TechNation: Haim Saban Launches Venture Capital Fund

YouAppi secures $13.1 million for mobile-ad platform; Siemplify raises $4 million for cybersecurity; Siano put into receivership after demand for its chips evaporates.

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Haim Saban.
Haim Saban.Credit: Alon Ron

Haim Saban launches venture capital fund

Haim Saban, the Israeli-American media magnate who may be best known for the Power Rangers franchise, on Sunday launched a $100-million venture capital fund for Israeli startups. Saban Ventures will build a portfolio of seed and early stage companies in mobile, social media and other media and content areas. Barak Pridor, former CEO of the Tel Aviv-based Thomson Reuters tech subsidiary ClearForest, will manage the fund. “We are open to investment in Israeli companies or companies linked to Israel or Israelis,” Pridor said. “Saban is a winning combination — a partner with deep pockets, patience and the ability to open doors and access markets.” Saban, whose holdings include Partner Communications, invested in a handful of startups through his Saban Capital Group, including $15 million in PlayBuzz, before deciding to create a dedicated VC fund. (Amitai Ziv)

YouAppi secures $13.1 million for mobile-ad platform

YouAppi, whose platform helps companies acquire users through mobile ads and analytics, said last week it raised $13.1 million from a group of investors led by Asian investors. China’s Hawk Ventures and Japan’s Global Brain were joined by Click Ventures, Digital Future, Emery Capital and Altair Capital as well as existing investors Glilot Capital Partners, 2B Angels and Flint Capital. That brought total fundraising since the company was founded in 2011 to $18.1 million. YouAppi said the proceeds would be used for global expansion, particular in Asia, as well as to move its headquarters to San Francisco and enhance its OneRun product. In China, where the company said it hopes to double its share of global sales to 20% this year, it is working with leading companies like Baidu and Alibaba. CEO Moshe Vaknin told the technology website TechCrunch he expected YouAppi to be profitable by August and to raise more money before the end of 2016. (TheMarker Staff)

Siemplify raises $4 million for cybersecurity

The U.S.-Israeli cybersecurity startup Siemplify emerged from stealth mode last week, unveiling its first product and revealing that it had raised $4 million from investors that include 83North Venture Capital. Siemplify’s platform reduces the time between identifying and resolving a cyberattack using real-time graph analysis and methodologies gained from military intelligence. Siemplify said pilots are under way at several Fortune 50 financial services companies, while early adopters of the technology include Israel’s largest banks and telecommunications and pharmaceutical companies. Siemplify’s founding team — Amos Stern, Alon Cohen and Garry Fatakhov — spent more than a decade in an elite technology unit of Israeli intelligence before setting up the company. Other investors include David Strohm, a partner at the U.S. venture capital fund Greylock Partners, and Alex Pinchev, president of global sales and marketing at Rackspace. (TheMarker Staff)

Siano put into receivership after demand for its chips evaporates 

Siano, which was developing chips to enable mobile devices to receive television broadcasts, went into receivership earlier month after burning through $112 million of capital. Ronen Matari, a lawyer who was appointed Siano’s receiver by the Tel Aviv District Court, is retaining 11 employees while searching for buyers for the company’s assets. At its peak, from 2006 to 2009, Siano had a staff of 100 and annual sales of $20 million, but the transition to fourth-generation smartphone technology, with better video quality, undercut demand for its semiconductors. Siano’s investors, which included Jerusalem Venture Partners, DFJ Tamir Fishman Venture and Bessemer Venture Partners, decided not to put additional capital into the company, forcing it into insolvency in October. Viola Credit sought a windup order to recover a $10-million loan it made to the company. Siano, which had sought to redirect its technology into medical applications, declined to comment. (Inbal Orpaz)