Israel Innovation 2.0

Inside Israeli Technology

Browsing Posts tagged Walla!

The main headlines coming from Israel’s hi-tech scene during the week of June 15, 2008 were primarily related to water technology and future investments in Israel. It was announced that Los Angeles joined Israel on water research and Germany-based RWE made a bid for Israel’s Negev solar plant. The MSCI index announced that it will be upgrading Israel from an emerging market to a developed one, joining the ranks of the United States and the UK among others. While being considered “developed” sounds nice, Israel will now be vying against these more established economies for funds. Although this was covered extensively in the media around the world (and is covered in it’s own section on this list), there were plenty of other Israel technology-related headlines from the past week. Check out the full list of this week’s 21 Israel-related technology headlines below:

Cleantech
BP seeks more Israeli cleantech investment

Arison’s water venture gets name, launch date

Environmentalists unite against Red-Dead canal

Los Angeles and Israel to cooperate on water research

RWE reportedly makes bid for Negev

Investments (VC)
Neocleus Raises Over $11M in Series B Financing

Get with the consumer program, say Israeli VCs

Tax breaks urged for venture lending cos

Redpoint Gets Some Answers

Investments (Israeli Market)
A worrying look at the future of Israeli hi-tech

Markets slide on financial, oil fears

High-tech industry sees slowdown loom

Tel Aviv Bourse to Stay Independent, Forgo Alliances, CEO Says

Israel, S. Korea Have Emerged

Information Technology
Amdocs and IBM Introduce Unified Data Management Solution

Magic Software Nominated for SYS-CON’s “SOA World Magazine Readers’ Choice Awards”

ICQ – Ten Years After

Miscellaneous
Israeli telecom start-ups find success in Asian road show

TI in Israel says it “believes in fabs”

Walla! gains on Google

Partner launches video-on-demand service

About the author: Lisa Damast is the Membership
Manager of ebizQ.net and currently resides in Israel. Any questions or
inquiries regarding this blog or ebizQ membership services can be
directed to her via email at ldamast (at) ebizq (dot) net. She can also be followed on Twitter, where she covers additional Israeli technology companies and Israel-related headlines and topics.

Tim Berners-Lee, the father of the World Wide Web, recently mentioned in his blog that social networking on the Web is providing people with the opportunity to share data about themselves and things related to them for the interest of others (i.e., for connecting to others). He explains though that the popularity of these social networks hide the reality of people using these closed sites not for the sites themselves but for the opportunities and connections that they provide them.

For those who aren’t familiar with Israeli society, it tends to pride itself on giving advice and having connections (protexia). The connection of people and information are strong values that are practically innate in Israelis and has probably contributed to Israel’s high-tech sector being very active in the Web 2.0 phenomena — so active, that I have been thinking ever since Daniel Cohen’s Israei Nokia article that if all these Israeli companies were pooled, Israel could have countered Google or created its own Facebook.

Unfortunately, it’s a lot easier said than done or even fully imagined. However, with Berners-Lee talking about the Giant Global Graph and the need to transcend the limits of the current social networking graph, maybe there is still the chance that Israel will build the next big networking phenomena. Israeli companies just have to think outside the box of the Web and the set up of social networks as we know it.

For anyone who wants to get started on this, here’s a list of some of the top Israeli Web 2.0 companies that offer interactive services that if were combined in a new way, I think could create the next big thing:

Fun:
Aniboom- Users can create animated clips, post clips, view clips here, and based on the popularity of content that you post, you have the chance to make some money as well.

Metacafe- A user-driven video-sharing site that shows only entertaining short clips that is first reviewed by users before it gets posted on the site. Program creators of the most popular content get paid.

BlogTV- For anyone who has something to share via video. This gives you the chance to create your own live channel on anything you want.

Search and Information:
Walla!- An Internet portal with free email for anyone, this is the first stop for local information and direction on the Web.

Answers.com- Formerly with the tag line, the encyclodictionalmanacapedia, Answers.com is a one stop information engine. It’s popular wikiAnswers allows users to post and answer questions on anything they might be wondering.

