Israel Innovation 2.0

Inside Israeli Technology

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Two big deals were announced during the week of February 8, 2009. Solar energy company BrightSource inked the largest solar energy deal ever that will help power Southern California, while Web 2.0 news and blog recommendation engine, Outbrain raised an impressive $12 million. Google Israel announced that it will be restructuring and Dell introduced the Latitude XT2 Multitouch Tablet, its latest laptop to use N-Trig’s multitouch technology. For these stories and more, check out this week’s 16 Israel-related headlines below.

Cleantech
1. BrightSource Inks 1.3GW SoCal Edison Deal

2. Lamar Testing Solar-Powered Digital Billboards

3. Crisis Bodes Well For Electric Cars

4. Israeli Solar Company AORA Raises $5 Million

Investments
5. Israel’s Pontis gets $19.65 mln in equity financing

6. Outbrain, the news story recommendation service, gets $12M

Information Technology
7. Dell Intros Latitude XT2 Multitouch Tablet

8. Google Israel restructures

9. Startup Neocleus building bare-metal desktop hypervisor 

10. Industry’s Only Clientless Endpoint Security Management Solution

11. Acronova’s Entry Level DVD-R Duplication System Now Shipped with TrusCont Copy Protection System

Telecom/Mobile
12. Modu unveil modular cellphone jackets, promise big MWC launch news

13. Apps the new battlefield for mobile industry (Nexperience)  

14. Having Text? Cell Phone Users Are Cheating on Their Partners

Miscellaneous
15. How Social Media War Was Waged in Gaza-Israel Conflict

16. ‘Waltz with Bashir’ named WGA’s ‘best documentary’

techaviv_logoAfter watching some of the livestream of the TechAviv founder-investor’s meetup in Herziliyya last month and posting  about it, I had the opportunity to attend the monthly meetup last Thursday and listen in person to Israeli startups, SundaySky, FlyScreen and HYPick present their technologies. 

After SundaySky co-founder Yaniv Axen spoke about the company’s impressive dynamic video production technology, Gilad de Vries of Carmel Ventures, which recently led SundaySky’s $8 million A round, talked about what he looks for when considering funding a company. It can be assumed that de Vries and his colleagues applied these same things when Carmel Ventures agreed to lead news and blog recommendation engine, Outbrain’s $12 million B round that was announced this week.  

Here is a video of de Vries’ presentation at TechAviv last week.

While attending a VC Cafe meetup in Tel Aviv last week, I had the opportunity to meet Henry Broodney, co-founder and COO of the Israel-based business continuity software company, InGrid Networks. The company’s data protection suite provides small businesses with solutions for backup and recovery and disaster recovery for desktops, laptops and servers by “leveraging existing networked resources to create a private storage cloud that integrates with a public cloud for off-site disaster protection.”   

In this video taken at the meetup, Broodney gives a brief overview of the company.

Benefits of the technology include, seamless operation, low cost of ownership and ease of use.

Globes reported yesterday that Google Israel, which has been behind Google Trends and YouTube Annotations among other features, will be restructuring its presence in Israel and creating a Google – Israel R&D Center.

According to the article, the new center will combine Google’s R&D operations in Tel Aviv and Haifa but will still allow them to function as two separate offices, though the longterm fate of the Haifa is questionable. It will also add data analysis and search to its responsibilities.

The article drew my attention because it indirectly raises the questions:

  • How long will the Google -Israel R&D Center continue to function in two separate locations? (It sort of addresses it – “At this stage we are keeping the existing situation.”)
  • Will it be hiring or firing based on this? (Google Israel currently only has openings in Tel Aviv)
  • Given Microsoft Israel’s and EMC’s recent outsourcing and recruiting programs in Israel, will Google follow with its own program and incentives?

Expanding on the last question, in a post a few weeks ago about Microsoft Israel’s efforts, some of the benefits I listed of implementing such programs included: additional exposure, new products and a large pool of potential future employees. Of course, there’s also the cost-efficiency advantage. It seems now would be the perfect time for Google Israel to implement its own program. 

What do you think?

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During the week of February 1, 2009, SemantiNet released a Beta version of its FireFox add-on, Headup to the public and Shai Agassi talked electric cars at TED. Commtouch partnered with MailChannels and promising Israeli startups presented their technologies at the TechAviv meetup in Herziliyya. For these stories and more, check  below for the 13 Israel-related headlines from the week of February 1, 2009. 

