Business in Brief: Israel Places 15th Among eBay Buyers Worldwide

Booking.com recruiting for R&D center in Tel Aviv; R&D outlays grow 7%, mostly funded by companies abroad

The eBay headquarters in San Jose, California, 2015.
Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

Israel places 15th among eBay buyers worldwide

Israel may be a small country, but it is an internet buying giant, according to eBay. The online commerce company released data indicating that Israel is 15th in the world in purchases on its website in absolute terms, surpassing countries like Sweden, Japan and Brazil. Israel placed first in per capita terms in eBay purchases in 2016 for OECD countries. According to the Israel Postal Company, Israelis ordered 52 million packages from abroad. In 2016, they bought 16 million products from eBay alone, at a rate of one purchase every two seconds. One out of every 9 Israelis has an eBay account, compared to 1 in every 5,000 people in the United States. eBay and Alibaba are the two most popular sites in Israel, according to the postal company. Smartphones were the most popular products purchased from eBay in the first half of 2017, up 20% from 2016, followed by wristwatches, up 10%. Israelis also bought 2.5 million smartphone covers. (Hadar Kane)

Booking.com recruiting for R&D center in Tel Aviv

Booking.com, the world’s largest hotel booking site, announced this week that it will open a research and development center in Tel Aviv. The company said that it has started recruiting staff and is expected to hire 30 people in the initial stage. The research and development center is due to open in a few months on Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard. The company currently employs seven salespeople in Israel. The first job postings are for experienced software developers knowledgeable in Python and Java and experts in machine learning with advanced degrees. The company is also looking for a product manager. Founded in 1996 by Geert-Jan Bruinsma in Holland, Booking.com was sold to Priceline in 2005 for $135 million. Today, the corporation employs more than 15,000 people and books approximately 1.2 million room nights daily, according to the company. (Ruti Levy)

R&D outlays grow 7%, mostly funded by companies abroad

Israeli businesses increased research and development spending by 7% in 2015 relative to 2014, totaling 47.5 billion shekels ($13.3 billion), according to Central Bureau of Statistics data. The programming and consulting branches, which have constituted the main focus of growth in R&D outlays, contributed 61% to the rise. R&D expenses comprised 3.8% of GDP, the highest rate among OECD countries. However, 56% of those investments came from the private sector, involving mainly multinational corporations operating in Israel. Government R&D funding declined 6%, dropping from 785 million shekels in 2014 to 565 million shekels in 2015 – part of a general decrease in funding of science research, including startups, high-tech incubators and research institutes. Funding from VC funds fell 9%, from 1.94 billion shekels to 1.77 billion shekels, while it rose 30%, from 1.5 billion shekels to 1.9 billion shekels, among private sources during the same period. Full-time R&D jobs increased 3% to 71,000 positions in 2015. (Ruti Levy)