Collaboration and work environment:
eSnips- While it is great for its music features, eSnips’ 5GB storage gives users a way to easily store and share documents on the Web.

ooVoo- 6-way video conferences, video messaging and video chatrooms make this ideal for live video communication for business or for fun.

Verix- Offers solutions for Business Intelligence when it comes to sales.

Advertising:
Kontera- “Kontera is a leading provider of In-Text Advertising and Information Services based on patent- pending text and content analysis technology that maximizes relevancy and yield for online users, publishers, and advertisers.”

TVinci - “The TVinci media management platform helps video content owners, broadcasting channels and publishers enrich, socialize and personalize video content, while maximizing monetization.”


Hiro Media
- Hiro’s ad-supported video downloading technology allows any video distributor to allow the unlimited sharing of its product over the Internet with the ability to monetize it. monetized.

A few weeks ago, the Globes reported that the video service, ooVoo.com is “in negotiations to produce original Israeli content for its website, and on websites of prominent Israeli broadcasters.” The company is interested in spending $500,000 on the project. Not surprisingly, ooVoo’s technology was developed in Israel, so it makes sense that it wants to develop Israeli content.

The plan will include “very high quality video and audio chat rooms about Israeli and international celebrities.” When contemplating the current nature of video on the Internet (Skype, YouTube, Ve-Oh, BlogTV, Walla), live video and audio chat rooms is a new concept that none of these sites have really explored or fully embraced. It will be interesting to see how this proposed project fares with Israeli users and how other sites will integrate this in the future.

If you want to learn more about ooVoo, there are a bunch of videos currently floating around on YouTube. Below is one I found from Kiwibox.com on YouTube that shows ooVoo in action at the Digital Life Expo a few weeks ago.

For more on other online video-related activities by Israeli companies and how what ooVoo is doing differs, check out the following past posts of mine:
VON Israel and the future of VoIP
First online TVPC network? RayV
Israeli TV on the Internet: Ahead of the curve
Company in Focus: Walla Communications Ltd

News:
According to a Globes article, Israeli Internet portal, Walla! is continuing to lose ground to the most viewed site in Israel, Google Israel.

Background:
Walla! was started in 1995 by Erez Philosoph and Gadi Hadar as an index of Internet sites. Today it is an Internet portal that offers news coverage of Israel and the rest of the world as well as additional original content in all of its portal fields. After going public on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) in 1998, Walla! worked with mobile carrier, Partner to create the first wireless portal for smartphone users in Israel in 1999 and merged with Israel On Line (IOL) in 2001. For several years, Walla! was the most visited website in Israel until Google past it last year.

Analysis: Walla! is the Israeli version of Yahoo!

In an entry posted earlier this year, Darnell Clayton of IsraGood alluded to Walla’s heading for the fate of becoming the Israeli version of Yahoo! I strongly agree that Walla’s history mimics Yahoo’s in several ways.

Since it tried preempting Google’s Gmail with its own free 1G e-mail account for users worldwide in 2004, Walla! has placed itself as a direct competitor to Google and has allowed its users to associate and compare its service with that of Google’s. So far, we all know who won that battle.

During that battle, Walla’s claim was that as Gmail was just starting, it would focus more on text and basics in email, whereas Walla’s email service was more established and allowed multimedia in addition to text in its email. Despite that campaign not working out, Walla’s most recent announcement is once again a multimedia claim.

According to a Globes article earlier this month, Walla! has launched a new “Video Talkback” feature to provide viewers with “the option of responding with video clips to programs and items appearing on the website.” What impact this will have on users on the site and if it will attract more viewers will need to be seen.

However, the marketing and target audience for it might be a little more different this time. Last week, a posting was sent to the Digital Eve Israel listserv about an opening at the company for an English-speaking marketing communications manager with a reply address to international marketing at the company. What Walla’s marketing department has planned for the next few months in response to Google Israel’s gaining ground and in support of its new “Video Talkback” technology will certainly determine whether Walla! can catch up to and possibly overthrow Google Israel and regain its title as most-viewed site or if it really will become the Israeli version of Yahoo!