Israeli Startup to Offer Ultra-secure Smartphone for Just $10,000

The device, which Sirin Labs calls the most advanced smartphone ever made, will be unveiled next month in London.

Inbal Orpaz
Inbal Orpaz
Man using smartphone.
Illustration: Man using smartphone.Credit: Bloomberg
Inbal Orpaz
Inbal Orpaz

Sirin Labs, a startup backed by Israeli venture capital investor Moshe Hogeg, said Monday it will be launching an ultra-secure smartphone in another month for people who can afford its $10,000-plus price tag.

Working in stealth mode since it was formed in 2013 and backed by $72 million in venture capital, Sirin Labs offered few details about the phone except to say it would be is “the most advanced smartphone ever made.” The phone will be unveiled in May at Sirin Labs’ flagship store in Mayfair London.

“We managed to combine military phone and the phone for everyday use... Let’s see if we can integrate the best from both worlds without limitations,” Hogeg told the technology website TechCrunch. “It won’t be the most expensive phone in the world. We are in the neighborhood of $10,000-$15,000 per phone,” he said, promising that prices would eventually come down.

Behind the smartphone’s development is a multinational team of investors and engineers. The company is domiciled in Switzerland because of its strict privacy laws, but it has a 50-person research and development team working in Tel Aviv, another 30 people in Lund, Sweden, responsible for design and manufacturing and a marketing team in London.

The company’s operational leader and CEO is Tal Cohen, a former McKinsey consultant. Other key people include Fredrik Oijer, former product director at Sony Ericsson and Karim Rashid, an Egyptian-born, New York-based designer, in charge of design.

Hogeg’s Singulariteam venture fund backed Sirin together with Kazakh businessman Kenges Rakishev and Chinese Internet company Renren. Both Rakishev and Renren have worked extensively with Hogeg, who has backed companies like Mobli and the Yo app. Sirin Labs is being advised by Spanish politician Joan Laporta, former Futbol Club Barcelona president.

“The company has operated quietly under the radar here in Tel Aviv for two-and-a half years and next month will introduce what I believe is the most advanced and secure phone in the world,” Hogeg said on his Facebook page.

Sirin Labs’ phone is being offered as an alternative to mass-market smartphones like the iPhone for business people who want to protect confidential information. After Apple’s high-profile standoff with the U.S. government over encryption, Sirin Labs’ timing for a highly secure alternative is good. In addition, the secure phone market has no dominant player since Blackberry left in 2013.

The announcement about Sirin Labs comes only two weeks after Hogeg, who is known as something of a bad boy in the world of Israeli high-tech, said he was swearing off new investments. “New investments?” he asked on his Facebook page. “Not in the near future. Since 2009, there hasn’t been a period when it’s been so difficult to raise money.”

On Sunday, Hogeg told TheMarker he was now feeling otherwise. “Within a year, we’ll be in a situation where there are a lot of ‘bargains,’ the market will steady and there will be a flood of new investments and so on. Regarding my fund, I’m pressing down on the gas pedal.”



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