Tech Nation: Israeli Customs a Barrier to Online Shopping

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A customs depot at Ashdod Port.
A customs depot at Ashdod Port in 2011. Things have gotten a lot busier in the intervening years.Credit: David Bachar

Israeli customs a barrier to online shopping

Israelis have turned to foreign online retailers in a big way to buy products over the last five years, forcing local retailers to cut prices and giving buyers a wider selection of goods. However, unfavorable customs rules are limiting how much consumers can benefit, says Elad Goldenberg, head of business at eBay Israel. Israel ranks 15th in the world for total online buying, but it is No. 3 for people doing online shopping on overseas websites. That is pretty remarkable, because Israel only exempts purchases up to $75 from duties – half the average for European Union countries, and less than a 10th of the duty-free maximum in the United States, he said. “That’s a giant consumer barrier, because customs charges and taxes can add another 50% to the cost of a purchase. In addition, the state comptroller estimates that customs samples just 1% of all packages arriving in the country,” added Goldenberg.

Armis raises $17 million for IoT security

Armis, which provides cybersecurity for the internet of things, emerged from stealth mode on Tuesday and said it had raised $17 million in funding from Sequoia Capital and Tenaya Capital. The proceeds will be used to expand its 20-person Tel Aviv research and development team by a further 10 people over the coming year, and add to its Palo Alto, California, marketing staff. Armis’ platform enables businesses to see and control compromised and unmanaged devices like smartphones, keyboards and webcams and rogue networks accessing their systems. “Enterprise security has a huge blind spot,” said Yevgeny Dibrov, CEO and cofounder of Armis. “The recent botnet attacks like Mirai, Hajime and Persirai show how new IoT devices are being exploited and attacked.” Dibrov, who was on the executive team at Adallom before it was acquired by Microsoft for $320 million, founded Armis in late 2015 with Chief Technology Officer Nadir Izrael. 

Tulip secures $13m for manufacturing apps

Tulip, whose apps are used on the factory floor to let human workers coordinate their work better with the growing workforce of robots, said Tuesday it had secured $13 million in financing from investors, led by New Enterprise Associates. Israel’s Pitango Venture Capital and many of the company’s existing private investors joined the round, which Tulip said would be used on its product, design and research teams and customer support. The startup is based in Massachusetts and uses technology developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology by its two Israeli founders, CEO Natan Linder and Rony Kubat. Tulip’s Manufacturing App Platform combines intelligent hardware sensors, computer vision and applied machine learning. “Our system makes it easy for manufacturers to connect hands-on work processes, machines and back-end IT systems through flexible self-serve manufacturing apps,” Kubat said. Customers include the drug company Merck and contract manufacturer Jabil, but Tulip faces competition from industry leaders like General Electric.

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