Israel Delivers: TechnoSpin, Gizmox, Endogun, Applicure

Today Israel’s innovators made all kinds of headlines from cleantech to medical devices to software security.

Let’s start with TechnoSpin. The four year old startup has raised $8 million from US VC 21 Ventures. They develop and produce rotors for small wind turbines which, it claims, are cheaper to produce and more easily assembled than competitor’s products, and can be operated on 80% of the earth’s surface – not just in high-wind areas. TechnoSpin also develops wind turbine gears which produce torque that is then converted into electrical power. Check out an interview with the CEO, Maxim Rakov.

 

Next on the list is Gizmox. This 2006-formed web application design startup announced today that it has reached an agreement to market its software through Microsoft marketing platforms. The Maayan Ventures portfolio company will use its Ajax-based environment for running web applications to enhance Microsoft’s Visual Studio environment development partnership program.

 

Then there’s Endogun Medical Systems. The 2004-founded graduate of Meytag Technology Incubatorand now Biomedix Incubator portfolio company has announced FDA approval for its internal soft-tissue fastening solution. This procedure, a key element of many Minimally Invasive Surgeries (MIS), is difficult to perform. Endogun’s technology, apparently, makes MIS procedures more safe, effective and simpler to perform.

 

Finally, Applicure Technologies released a statement via email that it has signed an agreement with British Trafalgar Capital Management for an investment of up to $5 million over a three year period. The four year old company, which is still negotiating with other investors in Israel and abroad for additional financing, creates software-based products for web application security and database compliance.

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TuneWiki Lyric Service Raises Capital

TuneWiki, an Israeli startup founded in 2007 by two former airforce pilots and serial entrepreneurs, Amnon Sarig and Rani Cohen, recently launched a servce which allows you to listen to your music on an iPhone/iTouch and PC while scrolling the lyrics of the song in real-time.

According to TechCrunch, “The service, which was launched in December 2007, became a hit with “hundreds of thousands” of downloads to jailbroken iPhones alone (says our source), despite the very sketchy nature of the main website and the fact that only hacked iPhones can use the app.”

“A source tells us that the startup has raised an initial round of financing from Benchmark Capital’s Israel fund. General Partner Michael Eisenberg joined the board of directors. We’re still trying to track down the size of the round, and if there were any other investors.”

As far as the legal nature of publishing lyrics, the company’s website states that Universal Music has given them permission to use their lyrics, and they are trying to get permission from other publishing companies as well.

Check out this youtube video to see how it works.

A Blow for Israeli Startups? Jeff Pulver Quits PulverMedia

Jeff Pulver announced in his blog that he’s resigning as director of PulverMedia. Here’s a rough translation of Guy Grimland’s article in the Marker:

A Blow for Israeli Startups? Jeff Pulver Announces His Resignation from PulverMedia

Jeff Pulver, one of the biggest name investors in Israeli startups and a well-known figure amongst Israeli entrepreneurs, announced at the end of the week in his blog that he’s resigning.

It looks like the rumors of hard financial times at Pulver’s media company were correct. Pulver declined to explain his decision. Pulver most recently visited Israel when he participated in The Marker’s The Marker COM.VENTION. When asked, on that occasion, of the financial state of PulverMedia he also declined to comment.

The blogger Om Malik said at the end of March that TICC Capital Corporation, the investor in PulverMedia, closed the company and its bank accounts. As a result various checks the company had issued bounced. Malik points out that in a TICC statement to the SEC last March it stated that “PulverMedia forecasts a sharp decrease in revenues in the coming year.”

PulverMedia is responsible for the convention organization VON which deals with VoIP technology. A source familiar with Pulver told The Marker that in their estimation Pulver’s financial position has little to do with his investments in Israeli startups. Pulver has, to date, invested in Jerusalem Capital Ventures and in Israeli startups Kayote, Corbomite Games, Semantinet, Innovid, Urbanseeder and ZShow.

Generally, Pulver tends to invest sums ranging from $15,000 to $50,000 in seed-stage companies.

Tveez, MediaBoost and AdYouNet Score $$$

Online advertising and marketing startups are thriving in Israel and raising large amounts from VCs in the process.  Here are three that have made headlines:

Tveez Marketing Intelligence is a point-of-purchase marketing company founded in 2004 that supplies consumer-oriented companies with proactive sales and marketing management technology, enabling them to increase sales and deliver superior customer service.  They’ve recently raised $15 million, according to Haaretz, in a round led by Giza and Benchmark Capital, and include Yair Goldfinger(one of the founders of Mirabilis, developer of ICQ, sold to AOL for $400 million) amongst their founders.  Their clients include McDonald’s, 7-Eleven, HSBC and Sheraton Hotels and they’ve recently signed a $10 million deal with Citibank.  Read all about their main product, TVeezMI.

