Tech Nation

Former PM Barak invests in a startup; China's Baidu invests in Tonara; U.S. group and BioCatch fight bank fraud.

Bloomberg

Ehud Barak invests in emergency response startup
Reporty Homeland Security, an Israeli startup that helps in the reporting of emergencies, has secured an investment from former Prime Minister Ehud Barak. The company’s technology, which can replace the traditional phone call for help, is geared to reduce the number of emergency calls that aren’t really emergencies. The technology also gives emergency workers the exact location of the person using the Reporty device, while its video capabilities let a call center see the scene of the emergency. The company, which was founded in 2014, is based in Tel Aviv and plans to recruit another 10 people this year, mainly in mobile-app development and algorithmics. Another Israeli firm, NowForce, is a competitor. (Amitai Ziv)

China’s Baidu search engine invests in music education startup
Music education technology company Tonara says it has raised $5 million in a funding round led by China’s dominant search engine Baidu and Israel’s Carmel Ventures. Baidu’s investment and partnership will accelerate Tonara’s growth, particularly in China, the world’s largest music education market, the Israeli company said. In December, Baidu made its first direct investment in an Israeli startup when it invested $3 million in video-capture firm Pixellot. It is also an investor in Carmel Ventures’ newest fund. Tonara offers two apps: Tonara, a digital sheet music platform that follows played music and flips the pages during rehearsal and performance, and Wolfie, which provides interactive music lessons to support teacher-student communication. (Reuters)

U.S. consortium teams up with BioCatch against bank fraud
The fraud-prevention group Early Warning, which is owned by five of the largest U.S. banks, has teamed up with Israel’s BioCatch, a specialist in behavioral biometrics, to boost protection of customer accounts. BioCatch’s system analyzes and remembers how people maneuver physically online and can warn banks if a client’s account has been hacked. Typical signs of fraud or specific behavioral signatures can now be shared across the entire consortium, rather than at a single bank, the companies say, though they have not disclosed financial details of the partnership. BioCatch Chief Executive Ron Mortiz says the move addresses “some of the biggest challenges currently facing the financial industry, namely preventing account takeover and new account fraud as well as malware attacks.” Early Warning is owned by Wells Fargo, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, BB&T and Capital One. (Reuters)