Facebook Buys Redkix, an Israeli Messaging Startup, to Compete With Slack

TechNation | Israeli startup Healthy.io gets U.S. approval for home urinalysis test ■ Israel’s student union seeks investors for a new digital bank ■ Avi Hasson, former gov’t technology czar, joins Emerge venture capital fund

FILE PHOTO: People pose with mobile devices in front of projection of Facebook logo.
\ Dado Ruvic/ REUTERS

Facebook buy Redkix, an Israeli messaging startup, to compete with Slack

Facebook has acquired the Israeli messaging-technology startup Redkix to buttress its Workplace by Facebook collaborative platform, the social media giant said Thursday. The price was not disclosed but was reportedly in the tens of millions of dollars. The acquisition is part of Facebook’s efforts to compete with Slack, a popular organizational messaging platform that is used by high-tech firms and the developer community. Redkix, which was founded in 2014 by serial entrepreneur brothers Oudi and Roy Antebi, has developed a system with email that functions like chat designed primarily for organizations. The company raised $17 million in seed-stage funding from investors including the investment arm of Salesforce.com, Wicklow Capital and SG VC as well as angel investors Oren Ze’ev, Ori Sasson and Amnon Landan. Redkix is a relatively small Israeli purchase Facebook after companies such as Onavo and Face.com, for which it paid $150 million and $100 million, respectively. (Refaella Goichman)

Israeli startup Healthy.io gets U.S. approval for home urinalysis test

Healthy.io, whose technology lets users perform clinical urinalysis at home, has won U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for its Dip.io, the Israeli startup said Wednesday. The approval makes Dip.io the first smartphone-based urine test to secure clearance as a Class 2 device in the U.S. The kit’s major innovation is a panel of patterns and colors that a smartphone camera can read regardless of lighting or environment, so the user gets results right away without waiting for a lab to analyze it. “This approval opens the door for improved screening for kidney disease, a condition which affects over 10 percent of the population globally,” Joe Coresh, professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins University and chairman of Healthy.io’s medical advisory board, said in a statement.  The startup was founded in 2013 by CEO Yonatan Adiri, who was a technology adviser to President Shimon Peres. Dip.io is already commercially available in Europe and Israel. (Eliran Rubin) 

Israel’s student union seeks investors for a new digital bank 

The National Union of Israeli Students wants to set up its own digital bank in what it says is part of the organization’s campaign to lower costs for consumers. The organization said Thursday that its 47-member board voted unanimously to approve the idea after a year of consulting with experts and would begin the search for potential investors. The union didn’t indicate the bank would specifically target students. “We’re ready to invest and explore any option that will provide a solution for the entire Israeli public, which is hostage to our concentrated banking system. Our goal is to lower the cost to the end user,” said union Chairman Ram Shefa. Bank of Israel Banks Supervisor Hedva Ber  supports the idea of digital banks as a way of breaking the cartel of Israel’s five big banking groups, and Check Point Software co-founder Marius Nacht is leading a group looking into starting one. But a business model for the Israel market remain elusive. (Michael Rochvarger)  

Avi Hasson, former gov’t technology czar, joins Emerge venture capital fund

Avi Hasson, the Israeli government’s chief technology policymaker until a year ago, is joining his former chief of staff at the Israel Innovation Authority, in the venture capital industry. Hasson said at a conference in Beijing this week that he would be joining Dovi Ollech’s Emerge fund, which now manages $30 million, and begin work on raising $100 million for a second fund. Hasson said he was confident about being able to raise the amount, citing Emerge’s success in raising capital from leading Chinese entrepreneurs and companies. “Existing investors will support the second fund and even increase their exposure. The work Dovi had done in China is fantastic. In the past year he’s knocked on the doors of some of the biggest names in the world of Chinese investing and he’s gotten a warm reception. That connection is helping our portfolio companies a lot.” Before heading the Office of the Chief Scientist, now the Israel Innovation Authority, Hasson was a partner in the Gemini venture capital fund group. (Eliran Rubin)