 

MediaBoost has raised $1 million from Teuza – A Fairchild Technology Venture, according to Globes, adding to the $500,000 they invested in the company last year, as part of the latest round to raise a few million dollars in financing.  The online advertising startup was founded in 2005 by CEO Alon Matasand VP Business Development Uri Shtrichman to create technologies and products that automate and optimize decision-making for online media buying.  Their group of “scientists” use tools ranging from game theory to operations research algorithms to create software which aims to improve “bottom-line profits from online campaigns.”  In 2006 they launched their flagship product, Adbooster, which is tailored specifically for advertising in Google AdWords.

 

AdYouNet Technologies is a “stealth mode” online advertising company founded in 2007 that has raised NIS 3.5 million from its current investors Xenia Venture Capital Ltd.(TASE:XENA) and NetService Ventures, according to Globes.  The startup is developing a CRM advertising application over the web that enables one-to-one identification of targeted users to deliver a tailored advertisement campaign. 

Orange Launches NewACT’s Mobile Data Service

Partner Communications Company, which operates the Orange cellphone network in Israel, has launched NewACT’s mSync-based suite of services, branding it ‘Orange Forever’, according to the press release.

The service allows subscribers to synchronize their contacts, calendar, pictures, videos and messages between their cellphone and the Orange website. Subscribers are then able to edit, manage and archive their data on the site as well as share it with other users, and restore data in case of a handset upgrade, loss or damage.

Ofir Yaffe, Head of Product Marketing at Orange Israel, said ‘orange forever’ answers a growing need for customers as mobile phones increase their content creation capabilities and continue to take on the role of storage devices.  “Serving as many mobile phones as possible and reducing the time and effort required to introduce new devices are key for our success.” NewACT’s technology “practically eliminates this effort, significantly contributing to service take up and success.”

Rafi Ton, CEO of NewACT added that the mSync suite “provides the most complete end-to-end synchronization, storage and collaboration solution for mobile operators and service providers. Combined with our unique client technology which makes this service available on virtually any mobile device, we believe this service is geared for immediate success.”

Arts Alliance Invests in Kenshoo

Ramat Gan-Based start-up Kenshoo has developed Search Engine Marketing (SEM) technology which allows automation of some of the tedious tasks involved in building online marketing campaigns. After receiving initial funding from Sequoia Capital in 2007, it has now received an additional injection of investment from Arts Alliance, a venture capital firm investing primarily in European companies.

Kenshoo’s platform, known as KENSHOO SEARCH, aims to automate and manage processes such as selecting relevant keywords, updating deep link URL’s, creating effective ads, providing and constantly updating bids, monitoring traffic, structuring cross platform campaigns and reporting and analyzing data on-time. According to their website, the platform works with the major search engines such as Google, Yahoo and MSN.

Thomas Hoegh, Managing Partner of Arts Alliance and a Board Member of Kenshoo, said they were impressed with Kenshoo’s innovative approach to search engine marketing. “This is a great team that has developed market-leading technology that solves the problems of online advertising by using a unique Quality Management approach.” He hopes the investment will help expand an already impressive list of clients.

Yoav Izhar-Prato, CEO and co-founder of Kenshoo, added that a “high calibre investor like Arts Alliance is an important endorsement of Kenshoo’s business and we believe they will be instrumental in helping Kenshoo to expand its market share both in the UK and in continental Europe.”

Check out the press release for more info.

Post Copyrighted Pics for Free with PicApp

picscout_picapp.pngUsually bloggers find images for their blogs on Google images, but these pictures are often low-quality and come in limited variety. But PicScout, the Israeli company behind online copyrighted image tracking technology ImageTracker, has now unvieled a new website called PicApp which allows any user to use copyrighted images for free.

How does this work? The images will be accompanied by ads that will provide royalty flows back to content owners or publishers. This non-traditional model of royalty flows will hopefully simplify the process of using high-quality photos in blogs and other personal and/or non-commercial websites.

PicApp stores millions of copyrighted images with thousands more updated daily from Getty Images, Corbis and other image agencies. So now a blog about, say, Britney Spears new pet panda can be accompanied by actual photos of her from this morning’s tabloids.

Eyal Gura, CEO of PicScout says “Bloggers are the new journalists and they can now get great images – and use them legally, with no charge whatsoever”…”Through PicApp, we are providing today’s new media with access to the latest images and an easy way to enrich their readers’ experience.”

PicScout’s headquarters are in San Francisco and its R&D center is in Herzliya, Israel. See the press release for more.