TechNation

State of Mind Ventures Now Seeking $75 Million

U.K. Bookmaker buys stake in Israeli startup NeoGames; startup behind Facetune app raises $10 million; website crowdsources wisdom on early childhood.

Reuters

State of Mind ventures now seeking $75 million

State of Mind Ventures, a new venture capital fund, said Wednesday it was boosting its fundraising target by 50% to $75 million. The fund, which is led by ex-8200 officer Pinchas Buchris and Yuval Baharav, a former partner in the U.S. VC Sequoia, only closed the first round of its fundraising a month ago. Since it launched at the start of the year, the fund said it had won commitments from investors equal to half the amount it is seeking from Israeli, American and European investors. Among them is Mivtah Shamir, the holding company, which pledged $8 million. State of Mind will invest in early-stage startups in the fields of big data, space, communications, cyber, cloud computing and computer vision. It has invested in four startups to date. (Yoram Gabison and Inbal Orpaz)

U.K. Bookmaker buys stake in Israeli startup NeoGames

Britain’s largest bookmaker William Hill said Tuesday it had acquired 29.4% of the Israeli startup NeoGames to enter the emerging online lottery market. William Hill said it paid $25 million in cash for the stake in NeoGames, which has developed a digital scratch card and provides online lottery software and services provider mainly in the United States. “This agreement gives William Hill good optionality in a new market that is increasingly attractive to gambling customers,” CEO James Henderson said. William Hill said it had an option to buy the remaining 70.6% of NeoGames, which can be exercised after three or five years. It said it also agreed to fund a $15 million working capital facility if required for the startup, which is registered in Luxembourg but operates out of Tel Aviv. (Inbal Orpaz)

Startup behind Facetune app raises $10 million

Lightricks, a Jerusalem-based startup whose technology helps people spruce up portrait photos, said Wednesday it raised $10 million. The investment, which was led by the Israeli venture capital fund Carmel Ventures, will be used to develop its image-processing technology, most notably the popular selfie app Facetune. It will also use the proceeds to enhance its photo-editing app Enlight, develop new products and expand its payroll from the current 30, said CEO and cofounder Zeev Farbman. The fundraisng was the first for the startup since it was formed two years ago. Charging $3.99 for its apps, Lightricks expects to earn about $10 million in revenue this year. Facetune alone counts 4.5 million users, the company said. (Inbal Orpaz)

Website crowdsources wisdom on early childhood

Baby.croinc.org, a website developed by Ayelet and Eli Ben-Sasson, a married couple who are faculty members at University of Haifa and the Technion, respectively, was launched this week that enables parents to monitor their child’s development using crowd wisdom. Structured as an electronic diary for parents, Baby.croinc enables them to compare their children’s development milestones with those of other children through age six. Eli, a professor of computer science, brought his expertise in algorithms to the project while Ayelet, an occupational therapy professor, contributed her expertise in early childhood development. “The advantage of crowd wisdom is especially great when you’re dealing with complex phenomena, and early childhood development is as complex, mysterious and important as it gets,” said Eli Ben-Sasson. (TheMarker Staff)