NBA’s Omri Casspi invests in nutritional startup after using its product himself
Israeli hoops star Omri Casspi is doing some high-tech investing on the side. The former Golden State Warriors forward is putting an undisclosed sum of money into the Israeli startup DayTwo, whose founders include the tech entrepreneur/investor Marius Nacht. Originally developed at the Weizmann Institute, DayTwo’s technology provides dietary advice after it has mapped and analyzed the microbes in a user’s gut. A person’s microbiome can predict blood-sugar responses to different foods, and help avoid energy dips, excessive hunger, weight gain and the risk of obesity and diabetes. Casspi became an investor after using the system. “For the first time in my career I’ve adopted a personal nutrition plan based on the kind of activities I do,” he said. “There were foods and food combinations recommended to me by world-leading experts throughout my career that didn’t necessarily fit my needs.” DayTwo was formed in 2015 by Nacht, Chairman Yuval Ofek and CEO Lihi Segal. (Eliran Rubin)
Israel planning one of the world’s biggest solar-energy fields
Far behind in meeting its targets for renewable energy, Israel’s Energy Ministry announced on Tuesday that it was going to seek bids to build the country’s biggest-ever solar energy field. The 500-megawatt photovoltaic field, which will spread out over 6,000 dunams (1,500 acres) near the Negev town of Dimona, will also be among the largest in the world, the ministry said. Israel was supposed to generate 5% of its energy from renewable technology by 2014 but by last year the figure was just 2%. Some of the designated land will be turned over to the government by the army, which is now using it as a firing range. When it comes on line in 2025, as officials hope, the field will account for a fifth of Israel’s renewable energy generation under the terms of the Paris climate accords, they said. The plan still needs final approval from the government before bidding gets under way in 2020. (Ora Coren)
Hailo raises $12.5 million for chip designed for AI applications
Hailo, which is developing a chip for artificial intelligence applications in autonomous vehicles, drones, and smart home appliances, said on Tuesday it had raised $12.5 million from investors. They included the crowd-funding manager Ourcrowd.com; the auto-tech funds Maniv Mobility and Next Gear; as well as Hailo Chairman Zohar Zisapel and Delek Motors CEO Gil Agmon. The company said it would use the proceeds to further develop its deep-learning processor. Hailo’s deep learning processor, which is slated to enter the market in the first half of 2019, will run embedded AI applications on edge devices installed in personal assistants, smart cameras and smart TVs, with a focus on the automotive industry. The startup was formed last year by a group of army intelligence veterans. Among them was the Israel Prize winner Rami Feig, who died shortly afterwards after drowning. The latest funding round brings the total raised to date by the Tel Aviv-based company to $16 million. (Eliran Rubin)
BlueVine nabs $60 million for its small-business-loan platform
BlueVine, which provides online loans to small businesses, said on Tuesday it had closed on $60 million in new equity funding in a round led by the U.S. venture fund Menlo Ventures. Other new investors included SVB Capital, and all major existing investors also participated, the company said. Proceeds will be used to expand the startup’s invoice factoring and business line of credit products, and add new products. The California-based startup, founded in 2013 by Israelis Eyal Lifshitz, Moti Shatner and Nir Klar, will also accelerate hiring at its Tel Aviv research and development center. The latest fundraising comes just a month after BlueVine established a $200 million credit line with Credit Suisse to fund the loans it provides. All told, the company has raised $128 million in equity and $400 million via credit lines to provide a cumulative $1 billion in financing. BlueVine employs 200 people, 70 of them in Tel Aviv.