Great Catchy Name: Semi-Supervised Recognition of Sarcastic Sentences in Online Product Reviews“)
Now that the iPhone 4 is out with features like Dual-camera video-conference, beyond-human display resolution (326 dpi), gyroscope, book ecosystem, 5 MP with flash camera, gorgeous hardware (thanks David), etc… is the Flip video camcorder really out? Newteevee tries to answer the question.
Consumer confidence in Israel drops for the second month in a row – reflecting the growing concern about the deteriorating economic conditions in Europe.
[Note] The topic of my London Business School dissertation this year was a VC market scan on virtual goods. If you are experienced in the space, let’s talk. The dissertation will be available on virtualgoodsresearch.com this summer.