Last week was marked by small amounts of fundraising, tsuris at Teva and domination games morphing to mobile. Here are some of the week's more eye-catching developments in the Israeli tech scene.
Desalitech raises $5 million: Startup names are such a mess. There are the sublimely shattering ones like Pubit, and the incomprehensible ones like Xoox or W3LL (that one makes makeup, not chips, but you get the idea). Desalitech deserves honorable mention just for the clarity of its name. No prizes for guessing what field this startup is in – it's working on desalination technology, and more to the point wrapped up a $5 million financing round, its third, last week. Its backers include Liberation Capital, a vehicle of former General electric people. Desalitech has developed a closed-circuit reverse-osmosis desalination system that can turn seawater into perfectly potable water at relatively low cost thanks to efficient use of water and electricity, it says. It also claims its process involves low waste.
Plarium morphing Domination to mobile: If gaming works online, why not on phone? And while about it, why not spell out your ambition: The Israeli technology company Plarium, which made a tidal splash on social networks with its games, is going mobile with its launch last week of Total Domination: Reborn. It's the same game Plarium released onto the social networks two years ago, which has racked up 30 million users and counting. The mobile version, which is entirely separate from the Internet one, stresses user experience, which means it can be adapted to any screen size and resolution. It took two days for Reborn to shoot to the top of Appstore's Strategy Games category.
Now if only Fido could drive: Walla Shops, the biggest e-commerce venture in Israel, is opening a line for pet supplies. Pet Shop Online has food and accessories for the pets of Israel, who are legion – 460,000 Israelis have a dog, cat or both and 110,000 more have another type of animal. Walla says the online shop has leading pet product brands for cats and dogs, including Nutra Nuggets, Eukanuba, Le Cat and more, not to mention kitty litter. All areas of Israel are served and the prices are "the cheapest" per kilo, the company claims. What's new when most pet stores bigger than a mom & pooch corner store have websites? Nothing beyond price, perhaps, but Walla Shops CEO Sigal Caspi says it's an NIS 2 billion a year market featuring customers with rigid shopping habits, and none of the competing e-commerce empires in Israel had thought to target pets. Do note the delivery fee. It isn't free. Or you could pick it up yourself and save that money.
Moody's frowns on Teva: Some analysts are starting to look askance at Teva Pharmaceutical Industries after the Israeli generics giant agreed to pay a cool $1.6 billion to Pfizer for infringing its rights related to heartburn medicine Protonix. Moody's downgraded its outlook from Stable to Negative last week based on expectations that Teva will have to borrow more money to make the payment, at a time that profit is under pressure, the credit rating agency explained. Then there's the competition Teva may face to its blockbuster drug multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone from Biogen Idec's new baby Tecfidera, said the agency: while Copaxone is injected, Tecfidera is a pill. Patients don't like pills but they don't like shots even more.
Lucid assets sold: There are exits and there are flights for the exit. The Giza investments fund has bought the assets of Lucid Logix, after the courts named a receiver for the company in April. Giza had been just one of the hopeful backers who provided the semiconductors startup with $40 million all told. Lucid is now gone though most of its debts aren't; the funds have written off their investment. A key problem had been bugs in the chip Lucid developed to maximize the graphical capabilities of desktop computers. However, Giza and the others have formed a new vehicle also called Lucid Logix – stay with us here – which has taken on all the defunct company's workers and will continue its activity. The new Lucid is merging with CellGuide, an industry veteran dating from 1999 which has become a fabless, meaning it designs but doesn't manufacture chips.