Mystery Startup Libox Scores $1M

Some startups are best kept secret.  Like Ctrue, little is know about Libox.  It was founded last year by Erez Pilosof, a serial entrepreneur who worked at Walla!, and has now received $1 million in seed-stage funding from Evergreen Venture Partners and a couple other private investors.  IVC says Libox “is developing an innovative Internet platform which is aimed at end-users.”

According to Haaretz, Pilosof hopes the platform will compete with Google, Microsoft, Apple and “the rest of the big boys.”  The company, which has five employees and is recruiting five more, is in the process of registering a patent, after which it will reveal its “ambitious” activity. 

While the team stays in Israel, Pilosof himself is moving to Silicon Valley.  The co-founder of Walla! is also a partner in, a social-sharing entertainment site in development.


Texas and Cleantech

Startech Early Ventures is trying to connect between Israeli hi-tech and Texas investors, according to Globes.  Similar to Virginia’s Gateway America (which I mentioned in an earlier post), Startech is aiming to help Texas boost trade relations with Israel and capitalize on Israel’s robust growth in the technology sector.

The VC has just hosted the “largest-ever delegation of Israeli high-tech companies to visit Texas” in a series of meetings and workshops held over a three day period.  The Texas government, academics and investors see viable partnerships where “Texan high-tech centers could be an excellent springboard into the US market for Israeli companies.”

Matthew Blanton, Startech’s founder, said the visit “opened the eyes of both sides. Unfortunately, many Texans think that Israel is a big desert full of camels. Texans who have never been exposed to Israel learned from this delegation the fact that if there are any camels in Israel, it does not contradict the fact that it is a high-tech powerhouse and great source of innovation.” 

He added that “large parts of the US that are suffering from prolonged droughts, especially Texas, could become attractive markets for innovative Israeli water technology companies.”

In other cleantech related news, Jonathan Shapira and Gene Dolgin of Israel Cleantech Ventures are hosting the second Cleantech Israel meetup on April 29.  The pair see a lack of government assistance, a paucity of networking opportunities and lots of cleantech-related research in Israel as ample justification for the event.  This meetup will include, among other things, a presentation by co-CEO Alon Tamari of  SolarPower Ltd.  For more info see here.

IBM Acquires Storage Startup Filesx

IBM is on a rampage.  After scooping up XIV, partnering with Siverge and now talking with Ctrue and Diligent Technologies, it has now signed an agreement to buy FilesX, an Israeli data-recovery startup founded in 2000.  The startup’s flagship technology, Xpress Restore, allows instant recovery of critical systems, servers and applications to any point-in-time.

According to Globes, IBM is paying $70-90 million for FilesX whose technology it will incorporate into its Tivoli Storage Manager family of products, IBM’s flagship suite of data protection and information infrastructure offerings.  “With its patented technology, FilesX helps IT staff restore data from virtually any type of failure and from nearly any point in time. FilesX offerings may be particularly attractive in environments where IT skills and budgets are limited, as it is considered easy to use and offers self-managing features.”

Al Zollar, general manager of Tivoli software, IBM, said the acquisition would “complement IBM’s vision of enterprise data protection by adding critical capabilities for remote offices, delivering continuous data protection for applications and servers, and supporting business user needs with nearly instantaneous recovery of data,” . 

FilesX, which is now headquartered in Newton, Massachusetts, initially raised $20 million from Benchmark Capital, Genesis Partners, and Index Ventures. 

Check out the press release for more details.

$20M for Provigent in Fourth Round of Financing

Provigent, a leading provider of System-on-a-Chip (SoC) solutions for the broadband wireless transmission market, announced today that it has increased its fourth round of financing to $20 million.

The privately-owned company, which was founded in Israel in 2000 but is now headquartered in the U.S., makes products that “enable system vendors to rapidly develop cost-effective high performance broadband wireless transmission systems.” Their SoCs “offer an unparalleled combination of increased bandwidth, extended range and enhanced flexibility while lowering overall system costs.”

Their hottest product is the PVG310, “a complete state-of-the-art single chip modem that integrates all the physical-layer baseband functionality – modulation, demodulation and forward error correction – for point-to-point broadband wireless transmission.”

Ray Stata, who raised his equity fund’s initial investment from $1 to $4 million, said that Provigent’s “consistently growing and strong customer base is constant validation of its leading position as the merchant silicon provider in this growing market.”

CEO Dan Charash added that the “successful round of funding will enable Provigent to further accelerate its roadmap and market penetration.” “With an established economy of scale, significant R&D investments and a focused dedication to the broadband wireless transmission industry, Provigent continues to establish itself as the market’s leading SoC provider.

Other investors in Provigent include some of the biggest names in venture capital from Israel and abroad, including Sequoia Capital, Pitango Venture Capital and Dr. Andrew Viterbi, co-founder of QUALCOMM.

Check out the press release for more.

Coming Soon: Spikko’s Free Phone Service

Spikko is a three-year-old Israeli startup that claims to have developed a way to offer free telephone services between any mobile phone or land line and any other phone anywhere in the world. The service is now in beta mode but CEO Shai Gilboa says the service will be launched globally in the very near future.

The company’s website, which is in Hebrew only, offers little about the technology itself but claims that altruistic concerns for the “little guy” paying for the big profits of a few large telephone companies has driven it to create an entirely free telephone service using VoIP internet technology.

The service is currently limited to members, and to become a member you must be invited by another member. Once invited you receive a unique telephone number and a special software download which allows you to make seven minutes worth of outgoing calls to a mobile device anywhere and 30 minutes to any land line. However, anyone anywhere can call you and talk for free for an unlimited amount of time by dialing your unique number. For every minute of incoming call time you receive one minute of outgoing call time. Also for every minute of call time that a friend that you invited makes you receive 12 seconds of outgoing call time.

Additionally, all text messages are free, so you can text your friends and ask them to call you back, and incoming callers can leave voice messages. The number of outgoing minutes will increase based on the number of members, which is currently 50,000. While the company doesn’t state how this all works, the model is apparently similar to virtual mobile operators who trade in airtime. How is this different from Skype? Skype offline calls are not free. Gilboa says the company has a revenue-generation model in place but doesn’t disclose details.

Investors in Spikko include the founder of JDate Alon Carmel, who serves as Spikko chairman and business development and marketing manager, and UK real estate tycoon Igal Ahouvi, who invested $1 million, which, according to Globes, will be used to launch the company’s service internationally.

Guiness World Records: Modu is Lightest Phone Ever

modu.jpgModu, which recently raised $100 million, has just been named the world’s lightest mobile phone by the Guiness Book of World Records: It weighs 40.1g (1.41 oz.) and its dimensions are 72.1 mm (2.8 inches) x 37.6 mm (1.4 inches) x 7.8 mm (0.3 inches).

Throughout Modu’s design process the emphasis has been on keeping the phone small, light and compact, according to the press release, so that it can be slipped into the various “jackets” it is intended for. Despite being miniature and minimalist, the phone still offers all the functions and capabilities of a normal-sized handset.

Zack Weisfeld, VP Marketing, said: “The Guinness World Record is a great achievement for a team that has worked tirelessly to take Modu from the drawing board to producing full working devices in less than a year. From the outset, Modu’s tiny dimensions and super light weight have been fundamental to delivering the disruptive, modular communication concept that Modu embodies.

“With Modu, the mobile phone can now be added to the list of ‘invisible’ items that people carry with them wherever they go, such as a bunch of keys, their wallet and their watch.”