TechNation: CodeMonkey, Which Teaches Children Computer Coding, Sold to China’s TAL

InnovoPro raises funds ■ Playtika buys German games maker Wooga ■ Shin Bet to grant money to more companies

TAL and CodeMonkey representatives, December 4, 2018.
VFP Photo

CodeMonkey, which teaches children computer coding, sold to China’s TAL

CodeMonkey, an Israeli startup that has developed games to teach computer coding, said Tuesday it had been acquired by the Chinese company TAL Education Group for $15 million. Traded on stock markets in China and the United States, TAL provides after-school tutoring services in China for students from elementary through high school. TAL stands for Tomorrow Advancing Life. “TAL is an ideal partner for CodeMonkey, which will let us accelerate our entry into the Chinese market – a country we deemed a key market several years ago – and support expansion of our operations in the U.S. and elsewhere around the world,” said CodeMonkey CEO Jonathan Schor. Founded in 2013, CodeMonkey has raised $2 million, most of it from Invictus Capital and the company EduLab. For the past four years it’s game-based lessons have been used in 2,000 Israeli schools every year to teach 250,000 students. (Irad Atzmon Schmayer)

InnovoPro raises $4.2 million to develop foods using chickpea proteins

InnovoPro, which is developing high-tech foods using proteins derived from chickpeas, said Tuesday it had raised $4.2 million. The backers include Erel Margalit, the founder of the Jerusalem Venture Partners funds, the Swiss retailer Migros and the Chinese venture capital fund Bits x Bites. Founded three years ago, InnovoPro claims to be the first company to produce protein concentrate from chickpeas and has developed prototype products such as egg-free mayonnaise, the first of which will reach the market in 2019. “In view of the global food scarcity issues, the world cannot continue consuming meat and dairy food as it does today,” Margalit said. “As the world’s population continues to grow, we need to find new, sustainable food solutions. InnovoPro’s development is a global breakthrough poised to revolutionize the way the world consumes protein.” InnovoPro said it would use the proceeds to scale production, support sales and expand into strategic markets. (Ora Coren)

Playtika buys German mobile games maker Wooga for an estimated $100 million

The Israeli mobile gaming firm Playtika said Monday it had bought German rival Wooga in a deal estimated at more than $100 million. Playtika, which offers a number of online games, said the acquisition was part of its strategy to diversify into other types of games such as those with stories and adventures. It noted that its acquisition a year ago of Jelly Button Games had seen 12-fold revenue growth. “We see great opportunities for Playtika in the casual games genre and our acquisition of Wooga firmly positions us for this next phase of our evolution,” said Robert Antokol, Playtika’s chief executive. Playtika said the acquisition would combine Wooga’s story-driven capabilities with Playtika’s data-driven personalization and performance marketing expertise. “This combination will accelerate Wooga’s growth and further position Playtika as a serious competitor in the casual games arena,” it said. (Reuters)

Shin Bet security service unveils second round of tech accelerator program

With so much interest in the first round of its technology accelerator program, the Shin Bet security service is seeking startups to join a second round. The agency, which runs the program with Tel Aviv University’s TAU Ventures arm, said it would select nine companies for the program, which provides each company with a $50,000 research grant as well as mentoring advice – from university faculty as well. Seven companies were chosen for the first round six months ago from more than 100 applicants, and the Shin Bet has already benefited from access to the technology developed, said TAV Ventures partner Nimrod Cohen. “The program aims to expose the Shin Bet to civilian technology and see what use it can put it to,” he said. “If in the past technology breakthrough occurred in defense and then made its way to the civilian sector, today it’s the reverse.” The deadline for applications is December 30. (Irad Atzmon Schamyer)