Tech Roundup

HP Blew Jail Job, Charges Parliamentarian

Ex-IDF hackers used to wage cyber war; Dankner leaves Cellcom board; Google gets Waze tax bill.

Comptroller accuses HP of doing lousy job: Last Wednesday the State Control Committee of the Knesset discussed the creation of a computer system for the prisons system, during which meeting Amnon Cohen of Shas waxed irate at Hewlett Packard: “HP utterly failed in building the computer system, dragged out the time” and cost the government a fortune, he accused, elaborating: “They apply for every tender but don’t know how to do every job.” The state winds up paying company to learn on the job, he charged, “and in the end we have no system.” The Israel Prison Service published its tender for a new computer system, called Kidma (Progress) in 2006, and signed with HP in October 2007. The budget was 43 million shekels ($12.34 million) and the ultimate cost about 144 million – figures that turned out not to include maintenance. The project also took twice as long as projected, the state says; certain parts were never completed (one of the four systems ordered was never provided); and finally the contract with HP was terminated. Cohen accused the Finance Ministry of not doing its homework. HP rebutted that it was surprised that it was not invited to participate in the discussion of the situation, and present its point of view on certain matters that it feels were misrepresented. The company adds that it has a long history of successful projects for both the private and government sectors in Israel.

Cyberwar boot camp? An Israeli company is using ex-Israeli Defense Forces hackers to train companies against cyber-attacks, CNN reported. In Cybergym, located on a farm between Tel Aviv and Haifa, private companies’ cyber warriors are challenged with simulations of real-world (or real-virtual world) scenarios, designed to help them contain both state and individual hostile hacking attempts.

Nochi Dankner leaves Cellcom board: Last Thursday Cellcom advised investors that Nochi Dankner had stepped down from its board of directors, following the court ruling that Dankner’s business group IDB would be sold to others. Dankner had bought Cellcom for IDB in October 2005 in a leveraged buyout of Bellsouth and the Safra family.

Chinese company buys Nextec: Shenzhen-based manufacturer Han’s Laser has acquired 13-year-old Nextec Technologies of Tirat Hacarmel, which designs and implements smart visual metrology and quality-control systems for high-precision manufacturing. Han’s Laser didn’t mention sums but industry sources believe it paid between $5 million to $10 million. Nextec sells its products chiefly to vehicle and aerospace manufacturers.

Registration starts for JVP cyber contest: JVP has begun registering startups for its cyber competition, which awards the winner $1 million in exchange for 35% of the startup’s shares. Contenders have until February 7 to register. The three companies that make the finals get tickets to attend the San Francisco RSA data security conference and the winner – announced during RSA – joins the JVP cyber incubator in Be'er Sheva.

Yotpo raises $10.7 million: In its first financing round, Yotpo scored a neat $10.7 million to continue its development of platforms for businesses that are aimed to draw attention by getting users to write product reviews (“We enable shops to generate more reviews for their products, and present them beautifully”). Yotpo says its platform is in use on 30,000 websites. It will be using the money also to double the existing 22-person staff, working in Tel Aviv and San Francisco.

Israeli firm develops new imaging technology: Local firm Realview has developed 3D holographic imaging technology that allows doctors to see a patient’s anatomy “floating” in mid-air during real-time medical procedures. Realview’s co-founder Shaul Gelman says the system combines data received from X-ray, MRI or ultrasound imaging, reproduced as a 3D hologram and projected in mid-air. The commercial launch is scheduled for 2015.

Google to pay Israel 800-million shekel tax on Waze acquisition: Google will pay 800 million shekels ($230 million) in taxes on its acquisition of crowd-sourced navigational app Waze’s intellectual property rights. Combined with the more than 500 million shekels Waze shareholders and employees already paid in taxes following Google’s $966 million acquisition of the company last June, Israel is expected to earn 1.3 billion shekels in tax revenue on the deal. This is the second-largest amount the state has ever received in tax revenue generated by a merger, the highest being Warren Buffett’s acquisition of Iscar, which brought the state 1.8 billion shekels in tax revenue.

Limor Edrey