Oligarch Roman Abramovich Leads $21m Investment in Startup AnyClip

Separately, $20m round raised by Bkstg, a platform for linking performers and fans.

Inbal Orpaz
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Roman Abramovich, worth $14.2 billion.Credit: Reuters
Inbal Orpaz

Russian-British billionaire Roman Abramovich is deepening his presence in Israeli high-tech, leading a $21 million investment round in the start-up AnyClip Media.

Abramovich, the 12th richest person in Russia and owner of Britain’s Chelsea Football Club, has already put money into a host of Israeli startups, including the smartphone battery developer StoreDot, music startup Music Messenger, the ride-share app Via and AcousticEye, which has developed advanced technology for inspecting pipes and tubes.

Abramovich has also invested in the investment platform iAngels, which enlists well-heeled private investors to find startups to invest in.

He joined the AnyClip round through his Ervington Investments. Other investors included the content delivery firm Limelight Networks and a group of existing investors that included Jerusalem Venture Partners and GTI, the investment vehicle for Mickey Schulhof, former president of Sony America.

Separately, Ron Harnevo, who was the highest ranking Israeli executive at AOL before he stepped down last October, said he had raised $20 million for Bkstg, a platform that links musicians to their fans. Harnevo is joining the company, which was conceived by Ori Birnbaum and Ron Zuckerman, as CEO.

The double-digit financing rounds come amid an unusually strong year for Israeli startups, which raised a combined $994 million in the first quarter of this year, just short of the $1.1 billion they raised in the final three months of 2014, the highest total in a decade. Last week Birnbaum and Zuckerman raised $40 million for their media app platform WhipClip.

AnyClip, whose technology enables content owners, advertisers and publishers to distribute video to targeted audiences across over 200,000 sites, said it would use the proceeds to bolster the business, including hiring 100 new staff – four fifths of them in Israel – double the number it has now.

The technology news site Xconomy said AnyClip would be reopening its New York office and expanding its presence in the United States.

“Combined with the increased growth in mobile video and OTT solutions, we are positioned at the center of the fastest-growing sector of the advertising industry,” said AnyClip CEO Oren Nauman, who cited a study by the Interactive Advertising Bureau saying that digital video ad forecasting spending will increase 46% this year to $10.3 billion.

The company was founded in 2008 by Erel Margalit, the founder of Jerusalem Venture Partners and now a Knesset member, and Schulhof. It launched its first product two years ago and has previously raised $10 million. AnyClip doesn’t release financial information, but said its revenues are in the tens of millions of dollars annually.

Formed at the end of last year, Bkstg is designed to allow performers to form a direct connection with fans, enabling them to send music and sell related products and content directly, rather than through intermediaries who capture most of the profits. The issue, said Harnevo, was recently in the headlines when singer Taylor Swift battled Apple Music over royalties for music streaming.

The startup’s first product, a mobile app, will be launched in the fourth quarter. Meantime, Bkstg will be working to form relationships with performers with established fan bases, he said. The company already employs 40 people in New York, Los Angeles and Kiev.

Backers include artist-management companies like Modest Management and Live Nation, as well as venture capitalists like Lerer Hippeau Ventures and Deep Fork Capital.