Tech Roundup / Waze gains from Apple maps mishap
FiftyOne likely to launch IPO, startups shun older tech workers
Apple's loss is Waze's gain – Apple's decision to include built-in maps and navigation services in its new iOS 6 operating system was expected to hurt Waze. But the Israeli crowd-sourced navigational start-up has only benefited from Apple’s messy move. Shortly after the launch, CEO Tim Cook was forced to apologize to hundreds of millions of Apple users around the world for the faulty map and navigation apps in the iPhone5 software. Waze registered a 40 percent increase in the number of daily downloads of its app, which serves more than 20 million users around the world, including more than 5 million in the United States alone. In contrast to Apple’s and Google's navigational apps, Waze uses data provided by users in order to map out traffic density, enabling drivers to reducer time behind the wheel.
FiftyOne likely to float – The Israeli Internet company FiftyOne is expected to go public during 2013. The company, which incorporated in the U.S., developed a system to boost global sales online for leading retailers, including Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and Barney's New York. Surfers on retail websites around the world can see the prices of goods listed in their local currency and make purchases using payment methods accepted in their countries. In addition to serving as a payment transfer clearing house, FiftyOne also handles shipping logistics for its 150 clients. The company closed 2011 with sales of $140 million, a sum that is expected to increase to $250 million in 2012. Market estimates suggest that the company will try to raise capital with an IPO that values that company at over $1 billion.
An IPO by FiftyOne would be the first by an Israeli Internet company in over a year. The past year saw jumps in market value estimates and investor curiosity in many Internet firms, but no Israeli one took the leap.
Most Israeli start-ups make it past the five-year mark – 65% of Israeli start-ups make it past their fifth year in business, according to research published by the Central Bureau of Statistics last week. This surprising figure flouts conventional wisdom. According to the venture capital model used in the high-tech industry, only two out of every 10 start-ups succeed in providing a return on their initial investment. The CBS's survey also found that the number of start-ups operating in Israel jumped by 66 percent between 2003, when the high-tech bubble burst, and 2008.
Older high-tech workers more likely to find jobs in multinationals – The local high-tech industry lacks between 8,000 and 10,000 qualified employees, according to information that emerged from a panel discussion organized by TheMarker in which five senior HR executives participated. Despite the manpower shortage, younger companies aren't willing to compromise, and continue to demand graduates from Israel's elite technological training programs. “We interview a lot, but the recruitment rates are low. Only one out of 20 passes the tests," said WatchDox VP Research and Development Amir Rapson.
At the same there is a lack of employment opportunities for high-tech workers over the age of 45. A partial solution may be found in the growing number of multinational R&D centers based in Israel. Joel Norton, human resources manager for HP Israel, said that more than a quarter of the 6,000 workers at HP's R&D centers in Israel are above the age of 45.
While Israel may be known as the start-up nation, it is also a major research and development center for multinational tech companies like HP. Some 39 percent of Israeli research and development employees work in 52 of these R&D centers belonging to multi-national corporations like Intel, Google, Microsoft, Broadcom, Qualcomm and, most recently, Apple. “The presence of these R&D centers attests that this area of activity is developed and has gained the critical mass needed for a well-established industry,” according to the Central Bureau of Statistics report published last week.