TechNation / High-tech Salaries in Israel Up 6% in 2015, Amid Tight Labor Market

Alooma raises $11 million for cloud service; Melodea building Swedish plant to recycle paper waste; Communications Ministry pushing for Xphone to join mobile market.

Israeli high-tech workers. Rare is the Ethiopian-Israeli among them.
Alon Ron

High-tech salaries up 6% in 2015, amid tight labor market

Salaries in Israel’s high-tech sector took off last year, rising far quicker than the pace of the economy overall, as the number of unfilled jobs grew, the Finance Ministry said in a report released yesterday. Wages climbed 3% on average in 2015 – the fastest rate in three years. However, they climbed 8% in communications services, 7.1% in research and development, and 5.8% in software development. These job categories cover 80% of all high-tech employment. High-tech jobs paid on average 18,400 shekels ($4,745) a month before taxes last year, nearly double the 9,359-shekel national average and up about 6% from 2014, the treasury added. Finance Minister chief economist Yoel Naveh warned that a tightening labor market means Israel is reaching full employment. In the tech sector, the government approved easier visa rules last month to bring in foreign tech workers. (Moti Bassok)

Alooma raises $11 million for cloud service

Alooma, an Israeli startup that enables businesses to work with big data delivered as a cloud service, said yesterday it had raised $11.2 million in a round led by the U.S. venture funds Lightspeed Venture Partners and Sequoia Capital. The round is aimed to develop the product and expanding the firm’s research and development and marketing staffs in Israel and the United States. A previous $3.8-million seeding round took place in 2014. Alooma’s product is designed for data scientists and end users with advanced degrees in mathematics and machine learning, rather than developers. The company was formed in 2013 by CEO Yoni Broyde and Yair Weinberger, its chief technology officer, and Rami Amar, vice president for research. “Before we write a line of code, we interviewed data and computerization teams at more than 150 companies so we would focus in the real needs of the market,” Broyde said. (Inbal Orpaz)

Melodea building Swedish plant to recycle paper waste

Israel’s Melodea, whose technology takes the sludge created during paper manufacturing to make eco-friendly materials, will be building a $2-million plant in Sweden. The plant, which will use Melodea’s process for extracting nano crystalline cellulose from paper waste, is being financed by Holmen – a Swedish papermaker that is also an investor in Melodea – and the Swedish government. “About 30% of all the raw material in the paper industry is thrown out. Eleven tons of sludge is buried or burned in Europe alone,” said Melodea’s CEO, Prof. Shaul Lapidot. “Helped by a special chemicals process, which itself is green, we have isolated the cellulose, which is essentially the building block of all plants in the world, and can now produce a wide range of products for different industries.” Melodea was formed as a subsidiary of the technology-commercialization arm of the Hebrew University by Lapidot and Prof. Oded Shoseyov, two faculty members. (Eliran Rubin)

Communications Ministry pushing for Xphone to join mobile market

Israel’s Communications Ministry is working to bring in Xphone as a new player in the mobile market and enhance competition at a time when Golan Telecom is angling to merge with Cellcom Israel. Currently a supplier of international calling services and Internet, Xphone bought a 4G frequency in a January 2015 auction for 16 million shekels ($4.1 million). But efforts to reach an agreement with Pelephone – one of the big three cellular companies – to piggyback on its network collapsed, and its plans to enter the market have since stalled. But Communications Ministry director general Shlomo Filber has told industry executives that Xphone “will enter the cellular market, period,” sources told TheMarker. In recent weeks, Filber has been using his legal authority to resolve disputes between Xphone and Pelephone, or to have Xphone join an existing partnership between Partner Communications and HOT. (Amitai Ziv)