TechNation: Zeek Raises $9.5 Million for Store-voucher Marketplace

Mutual fund category for investment in startups approved by finance minister; SafeBreach raises $15 million for simulated hack attacks technology; SNE raises $2.5 million for technology transfer from Israeli colleges.

Ruti Levy
Shelly Appelberg
Inbal Orpaz
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An illustration picture shows a projection of binary code on a man holding a laptop computer.Credit: Reuters
Ruti Levy
Shelly Appelberg
Inbal Orpaz

Zeek raises $9.5 million for store-voucher marketplace

Zeek, whose platform lets users sell their unwanted store credit to someone who wants it, said Wednesday it had raised $9.5 million in a round was led by Scale-Up Venture Capital to expand into Europe.

Scale-Up was joined by investors from last year’s initial, $3-million round, including Blumberg Capital and Qualcomm Ventures. Zeek launched in 2014, in Israel, where an estimated 600 million shekels ($156 million) of the store credit that is issued every year – one-third of the total, go unused.

The platform, which is available online or as a mobile app, has launched in Britain and Zeek hopes to expand throughout. It operates as a marketplace for trading store credit in the form of vouchers, refund slips, gift cards and e-vouchers. The company plans to add 20 new employees to its workforce of 35.

Zeek, which was founded by CEO Daniel Zelkind, Marketing Vice President Itay Erel and Chief Technology Officer Ziv Isaiah, takes a commission on each transaction. (Ruti Levy)

Mutual fund category for investment in startups approved by finance minister

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon on Wednesday approved rules that would create a new category of publicly traded mutual fund that may invest in tech startups.

Drawn up by the Israel Securities Authority and the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, the rules permit the new funds to raise up to 500 million shekels ($130.2 million), 30% of which may go to unlisted tech startups backed by government guarantees. The funds would trade on the TASE as closed-end funds, giving investors exposure to the local tech sector.

Kahlon said the move would bring more Israeli capital into the tech sector, which is dominated by U.S. money, and discourage capital-starved startups from putting themselves up for sale to multinationals. “The funds will also act as an important tool for increasing trading in the bourse,” he added. (Shelly Appelberg)

SafeBreach raises $15 million for simulated hack attacks technology

SafeBreach, a cybersecurity startup that simulates hack attacks on computer networks to help them identify vulnerabilities, said Tuesday it had raised $15 million to expand research and development, and sales and marketing.

The round includes new investors Deutsche Telekom Capital Partners, Hewlett Packard Pathfinder and Maverick Ventures, along with Sequoia Capital and Israeli investor Shlomo Kramer, which took part in last year’s $4-million seed round.

Founded in 2014 by CEO Guy Bejerano and Chief Technology Officer Itzik Kotler, SafeBreach says its technology enables organizations to get into the mind of a hacker to anticipate likely attack scenarios and fix vulnerabilities.

The company employs 33 people, 23 of them in Tel Aviv. It plans to hire 25 more, half for the Tel Aviv R&D center and half for the Sunnyvale, California, sales and marketing office. (Inbal Orpaz)

SNE raises $2.5 million for technology transfer from Israeli colleges

In its first significant external financing, SNE, a technology-transfer company representing Israel’s colleges, hospitals and research institutes, said Monday it had closed a $2.5-million round.

The money comes from Arieli Capital, a venture capital fund founded and managed by Eric Bentov.

SNE has an eight-year contract  from the Council of Higher Education in Israel to be the preferred provider of intellectual-property commercialization services for some 40 academic colleges and government-funded hospitals and research institutes, with 26 million shekels ($6.8 million) to grant.

“We intend to use the capital we have raised to increase the number of institutions SNE works with in the coming year. We also plan to advance and develop current products, expand its portfolio of new products and prepare them for commercialization,” said CEO Avi Ben Zichri. (TheMarker Staff)