Tech Nation

Investors Target Haredi Startups

Google Translate turns 10, and reveals secrets about Israelis’ translation habits | Gan Shmuel investing in GM seaweed | Bitcoin producer goes bust

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men work at a high tech start-up in an office in Tel Aviv. March 15, 2016
AP

Investors target Haredi startups

The first-ever group of investors targeting ultra-Orthodox startups is being formed, following a sharp increase in activity by Haredi entrepreneurs over the past three years. The group, called 12 Angels, is being launched by Kama Tech, which works to integrate the ultra-Orthodox into high-tech companies. Kama Tech has an accelerator for Haredi startups, and the fund will invest in the accelerator participants, it stated. So far, it has raised commitments to invest $300,000, it said. Half of that money is from an ultra-Orthodox American businessman who was one of the early investors in WeWork. Kama Tech hopes to draft significantly more, partly by drawing in ultra-Orthodox businessmen, it said. 12 Angels plans to offer seed investments totaling a few tens of thousands of dollars per company. (Inbal Orpaz)

Google Translate turns 10, and reveals secrets about Israelis’ translation habits

Happy birthday, Google Translate! Google’s translation service is celebrating 10 years since its release, and the company published data about how the service is used around the world in order to mark the occasion. Some 60% of translation from Hebrew is into English, it noted. After that is Russian, with 14%, and then Arabic, at 12%. Users also seek to translate Hebrew into Spanish, French, Portuguese, Danish, Italian, Romanian, Turkish and Thai. The Hebrew phrases most frequently translated are “I love you,” “Thank you,” “Good morning” and “Shalom” (which translates into hello, good-bye and peace). A full 80% of translation from Hebrew takes place in Israel. The other countries with significant demand for Hebrew translation are the United States, Germany, France, Britain, China, Canada, Russia, Brazil, Singapore and the Netherlands, in that order. While Google Translate’s Hebrew translation is not considered that good relative to other languages, the demand for translation in Israel is relatively high given the population size, stated Google. Google Translate includes 103 languages, and translates some 1 billion words a day. Some 50% of that is from English to Spanish. (Eliran Rubin)

Gan Shmuel investing in GM seaweed

Food company Gan Shmuel is investing $10 million in a biotech company working on genetically engineered seaweed, conducting genetic engineering, it stated. The company, which is controlled by Kibbutz Gan Shmuel, manufactures raw ingredients for soft drinks, tomato products, eggs and drinks, which are sold in Israel and abroad. The company extended a $10 million loan to TransAlgae at an interest rate of 3% a year, with an option to convert the loan into shares in three years. If the loan isn’t converted into shares, TransAlgae will pay it back in 40 payments, the last of which will be in 2036. TransAlgae, founded in 2008 and based in Rehovot, is developing seaweed-based proteins for the veterinary market and the pesticide industry. (Yoram Gabison)

Bitcoin producer goes bust

Bitcoin company Spondoolies is wrapping up operations after $12 million in investment and three years of operations – the court appointed a receiver to the Israeli bitcoin-minting firm following a liquidation request submitted by seven employees who did not receive their pay for April. The employees’ petition states that workers received notice on April 3 that due to the company’s credit crunch and lack of financing, it would not be able to fully pay salaries and continue employment. Thus, the employees were laid off, the said. The notice stated that the company was likely to head into receivership in May. Spondoolies, founded in 2013, created energy-efficient computers that minted bitcoins. While Spondoolies had impressive technical achievements, it was in a competitive market with high development costs, and Chinese companies were more efficient, said industry sources. (Eliran Rubin)