Tech Roundup / Exits Go Sour in the Land of Milk and Honey

False start on Apple talks to buy Waze; survey shows pay gap for Haredi workers at HP Indigo; government ministry plans to build a 'Start-up Nation' visitors center.

Israeli start-up exits shrink: The value of the 10 largest Israeli companies to have an exit in 2012 was 15 percent less than the top 10 exits of 2011, according to market research company International Data Corporation. Each of the 10 largest exits (not including life sciences startups or publicly traded companies that changed ownership) in 2011 was for more than $100 million. This past year, only seven exits passed the $100 million mark. The smallest exit among the top 10 in 2011 was the sale of MobileAccess for $150 million. In 2012, the smallest exit in the top 10 was the $80-million sale of desktop solutions developer Wanova to VMware.

No two ways about it, Apple won't buy Waze: The crowdsourced navigational app Waze was in the headlines last Wednesday after the technology blog Tech Crunch reported rumors that the Israeli company was in acquisition talks with Apple. The Israeli blog Newsgeek also reported the story, saying that Apple had offered Waze $500 million for ownership of the company. However, just one day later, Tech Crunch, along with leading technology websites like CNET and TNW, changed their tune, reporting denials that serious talks between Apple and the Israeli start-up had even taken place. TheMarker learned that Waze, however, did hold meetings in the past month with senior people at Facebook, Microsoft and Google, including Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. Over the past year, Facebook, Microsoft, Google and Apple have all made proposals to buy Waze but were rejected. Sources close to the company say that Waze is holding out for an offer that values the company at $1 billion.

Waze also released some company figures on its blog to sum up its performance in 2012. According to the company, its app had some 34 million users by the end of 2012 as compared to the 10 million users it had at the beginning of the year. The company also expects to reach 40 million users by March 2013, 50 million users by this July and roughly double its user base by the end of 2013 with 70 million users.

Sharp salary differences among HP Indigo workers: A survey by TheMarker has revealed a 30 percent salary gap between Haredi and non-Haredi machine operators employed by HP Indigo through an outsourcing company. The Haredi workers, who are directly employed by Qualitest Group, receive inferior benefits compared to their non-Haredi colleagues, including less vacation time.

"It's impossible to impose uniform compensation on us, even with respect to benefits like vacation time," said HP Indigo CEO Alon Bar-Shany. "We aren't the Histadrut labor federation. This isn't religious-based discrimination, but different levels of compensation for those with different qualifications In recent years we have initiated and implemented employment projects that are exceptional in their scope and success in integrating different social groups in Israeli society; as part of this obligation and responsibility we will take all the necessary steps to address any failures, if any are found."

Matomy Media Group acquires digital advertising agency MediaWhiz for $10 million: Matomy Media has taken full ownership of the American digital advertising agency MediaWhiz. The $10 million deal is the Israeli company's second after its July 2011 acquisition of the American digital ad agency Adperio. Following its latest acquisition, Matomy Media's annual turnover will grow to $230 million per year and its workforce will increase to 350 employees.

'Start-up Nation,' the museum: The Investment Promotion Center in the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Labor says it plans to open a visitors center to display Israeli innovation to visiting foreign delegations as well as the Israeli public. The center will have learning and training activities sessions for students and enrichment activities to promote Israeli innovation.

Bloomberg