Tech Roundup / MyHeritage Buys Geni

A cash infusion to make smartphones smarter, Retalix and Sync-Rx get American citizenship; layoffs at Texas Instruments; technological troubles mar Likud’s primary.

Inbal Orpaz
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MyHeritage adds new name to family tree: MyHeritage, which runs a family-oriented social network and genealogy website announced that it had acquired its long-time American rival, Geni, in its eighth and largest acquisition. That adds 7 million more to its network for a total of 72 million registered users, 1.5 billion profiles and 20 million family trees. More good news came with a new round of investment to the tune of $25 million. The leading investor in this funding round is Bessemer Venture Partners (BVP), along with the veteran funds Index Ventures and Accel Partners. The company has raised $49 million so far, including the latest injection. Its income is estimated at more than $20 million a year and its valuation is thought to be between $150 million and $200 million. Established in 2003, MyHeritage has 130 employees: 80 of them in Israel, 40 in the United States and the rest in Europe. 

It's all about me, me, me:, a smartphone platform which develops solutions for searches on mobile devices, also raised  a cool $25 million, led by Telefonica Digital. Other participants included SingTel Innov8, an investment fund in Singapore; Mozilla; and a few existing investors: the Barkat brothers’ BRM Group, DFJ (Draper Fisher Jurvetson ) and DFJ Tamir Fishman Ventures. The current fundraising round concludes after the company raised $3.5 million last March from Horizons Ventures, which is owned by Asian business magnate Li Ka-shing. has raised a total $37.5 million to date, and plans to use the latest injection of funds to expand its workforce, which now comprises 20 employees in Israel. 

Retalix sold to NCR: Retalix, an Israeli software company that provides retail software and services, was sold to the American company NCR for between $650 and $800 million in cash, according to a report the companies released to the stock market. The maximum price reflects a premium of 50 percent above the worth of the stock that is traded on the Tel Aviv and New York stock exchanges. After the report of the acquisition last Wednesday, Retalix’s stock jumped by more than 30 percent on Wall Street and rose by a similar percentage in Tel Aviv when trading opened there. Retalix’s software and services are used in more than 70,000 retail locations in more than 50 countries, and billions of dollars are transacted using its platform.

Volcano buys Sync-Rx: The San Diego-based Volcano signed a deal on Friday to acquire the Israeli medical imaging company Sync-Rx for $17 million. Sync-Rx’s software improves and stabilizes imaging for catheterization in real time. It performs a variety of tasks from estimating the narrowing of the artery and making clinical decisions, to choosing the balloon and the stent, deploying the devices in the right location and evaluating the results.

Layoffs at Texas Instruments Israel: At the start of the week, between 200 and 250 employees of TI will be summoned for dismissal hearings at the company’s chip-development center in Israel. Once the round of layoffs has been completed, fewer than 100 employees will remain there. According to a source close to the company, the management hinted to the workers that there was a small chance the development center might be acquired by another company. TI officials could not be reached for comment. The layoffs are part of a cutback of 1,700 employees that TI announced about two weeks ago and result from its decision to stop manufacturing chips for cellular devices.

Likud primary extended due to computer glitches: Malfunctions in the computerized voting system at last Sunday’s Likud internal election forced the party to extend the voting by an additional day. One of the system’s main servers apparently crashed, causing severe delays at many polling stations.  Then a security breach enabled surfers at the website, Yayasoft – the contractor that handled the party’s primary -- to view updates in voter turnout at the polling stations and personal data about the contact people at each station.  A Likud spokesperson said the party would consider legal action against the companies that had been entrusted with setting up and operating the computerized systems.

MyHeritage, which helps you track your family's roots, pulled in big funding last week and acquired a rival in its 8th, and largest, acquisition.Credit: Amos Biderman