Tech Roundup / With Nearly Half a Billion in New Funds, Accel Eyes Israeli Startups

Terra Venture Partners turns to cleantech; Vasona picks up some extra cash; Lexifone brushes up on its Chinese.

Accel Partners raises $475 million, will invest $100 million in Israel: The venture capital fund Accel Partners announced on Thursday a first closing of $475 million for its new fund, Accel London IV, which it will invest in Israel and Europe. In the past, Accel Partners invested 20% of its funds in Israel and the new fund is expected to bring in some $100 million for Israeli hi-tech. Accel Partners has invested in 30 Israeli companies over the past 13 years, including Fiverr, myThings, MyHeritage, and companies that were later sold to technology giants, such as Amobee, C-cube, and Dapper. The new fund will invest in Israeli and European companies in their early stages and in growth stages. In terms of technology, the fund will invest in fields that Accel focuses on – consumer internet, big data, cloud, mobile, and SaaS. Founded in 1983, today Accel has offices worldwide, in Silicon Valley, London, New York, Bangalore, and China. It has invested so far in over 500 companies, including Facebook, Groupon, Dropbox, Angry Birds, and Spotify.

A $20 million closing for Terra Venture Partners, which will invest in cleantech: On Tuesday, Terra Venture Partners announced a first closing of $20 million for its second fund. Terra estimates that the total amount raised for the fund will reach $50 million. The fund’s investors include an American investment fund and a Brazilian bank. Other investors were family offices from Europe and investors from Terra’s first fund. The new fund is expected to invest in 5-6 business incubators a year. In 2007, Terra raised $25 million for its first fund. Last July, Terra Ventures won the incubator tender of the chief scientist at the Ministry for Industry, Trade, and Labor for Terralove Ventures in Yokneam Illit. In its first fund, Terra invested in nine cleantech companies which develop water, energy, and environmental technologies. According to Terra, most of the companies in it invested in received significant continuation funding and four gained significant profits and achieved cooperation agreements with leading companies in their field. The capital raised for the new fund is expected to be invested in projects that are not necessarily the core activity of the fund up till now – that is, cleantech companies in early stages – but rather in projects that connect internet, software, and mobile technologies with positive environmental impact.

Vasona Networks has completed a second round of fundraising: The Israeli startup Vasona Networks, which develops a solution for optimization of cellular communication networks, announced on Tuesday that it has completed a second round of fundraising totaling $12 million, led by Bessemer Venture Partners. In addition to Bessemer, the round included the company’s existing investors – New Venture Partners, formerly the investment arm of Alcatel Lucent, and Vodafone Venture. This round has brought the company’s funds to about $22 million.

The Israeli startup Lexifone is opening a development center in China: Lexifone, which developed an automatic simultaneous translator for cellular phones, will open a development center in the Chinese city of Changzhou where 20 Israeli companies already have offices. On Tuesday the company signed a memorandum with the deputy head of the city’s local government, Fang Guoqiang, in charge of economic development, who was in Israel this week for meetings and to sign agreements with Israeli technology companies. Lexifone intends to recruit a staff of about 10 people, including mostly Chinese linguists and service and support personnel. Lexifone is in process of raising $10 million to broaden its activities. Most of the sum has already been raised.

Eran Wolkowski