Cleantech

1. Israeli startup grabs $5M for distributed solar thermal

2. Shai Agassi talks electric cars at TED

3. I’m Twittering Over Water In Jerusalem

Investment and Economy

4. Local hi-tech companies raise 27% less venture capital

5. Billions flow between Israel, Silicon Valley

6. Some Amazing New Startups (TechAviv)

Information Technology

7. New technology synopsizes video surveillance

8. MailChannels And CommTouch To Bring Premium Spam Filtering To Parrallels Plesk Panel

9. New technology synopsizes video surveillance

10. SemantiNet Announces headup Semantic Web Plugin for Firefox is Immediately Available as Public Beta

Miscellaneous

11. Why I’m heading back to the US

12.  Wanted: Work

13. An Improved Economic Outlook and Low Interest Rates Are Increasing the IT Spending In Israel states New Report

magiclogoMagic Software Enterprises, Ltd., a provider of application platforms and business and process integration solutions, announced yesterday the general availability of  its latest SaaS offering for CRM, the Data Replicator for Salesforce.com. 

Designed to provide automatic, real-time data back-up for organizations using Salesforce.com, Data Replicator allows organizations to now “rapidly and easily reproduce any snapshot of their Salesforce.com data and make it available on their on-premise databases.” By doing such, organizations can leverage their Salesforce.com data for better reporting, forecasting and regulatory compliance. 

The Data Replicator for Salesforce.com is part of Magic Software’s iBOLT business and process integration product line and can be used for business intelligence, data storage and data mining needs. 

Below is an video overview from a few months ago of the iBolt for Salesforce.com suite. 

Product information for the Data Replicator for Salesforce.com can be found on the Magic Software site here.

Microsoft Israel announced earlier this month that it is making its DreamSpark program available to students in high-school and university in Israel.

According to the site, the program – which will provide $10 million in equipment – enables students to “download professional-level Microsoft developer [and design] tools to advance your learning and skills through technical design, technology, math, science and engineering activities.” 

Around the same time as this announcement, Microsoft Israel also announced Israel’s inclusion in the Imagine Cup 2009 worldwide competition. Imagine Cup, which focuses on students studying computer science and engineering in specific, challenges students in those areas to ”Imagine a world where technology helps solve the toughest problems facing us today.” Students who participate can choose from one of 9 categories, including Software Design, IT, Design and Photography, among others,  to create their solution. 

Microsoft’s announcements together with EMC’s Center of Excellence program that was announced last month seems to indicate a trend among big IT companies to reduce their R&D costs by outsourcing while developing and building a pool of potential future employees. Aside from being cost-effective, it can help prevent some participants who might have an entrepreneurial flare from creating a company that could turn into a competitor or which these companies would have to purchase for a lot of money.

Regarding Microsoft’s move in specific, four possible benefits of the program for the company are:

  • Additional exposure: It is good publicity for the companies products and raises awareness of them among potential users.
  • New products: Microsoft can further develop any of the projects submitted in the Imagine Cup competition. This can help it gain valuable ground in Web 2.0 and especially Enterprise 2.0. 
  • Long-term future users: Similar to Microsoft’s strategy of providing poor countries with free copies of its customer software products, any students who use Microsoft’s developer software via DreamSpark who might not have ever used it, will now gain a familiarity and knowledge of it that will make them more inclined to continue to use Microsoft products in the future. It also can create loyalty among a young crowd that can lead to several sales over a long period of time. 
  • Large pool of potential future employees: With both programs, Microsoft will now have a major database of students worldwide who can be tapped for jobs in the next few years as they finish schoo. Having a larger database will give it the ability to be selective and ensure that only the top candidates will be hired. 

It wouldn’t be surprising if other companies also went after students for R&D-related purposes in the next few months. 

More information about DreamSpark can be found here.

Globes reported today that SAP’s recent announcement that it was cutting 6% of its global workforce (3,000 jobs) would likely include some layoffs to its Israel division.  

Despite its reaching €3.5 billion revenue for the fourth quarter in 2008, SAP’s software sales were down 7%. According to Globes,

SAP co-CEO Leo Apotheker said, “The cost containment measures will allow us to adapt to the tough market conditions and ensure the long term competitiveness of the company. We expect 2009 to be a year of limited visibility, making it increasingly difficult to project sales in this environment.”

