Tech Roundup WhatsApp, the Glory and the Glitch

Israeli company Borderfree looks to float on Nasdaq, hoping to raise over $86 million.

Ruth Schuster
Ruth Schuster
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Ruth Schuster
Ruth Schuster

WhatsApp glitch paralyzes app for 4 hours: Oh dear. Just two days after Facebook made geeks everywhere green with its acquisition of WhatsApp for $19 billion, come Saturday night Israel time the mobile messaging company’s platform collapsed for four hours. If you were one of the company’s 430 million users, you couldn’t send or receive messages using its app. Users were reduced to infuriated tweets, during which WhatsApp confirmed that it was having server issues, but as of late Saturday night the app was back online. Some 54 billion messages are sent every day using WhatsApp, compared with 230 million tweets. The WhatsApp deal may show that Mark Zuckerberg sees the future in messaging, but not every messaging app is equal.

Zlango, goodbye: After a decade and $22 million, Israeli texting company Zlango is closing down, last week firing its last workers and vanishing from the Apple app store. Zlango, founded in 2004, had aimed to create a pictographic language for mobile – note that it began before the advent of smartphones, to which it had to adapt its technology. It raised money from major venture capital funds and local tech figures and found business partners, mainly in Asia, including Vodafone Hong Kong and India’s Bharti.

Broadcom flips Siliquent: Last Tuesday, U.S. company Broadcom sold Siliquent – an Israeli company it had bought in 2005 for $84 million – onward to another American company, QLogic. Why did Broadcom sell Siliquent, and its associated activities? For one thing QLogic agreed to pay $147 million in cash, which is a nice return. Broadcom makes communication chips for mobile devices, while Siliquent is into server networking technology, which is QLogic’s field.

State exits phone company once and for all: And thus an era ends, not with a bang but with a stock distribution of Bezeq shares by the state. Once Israel’s national phone company, now Bezeq is not a government company nor even a quasi-government one. Concerned about causing a jolt, last Wednesday the state holdings company, MI Holdings (which, by the way, stands for Medinat Israel Holdings), advised all Tel Aviv Stock Exchange clearers that it would be selling its 26.4 million Bezeq shares by 8 the next morning. The 0.93% stake had been worth about 152 million shekels ($43 million). Bezeq is now controlled by Shaul Elovitch’s B Communications.

Do you have to join the biometric database? No: Also last Wednesday, the court slapped the Interior Ministry and ordered it to advise the public that joining the biometric database is voluntary, not compulsory – at least during the pilot stage. No rights will be impaired by refusal to join. Now you know. Campaigns explaining about the biometric database had been, shall we say, unclear on that point, as Judge Miriam Naor pointed out.

Borderfree files for Nasdaq IPO: The Israeli company Borderfree, formerly called FiftyOne Global Ecommerce (and before that E4X), has filed with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission to float on Nasdaq, where it hopes to raise just over $86 million based on a company value of $700 million and counting. The company sells its technology to facilitate online commerce to a long list of classy clients in more than 100 countries, including Saks Fifth Avenue and Sephora. In its filing, Borderfree revealed 2013 revenues of $111 million, up 35% year over year, and a net loss of $0.7 million for the year. In 2012 it had netted $0.2 million, following $5.7 million in 2011. Nu. The company explains that it engages in all aspects of online international commerce, including localizing sites, payment, fraud prevention, currency conversion and so on.

HP taps Briton to be next CEO in Israel: David Lander, a vice president at Hewlett-Packard’s U.K. headquarters, has been tapped to succeed Joshua Bakola as head of HP’s operations in Israel. Lander’s arrival in Israel comes as Hewlett-Packard faces tough challenges around the world. Earlier this year, HP announced staff cuts of almost 11% of its workforce globally.



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