Alefo Launches Beta Site

Alefo is a new Israeli startup launched yesterday that wants to replace services such as iGoogle and Netvibes as your personal aggregator. The site essentially allows you to copy your favorite widgets, RSS feeds, and even what it calls “site shots” or pieces of other websites, and paste them onto an ultimate personal homepage.

According to Globes, the company was founded in 2005 and has attracted investors such as Alon Carmel of JDate. It has raised hundred of thousands to date through partnerships with various entrepreneurs, and is currently seeking to raise an additional $3.5 million.

Members of the Alefo team are ecstatic. In the article they claim their product will change the way people surf the net and search for relevant information. “We want to be every internet user’s personal homepage,” says one of the founders.

I tested the service and built my own page, as you can see below. Kinks do exist, like when I couldn’t disengage the pointer from one of the windows. The founders do acknowledge that these will be worked out eventually. While I’m not sure that I would use it in its current form, the service does seem pretty cool.

Alefo aims to eventually use its services in cellphones, where the ability to aggregate your favorite sites and widgets onto one central page can be especially useful. It will raise revenues using text-supported ads like AdSense.

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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.

MGIC to Invest in “New Google”

MGIC Plc is a new Israeli investment company that aims to find the “new google” by investing $100-300 thousand in Web 2.0 startups that are 6 – 9 months away from generating revenue. The founders include the founder of JDATE, Alon Carmel, the former British Ambassador to Israel Sir Andrew Burns, and Amir Raveh from MG Equity. According to Raveh:

“Internet companies and Web 2.0 businesses in particular are being targeted for investment and acquisition. We will invest in businesses with solid business models 6 – 9 months from revenue and the potential to appeal to significant, distinct markets with their technology or market innovation. We believe that the next generation of billion dollar Internet companies are taking their first steps on the path to being major acquisitions in the future.”

The fund is trying to raise approximately $3.5 million which it will invest in ten promising Israeli start-ups. In addition to the money they will also provide business, commercial and marketing guidance to help them reach the next rounds of financing.

For more info check out this article from City A.M. or this one (in Hebrew) from The Marker.