Tech Roundup / Golan the cheap cable guy, he promises
Telefonica pulls plug on Jajah services; Year-old startup wins MasterCard contest.
Golan the cheap cable guy? Multichannel television may be the next arena to open to competition, following the advent of low-cost cellular communications. Moreover, the same people are involved. Michael Golan of Golan Telecom, a pioneer of discount mobile communications in both France and Israel, is vowing to compete with Israel’s two cable-TV companies, Yes and HOT, at a fraction of the price. He’s the second to throw his hat into the ring: first was Rami Levy, a pioneer in heavy-discount shopping in Israel. “It’s serious and it will happen,” an industry insider said of the Levy TV venture, predicting its advent in two months. Stay tuned.
Share and share 4G alike: Apropos the cellular pack, Golan does have one thing in common with not-discount-mobile operators Cellcom and Pelephone: the three are negotiating to share a cutting-edge 4G network, Cellcom advised investors last week. It clarified that talks are at an early stage and there’s no guarantee the regulator will allow the sharing, anyway. But, Cellcom points out, being able to share a network would save each of them hundreds of millions of shekels. Rival not-discount-companies HOT and Partner Communications have the same agreement in place.
Toshiba setting up Israeli RD center on corporate relics: Toshiba is setting up a research division in Israel on the remains of flash memory maker OCZ Technology, which the Japanese giant bought in a state of bankruptcy. For $35 million, Toshiba is getting OCZ’s consumer and enterprise activities as well as its R&D facilities in Israel and England, which are working on controllers and software. So why did OCZ go bust? Prices in the industry dropped, for one thing, says its CEO Ralph Schmidt. By the way, OCZ’s 20-man R&D operation in Israel was based on an acquisition of its own made just last year, of Sanrad, a member of the RAD group of companies.
Year-old startup wins MasterCard contest: CallVU, a fledgling startup that enhances mobile calls to call centers with visual aspects, has won the MasterCard Israel Technology contest. In its perennial search for startups in payments technology, MasterCard sponsors this annual event, in which over 40 startups competed this year. Founded in 2012, CallVU made an interface to ensure that the caller gets relevant information in a clear manner. The prize is $25,000, on top of which CallVU gets incubator services from the Citi Technology Innovation Center in Tel Aviv. It also gets one year free admission to the Israel Advanced Technology Industries umbrella organization.
Telefonica pulls plug on Jajah service: Having bought Jajah for $207 million in 2010, Telefonica is terminating the Israeli startup’s service, as of January 31. Meaning: You won’t be able to call or send data through Jajah from that day. Just last May Telefonica – one of the biggest providers of mobile services in the world - said it was rebranding the Israeli company as “Telefonica Digital Israel.” Nu. The Jajah team will however be staying on with Telefonica, working on R&D.
FDA approves hepatitis C pill: U.S. regulators on Friday approved Gilead Sciences’ Sovaldi as a treatment for chronic infection hepatitis C. The once-a-day pill is the first approved to treat certain types of hepatitis C viral infection without the need for interferon, an injected drug that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. Don’t take that to mean that Sovaldi can be used alone: it is just one component of a combo-antiviral regimen. Hepatitis C is not rare: some 4 million Americans have been diagnosed with the disease, which destroys the liver and in recent years has caused more deaths than AIDS. Gilead is a biotechnology company located in the U.S. – its name sounds Israeli but it isn’t. It “grew up” under the wing of Menlo Ventures, which also…
Menlo finances debugger: The venture capital fund Menlo has pledged $4.5 million to Takipi, an Israeli startup developing a bug-locating system for companies offering online and mobile services. How does this year-old startup do it? The Takipi software monitors the way software code runs on the service vendor’s server over time and locates problems. For instance, it might bring the developer’s notice to an unusual number of reversions to a given function. The company’s product has been undergoing closed beta testing for half-a-year and is expected to launch by year-end.
With Amitai Ziv, Orr Hirschauge, Amir Teig