Tech Nation: Allianz Invests in Israeli-led Insurance Startup Lemonade

Private equity fund Fortissimo takes stake in Biological Industries; Pelephone gets approval to retire aging 2G phone service

The Allianz SE logo on a top of a building in Berlin, Germany, January 4, 2017.
Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

Allianz invests in Israeli-led insurance startup Lemonade

The giant German insurer Allianz SE announced on Friday that it had made a “strategic investment” in Lemonade Insurance Company. Based in New York and founded and led by two Israelis, Lemonade leverages artificial intelligence and behavioral economics to sell policies. The two companies didn’t disclose the terms of the investment. “We will look for ways to collaborate, respecting the fact that Lemonade is a small company confronting a large, challenging market in the United States. There are potential synergies and our partnership will allow us to explore our joint potential over time,” said Allianz Chief Digital Officer Solmaz Altin. Lemonade has raised $60 million since it was founded in New York 18 months ago by Daniel Schreiber and Shai Wininger. The online company began selling homeowners and renters insurance in New York in September and in April it was approved to operate in Illinois as well. Lemonade offers low-cost policies and allows holders to submit claims within minutes on their mobile devices. (Eliran Rubin and Assa Sasson)

Private equity fund Fortissimo takes stake in Biological Industries

Fortissimo Capital, an Israeli private equity fund, is investing 40 million shekels ($11 million) in Biological Industries, TheMarker has learned. Owned by Kibbutz Beit Ha’emek, Biological Industries supplies the life sciences industry with products ranging from classical cell culture media to supplements and reagents for stem cell research, products that eventually could be used to grow artificial organs. The fund is purchasing 32% of the company, with an option to increase its stake to 50%. The 40 million shekels will be used to buy out existing shareholders, drive marketing in the United States and Asia, expand research and development and build a new factory. Founded in 1981, Biological Industries markets some 50 products and has more than 100 employees. The company has offices in China, France and the United States. (Eran Azran)

Pelephone gets approval to retire aging 2G phone service

Pelephone, the mobile telephony unit of Bezeq, will soon be returning its ancient (by cellular standards) CDMA network after getting approval from the Communications Ministry this week. First introduced in 1992, CDMA marked the second generation of cellular technology and was the first to use digital encryption of conversations, data services and SMS text messaging. Pelephone moved nearly all its customers to 3G GSM technology in 2009, but a few holdout customers still use CDMA, among them civil servants. They will be notified of the change and offered new phones with the same numbers  before the aging network is but down July 30, the Communications Ministry said. Although retiring CDMA was a ministry initiative, aimed at putting Israel’s limited free bandwidth to more efficient use, Pelephone will be able to save the costs of operating the network and paying for a frequency license. It will continue to operate 3G UMTS and 4G LTE service. (Amitai Ziv)