TechNation / Israeli Startups Defy Ban on Exhibiting Over Sabbath, Rosh Hashanah

Hola raises $17 million from France’s Orange, Publicis; Compass wins $50 million in new funds for expansion; Qualcomm lays off 120 in Israel.

Emil Salman

Hola raises $17 million from France’s Orange, Publicis

Hola, a video distribution network for publishers, said Wednesday it had raised $17 million in a funding round led by Iris Capital, a strategic partnership between France’s Orange and Publicis Groupe. The investment is Orange’s first in Israel since the French telecoms group earlier this year ended its licensing agreement with Partner Communications amid accusations that it was seeking to boycott Israel. Orange denied the accusations. Hola said it planned to use the funds to expand its payroll over the next 12 months to 200 employees from 75 today. Hola’s new content delivery network, which will be available in the fourth quarter after 12 video publishers participated in a pilot program, is said to increase speed and reliability of video viewing while lowering costs. Hola has raised $30 million since it was founded in 2013. (Amitai Ziv)

Compass wins $50 million in new funds for expansion

Compass, whose hyperlocal information networks match buyers and renters to homes, said on Tuesday it had raised a new $50 million in funding from investors led by Institutional Venture Partners. The round for the New York-based company, led by Israeli Ori Allon, included new investments from existing investors including Advance Publications, the parent company of Condé Nast; Kenneth Chenault, CEO of American Express; and Marc Benioff, founder and CEO of Salesforce.com. “This new funding will enable us to accelerate our expansion into additional markets [and] allow us to build out our industry-leading engineering, product and design teams,” said Allon, who owns the Israeli soccer team Hapoel Jerusalem. Compass said it was exploring expanding to Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, the Hamptons, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle. The company, now valued at $800 million, has raised $123 million to date. (Inbal Orpaz)

Startups defy ban on exhibiting over Sabbath, New Year

Israeli startups defied orders by Economy Minister Aryeh Dery, who is also chairman of the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party, to close the Israel pavilion at Amsterdam’s IBC technology conference and exhibition for the Sabbath and Rosh Hashanah. The directive would have mean shutting the pavilion for two of the five days the conference was on from September 11-15. Ministry employees, who were there to provide logistical help, observed Dery’s order, but representatives of a host of Israeli startups that had space in the pavilion turned up to show their wares and meet with conference participants, who number a record 55,000 “What message would we have been sending customers from all over the world, to come and see a closed pavilion?” asked Tal Barnoach, a venture capitalist who led the fight to keep the pavilion open. “The company I invested in planned its booth for months and invested a lot of money in this exhibit.” (Inbal Orpaz) 

Qualcomm lays off 120 in Israel

Qualcomm, a maker of chips used in wireless devices, has laid off about 120 staff in its Israel research and development center in recent weeks, joining the wave of firings gripping the global semiconductor industry, TheMarker has learned. Most of those who lost their jobs at Qualcomm worked at the company’s Haifa center, which became part of the company after it acquired Britain’s CSR last October for $2.5 billion. CSR entered Israel after it acquired the Israeli company Zoran. Qualcomm said in July it was looking to cut staffing by 15% worldwide, or 4,500 people, to squeeze $1.4 billion in annual savings. The U.S. company employed 500 people in Israel before the latest layoffs in R&D centers in Caesarea, Hod Hasharon and Haifa. Last December it fired 40-50 staff at a center it had in Beit Shemesh it had acquired when it bought the Israeli startup iSkoot in 2010. Qualcomm declined to comment. In July, the U.S. chip maker Marvell laid off 150 people, but Intel took as many as 70 of them. (Inbal Orpaz)