TechNation

Former Israeli Chief of Staff Joins List of Ex-generals Entering the High-tech Sector

Ex-army chief joins startup drone firm ■ Scooter-rental company Bird to launch pilot in Tel Aviv ■ Carats.io to offer diamond-backed cryptocurrency without bourse backing

Ex-army chief of staff Dan Halutz in Tel Aviv, 2012
\ Moti Milrod

Ex-army chief of staff Dan Halutz joins startup drone firm Camikaze

Dan Halutz, the former air force commander and chief of staff, has joined the growing list of Israeli ex-generals entering the high-tech sector. TheMarker has learned that Halutz has signed on as an adviser to a startup called Camikaze, which was formed just a few weeks ago to develop what it calls “premium” consumer drone technology and aerial photography systems based on proven Israeli military technology. Its drones are designed for athletes and extreme-sports professionals capable of capturing extreme sport scenes in the most hostile aerial environments. “Our plan is to build a drone that can video someone in a 300-kilometer-per-hour freefall or on a downhill ski slope or in extreme work environments,” CEO Gadi Kuperman, a former Israel Air Force colonel, who cofounded the startup with Ben Alfi, a former fighter pilot. Both head other drone startups – Kuperman heads SuperUAV, which is focused on security applications, while Alfi heads Blue White Robotic in the auto-tech sector. (Amitai Ziv)

Scooter-rental company Bird to launch pilot in Tel Aviv in next several weeks

The U.S. scooter-rental company Bird rolled into Europe on Tuesday and will be coming to Israel in the next few weeks, a month after the two-wheeled electric vehicle startup was valued at $2 billion in its latest funding round. Bird said officials in Tel Aviv and Paris had been given advance notice of the scooter rental launch, in an effort to avert possible regulatory battles The company said it will start with small pilot programs of 50 to 100 scooters, with plans to add more. The scooters will be available only on the campus of Tel Aviv University and in three districts in the center of Paris. Bird will gather data on how the vehicles are used and collaborate with city officials before deciding on a longer-term presence. Scooter companies, like Bird and Lime, tout their product as an efficient transportation method for distances under three miles, reducing carbon emissions from cars. (Reuters)

Carats.io to offer diamond-backed cryptocurrency without bourse backing

Israeli startup Carats.io said on Wednesday it was partnering with Celsius, a blockchain-based financial platform, to market its diamond-backed cryptocurrency after the Israel Diamond Exchange ended its affiliation with the company. Carats.io said that using New York-based Celsius’ network, people will be able to receive loans and earn interest on their diamond investments. Its digital coin, called CARAT, will be backed by diamonds, which the company said should make them less volatile. “Our CARAT coins are ... in full compliance with all the regulations and protocols of the financial sectors as well the governments and international agencies,” said President Eli Avidar. The diamond exchange cut ties with Carat.io after Israel’s diamond regulator, which has yet to formulate a policy on cryptocurrencies, did not grant Carats.io a license to trade in diamonds. Finance in the diamond industry has been drying up in recent years with banks cutting back lending. (Reuters)