Tech Roundup / Celebrity Look-alike Week Boosts MyHeritage

Samsung looks for the next big start-up; Ravello raises big money; GE continues new year job diet at healthcare division; demand for programmers drops.

Samsung reveals: Samsung announced over the weekend that it is setting up a new $100 million investment fund, geared to provide seed money for start-ups, focusing on three regions: Silicon Valley, Massachusetts and Israel. The fund will be operated through R&D centers in Israel, the United States and Korea, and will strive “to launch new businesses and build a healthy business environment, as well as making strategic investments while engaging in collaboration and acquisitions." Currently, Samsung runs two centers in Israel, one in Yakum and the other in Ramat Gan, where its operational base is Transchip, a company bought by Samsung in 2007 which currently employs 200 people.

Ravello raising $26 million: The Israeli start-upRavello,owned by Benny Schnaider and Rami Tamir, has just finished a second round of fundraising in its attempts to bring in $26 million, $11 million of which was gathered in 2012. The company, launched in 2011, produces technologies that enable normalization of non-customized application environments so they can run on both the private and public cloud. Funding was secured by several venture capital firms, led by Sequoia Capital, along with NorwestVenture Partners and Bessemer Venture Partners. Schnaider and Tamir are well recognized as the entrepreneurs who built Qumranet Virtualization, which was sold in 2008 to the open source company RedHat for $115 million.

General Electric trimming operations in Israel: The giant GE Corporation is reducing its operations in Israel as part of a drive to cut expenses and increase efficiency. It just announced it was shutting down its Herzliya center, which is part of the GE Healthcare division, letting go of 25 workers. This follows another 25 workers fired since the beginning of the year. GE Healthcare, the medical imaging division, employs 500 people in Israel. Its core operation used to be at Elscint, which was subsequently purchased by Elbit Imaging. Based on that company, a large center was erected in Haifa, producing imaging products for nuclear medicine and ultrasound.

Demand for programmers down: The demand for programmers in all languages dropped by 8% in January, according to the AllJobs website. This was calculated by using an index comparing job offers and job searches on various sites. The drop in demand varied according to computer language, ranging from 2% to 15%. The only computer language where demand rose (by 5%) was PHP, a widely-used, general scripting language used for web development.

MyHeritage enjoying Doppelganger Week: A week for look-alikes (doppelgangers) on the social network site Facebook was just held for the third year running. The week is a windfall for the Israeli company MyHeritage. During this week, social network users swap their profiles with those of celebrities or of unknown people that have similar profiles. The Israeli company develops social networks and mobile applications that allow web surfers to construct family trees. During the ‘doubles’ week, the company offers a service that allows users to locate a celebrity that more or less resembles them. According to MyHeritage, this application was downloaded 100,000 times in the first days of the week. They anticipate that they will end up having half a million new customers at the end of the week.

AP