Tech Roundup Google Incubates in Israel, Expats Thrive Abroad

Israelis said to start the sixth most companies in the U.S., software, security and robot-app brands bring in big bucks and a gambling website inks a deal with Facebook.

Maya Epstein
Maya Epstein

Google dedicates Campus TLV: Google opened its high-tech meeting place Campus TLV this week with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in attendance. The new campus spreads out over 1,500 square meters and will serve as a meeting place for the Israeli high-tech community. A professional training program for young start-ups called LaunchPad will occur bi-weekly at the center with workshops tailored to industry needs. The program will cooperate with local tech incubators, including The Junction, Upwest Labs, the Tel Aviv Angel Group and The Elevator, run by the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya. It is expected to provide training to 100 early stage start-ups. Likewise, a mobile device laboratory will open at the campus, which will be available to developers seeking to test out apps.

Israelis rank sixth among expat entrepreneurs: Israelis are the sixth largest expatriate group in terms of the number of immigrant-founded start-ups in the United States, according to the results of a study conducted by researchers from Duke University, the University of California – Berkeley and Stanford University. The study, which was published about a month ago by the Kauffman Foundation, says that Israelis were behind 3.5 percent of the companies started by non-American entrepreneurs in the U.S. between 2006 and 2012.

Indians, who have started 33.2 percent of American start-ups with at least one non-American founder, topped the list, followed by Chinese with 8.1 percent, British with 6.3 percent, Canadians with 4.2 percent and Germans with 3.9 percent.

Among Israelis founders, 44 percent established their start-ups in Massachusetts, while only 25 percent went with California, home of Silicon Valley. Thirteen percent of chose New York and about 6 percent chose Arizona, Georgia and Nevada.

Fundraising fun: The Israeli company Farmigo, which is developing a software platform to allow consumers to purchase vegetables, fish and other fresh produce directly from farms through the Internet, announced on Wednesday that it had raised an additional $8 million in capital from investors in its second round of fundraising. The current round of fundraising was led by Sherbrooke Capital and RSF Social Finance with the participation of Benchmark Capital, which previously invested in the company. Farmigo raised $2 million in its previous round of fundraising.

Benzi Ronen and Yossi Pik founded the company in 2009. Today, it has 20 employees, 10 who work out of its headquarters in Palo Alto and another 10 who work at the company's R&D center in Israel. In September 2011, the company reached the final stage of the TechCrunch Disrupt competition run by the technology blog TechCrunch.

The Israeli start-up MoMinis announced on Sunday that it had raised $6 million from investors. The fundraising round, the company's third, was led by the Gemini Israel Ventures together with the BRM Group. MoMinis is creating a software platform for the development and distribution of games for mobile devices and was founded in 2008 by Tzach Hadar, Aviv Revach and the brothers Eyal and Zvi Rabinovich.

The company has raised $15.4 million altogether from investors, $10 million of which was raised in 2012 alone, including $4.5 million received during a second round of fundraising led by BRM Group and Mitsui Ventures.

The Israeli start-up Adallom has raised $4.5 million from Sequoia Capital in Israel and high-tech investor Zohar Zisapel in the company's first round of fundraising from investors. Adallom is a developing an organizational security product that has yet to be unveiled to the public. The start-up was founded in 2001 by CEO Assaf Rapaport, Chief Technology Officer Ami Luttwak and Vice President of R&D Roy Reznik. All three of Adallom's founders are veterans of the IDF's Talpiot technology training program and served in the Intelligence Corps' Unit 8200. The company employs seven computer engineers and its offices are located in Tel Aviv's Ramat Hahayal neighborhood.

The Israeli start-up RobotAppStore announced this week that it raised $250,000 from the venture capital fund Grishin Robotics to fund its continued development of the first app store for robots. App developers will be able to upload robot-appropriate apps, including those for Roomba the cleaning robot and the NAO humanoid robot, among others.

RobotAppStore was founded in 2011 by CEO Elad Inbar and has seven employees. The company previously raised $500,000 in capital. The person behind Grishin Robotics is Dmitry Grishin, the CEO and co-founder of, the largest free Russian email service.

Online gambling company 888 signs agreement with Facebook: The deal will enable users to play 888's online games through Facebook using real money. As a result of the agreement, 888 will become the leading provider of gambling services on Facebook and will operate its own for-money games area on the site with a bingo, casino and slot game app, under the name Bingo Appy. As part of the agreement, Facebook will share in the gambling profits from the games.

The inauguration of Google's new offices in Tel Aviv.Credit: Ofer Vaknin

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