Tech roundup / Forecast: Geo-tag flurries with a chance of cash flow
An interactive map of new Israeli companies shows a frisky high-tech scene.
Literally on the map
Ben Lang is very young, even by the standards of the high-tech industry. A mere 18 years old, Lang is nevertheless quickly becoming known as one of Israel's youngest and most phenomenal entrepreneurs. Lang, an Israeli-American, put himself on the map quite literally last month when – during leave from the army - he created the interactive Israeli Start-Up Map [http://mappedinisrael.com/], a Google Maps-style site that shows the location of Israeli start-ups. It's sort of a visual version for Dan Senor and Saul Singer's popular book "Start-Up Nation" at a glance.
You can use the map to view, click on and obtain information on some 600 Israeli start-ups. That's less than one-fifth of the estimated 3,500 to 5,000 start-ups operating in Israel, but it serves to show just how robust our tech scene is. The industry hubs of Tel Aviv and Herzliya are teeming with red geo-tags. Zoom out just a bit, and it looks as if these areas as literally being swamped by the red, balloon-shaped tags.
Along Tel Aviv's Rothschild Boulevard and surrounding streets, the mile-long stretch comprising Israel's hottest start-up zone, no fewer than 50 firms pop up.
Among them are The Gift's Project, a hip young start-up currently functioning as eBay's social R&D center after being purchased for about $25 million; BillGuard, a crowd-sourced service that can help you lower your bills; Loudlee, a Web service that transforms your Facebook feed into an online radio program based on your friends' status updates; and Face.com, a start-up that is developing facial recognition technology that may shake up the way we all tag photographs online. Rumor has it that Face.com is set to be acquired by Facebook for a cool $100 million.
All of these businesses operate just a few buildings from one another.
Acquisition of developers from Wisair
Scroll up to Ramat HaHayal, a high-tech industrial park in the north of Tel Aviv, and again a blur of red geo-tags pops up. This week's crop of start-ups in the Ramat HaHayal scene includes the "acquisition" of 26 developers from Wisair, a company that develops computer chips for wireless data transmission. Wisair's technology didn't take off but its developers have found a happy new home in global chip giant Broadcom, which already owns 10 Israeli companies.
Going further north, the next dense cluster is to be found in Herzliya, home to many of Israel's venture capital funds. It's also the site of Anobit, a flash memory developer, which in late 2011 was announced as Apple's first large R&D center outside of the U.S. Apple acquired the Israeli company for $390 million.
The company's integration into Apple is still ongoing, and as part of the effort Apple's officials recently made a surprise visit to Israel's Tax Authority. The goal was to reverse the authority's decision to tax Anobit's employees as 48% on their options. The Tax Authority is said to have made some concessions.