Currently based in Ra’anana, SAP has had a presence in Israel since 1998 and has over 900 employees. According to the Israel R&D site, Matimop, the Israel division of SAP focuses on the following four areas: SAP Netweaver (BPM), SAP Business One (Small business solutions), supply chain execution, SAP Master Data Management (MDM).

The article also reports that despite looming layoffs, the company is hiring sales people. Here is a video example of Business One in action. 


SAP Business One

axxanalogoEarlier this month, Jon Brodkin of Network World named Axxana to his list, “10 start-ups to watch in ’09“. Today, he included the enterprise storage company as one of five vendors who are pushing flash technology for the enterprise in “How flash is changing storage…

In October 2008, Axxana exited stealth mode at the Storage Networking World conference to introduce its enterprise data recorder, which is similar in idea and design to an aviation black box. Amidst a crowded database storage and recovery market, Axxana’s innovative technology promises no data loss, unlimited distance and cost effectiveness. 

According to Axxana’s website

“EDR (enterprise data recording) combines aviation Flight Data Recorder (Black Box) expertise with newly developed technologies to address today’s most pressing data protection challenges – data loss, distance between primary and EDR data centers and cost.

The Axxana Phoenix System (Black Box) is located near the storage system at the primary data center and records a synchronous data stream from the storage. At the same time, an asynchronous data replication system is moving data to a secondary data center (the remote recovery site). The Phoenix Black Box has to protect only the Gigabytes of data that would have been lost in a typical asynchronous replication scenario. Data is protected inside the Black Box during the course of the disaster and can be immediately extracted.”

Phoenix system

Data extraction in an emergency is achieved either by:

* Physically locating the system by tracking the homing signal and connecting a laptop with an Axxana software component to the Phoenix System™ at the disaster site, or
* The self sufficient and well protected system transferring the data to the secondary site using highly resilient cellular broadband technology.

The technology is the first to achieve all of the following:

* Zero post-disaster data loss (RPO=0, as with synchronous replication)
* Unlimited distance to DR data center (as with asynchronous replication)
* Quick data recovery (very short RTO)
* Significant operational-cost reductions for data protection by enabling the use of existing data center assets, and low-cost commodity communication lines

According to Brodkin, the Phoenix System is currently in Beta and will be available at the end of the first quarter. With a cost in the six-figure range, the Phoenix will appeal most to customers in the financial services, healthcare, manufacturing, retail and government industries.

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During the week of January 18, 2009, business was back to normal for better and for worse. Announcements were made that Israel is planning the largest desal plant and Varonis and SAManage received funding. On the other end, the Israel Venture Capital Research Center released VC funding numbers for the fourth quarter of 2008 that were expectedly very low and promising social search engine, Delver announced that unless it receives more funding or gets acquired in the next few weeks it will cease its operations. For these and the rest of the 18 Israel-related headlines from the week of January 18, check below. 

Cleantech

1. Israel plans largest desal plant in $513M deal

2. Cleantech Expert: “In Financial Crisis Context, Israeli Solar Energy Companies Could be Shining Stars”

Investments and Economy

3. Aviv VC raises half of what it hoped

4. EMC leads $15m round for Varonis

5. Global crisis hits local venture capital industry

6. Nokia, Intel Slump Torpedoes Israel Economy as Rockets Grounded 

7. SAManage Secures Series A Funding from Xenia Venture Capital

Information Technology

8. BPM VIEWPOINT: The Opportunity in Unstructured Business Process Management (ActionBase)

9. Cordys Process Factorytrade; Wins Best Cloud Management Solution

10. Leading Industry Analyst Positions Magic Software in Three Quadrant Reports on Application Infrastructure

11. ClickSoftware launches new system for customer interaction management

12. Kontera and Advertising

Telecom

13. Which companies will Nortel take down in its crash?

14. Skuku Embeds GIPS VoiceEngine

15. AudioCodes Announces Availability of VoIPerfect and High Definition VoIP on MIPS Technologies’ Cores

Miscellaneous

16. Michigan, Israeli companies share business growth ideas

17. Peres invites new envoys to join science and tech R&D council

18. Social Search Engine Delver On Death Watch