Amazon Israel Expansion Includes Hires for New Go Shopping Initiative

TechNation | Lumus raises another $30 million for augmented reality technology; Huawei eyeing Israeli startup as it deepens local presence; Hippo secures $14 million for online insurance sales.

Amazon employees outside the Amazon Go brick-and-mortar store in Seattle, Washington, December 5, 2016.
JASON REDMOND/REUTERS

Lumus raises another $30 million for augmented reality technology

Lumus, a whose augmented reality products can be mounted on an ordinary pair of eyeglasses, said yesterday it raised $30 million, bringing to $45 million the total the Rehovot-based startup has raised in the past six months. The latest tranche of the round included capital from strategic investors Quanta Computer and consumer electronics firm HTC of Taiwan. In June Lumus said it secured $15 million from the Chinese investment group Shanda along with Zhejiang Crystal-Optech Company, a Chinese photoelectric component manufacturer. Lumus’ optical technology is used by consumer electronics and smart eyewear makers to produce see-through wearable displays that simultaneously show images, such as directions for driving. The technology comprises a lens with ultra-thin transparent reflectors and a micro projector that displays images on the lens. Lumus said it was using the capital for research and development and marketing of its transparent, wearable display technology for the augmented reality and smart eyewear industry. (Ruti Levy)

Huawei eyeing Israeli startup as it deepens local presence

Huawei, the giant Chinese maker of smartphones and telecommunications equipment, is in talks to acquire the Israeli startup HexaTier as it deepens its presence and raises its profile in Israel. Industry sources say that the Chinese company decided to end its policy of keeping quiet about its Israel presence after founder Ren Zhengfei visited the country several weeks ago. Huawei’s research and development center in Hod Hasharon, which today operates under the name Toga Networks, is expected to be renamed Huawei Israel and its payroll expanded as the Chinese company looks for local startups to buy. Negotiations to purchase HexaTier also began after Ren’s visit. The cloud-hosted database security firm is being valued in the tens of millions of dollars. HexaTier, which was formed in 2009 and was called GreenSQL until earlier this year, employs about 40 people and has raised $14.5 million in capital. The company declined to comment on any negotiations. (Eliran Rubin)

Amazon Israel expansion includes hires for new Go shopping initiative

At least some of the new positions Amazon is creating as it expands its research and development division in Israel appear to be for its revolutionary new bricks-and-mortar subsidiary, Amazon Go. Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos was in Israel for an unpublicized visit ahead of a major expansion of the web retail giant’s Israel presence and the launch of a new research and development center. An examination of openings listed on Amazon’s internal job board as well as those on LinkedIn show a lot of positions in Israel related to Go, among them openings for experts in computer vision and machine learning. Amazon Go, which is now being tested, allows shoppers with the Amazon Go app to enter the store, take the products they want and leave without going through the checkout line. Amazon’s Just Walk Out Technology automatically detects what products are taken from or returned to the shelves, charges the shopper’s Amazon account and sends a receipt. (Eliran Rubin)

Hippo secures $14 million for online insurance sales

Hippo, which will soon be offering home insurance policies online, said last week it had raised $14 million in a round led by Horizons Ventures, a venture capital firm that has put money into Facebook, Spotify and Siri in the past. It was joined in the round by RPM Ventures, Propel Venture Partners, GGV Capital and Pipeline Capital as well as number of fintech investors and entrepreneurs it didn’t name. Hippo, which has received regulatory approval to begin selling in California and is conducting beta testing now, plans to launch its service next year with what it says is a simpler and more transparent process for buying home insurance. “We took everything that’s wrong with the current state of home insurance – the confusing forms, the outdated policy terms, the agent as middleman – and fixed it,” said CEO Assaf Wand. Founded last year by Wand and other Israelis, most of Hippo’s 14 employees are also Israelis, but the company operates out of Mountain View, California. (Eliran Rubin)