Tech roundup / HOT Mobile offering kosher phones
Palo Alto Networks buys Cyvera; FTBpro raises $18 million; Waze faces class action; Intel investing $15m in Israeli startup’s smartglasses.
HOT Mobile offering kosher phones
It isn’t first or even second, but HOT Mobile is leaping into the kosher-mobile phone market. The company received the approval of the rabbinical committee for communications – there is such a thing – to market its kosher phones with a special area code, namely 053-31. HOT is offering two packages: “unlimited kosher” for 49 shekels a month, which is just for calls, given that Haredim are prohibited from texting, web-chatting or surfing Internet anyway, and “No talk, no pay.” No talk, zero pay – but if you do talk it will cost 13 agorot a minute. What is a kosher mobile phone? It has no entertainment functionality and you can’t surf.
Palo Alto Networks buys Cyvera
Santa Clara-based Palo Alto Networks closed the deal to buy Israeli startup Cyvera, agreeing to pay about $200 million in stock and shares, the Mercury News reports. Palo Alto Networks, founded by Nir Zuk, makes firewalls, while Cyvera focuses on frustrating hackers. While Cyvera is technically located in San Francisco, 34 of its 38 employees work out of its Tel Aviv research and development center.
Cellcom starts bill texting service
Cellcom is offering customers the option of seeing their bill by phone, starting in April. The company will text a link each month to a mini-site that presents an interactive bill, where the customer can see all his personal information. The app will enable the customer to view up to three past bills, including a breakdown of calls. It offers links to the Cellcom site, to download a printable PDF of the bill, to chat with a Cellcom representative, and to give feedback. Customers will need to register for the service, which they can do from now.
FTBpro raises $18 million
Media startup FTBpro, proud maker of a content platform for soccer fans to create content, has closed an $18 million financing round, bringing its total take from backers to $24 million. Its site has been quite the hit, with readership growing by 50% each quarter to a present number of about a million surfers. Another stat: it’s reached about 100 million page views a month. The usual venture capital pack was augmented by an “Asian strategic investor,” and with its proceeds, FTBpro means to open an Asian office. Some 2,000 writers publish articles on FTBpro, using the site’s advanced tools. It runs about 300 articles a day.
Waze, the class action
Waze, the Israeli navigation startup bought by Google in 2013, was hit on Thursday with a $150 million lawsuit. Filing in Tel Aviv against the company and its founders, accountant Jonathan Gorodish claims that Waze is based partly on the work of a programming community, which is entitled to half of the company’s intellectual property at the time of its sale. He also claims that Waze broke a commitment to leave its program, maps and information open to the public. Gorodish had participated in Freemap Israel, an open-source project to map the country using free software called Roadmap 1. Gorodish claims that Waze’s maps were built by daily updates by the community, not solely by Waze programmers.
Intel investing $15m in Israeli startup’s smartglasses
Two days after Facebook acquired smart glasses maker Oculus VR for $2 billion, Intel Capital is pledging $15 million into Israeli startup OrCam, which makes smart glasses for the visually impaired and blind. OrCam’s system consists of a tiny computer that clips onto a pair of glasses. Using a 5-megapixel camera, the computer employs audio feedback to relay visual information that the user can’t see. Priced at $2,500, the device can read text, and with the help of the user, can be taught to recognize faces and objects. OrCam’s system is in many ways similar to Google Glass, albeit with a much narrower application.
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