TechNation / Cellphone Griping Falls as Competition Grows

Santander invests $5 million in MyCheck; Indians eyeing Startup Nation opportunities; More startups raised money at lower valuations in 2014; Three startups on 150-person hiring spree.

Tali Mayer

Santander invests $5 million in MyCheck

The venture capital arm of the Spanish bank Santander said on Wednesday it was investing $5 million in the Israeli startup MyCheck and its mobile-payment technology. The investment by Santander InnoVentures Fund is the first in an investment round MyCheck is undertaking. The proceeds will be used by MyCheck to expand in the United States and Western Europe, bolster sales and marketing and enhance business intelligence. Santander said that as part of the deal it will lend the expertise it has gleaned from 100 million retail and commercial clients. MyCheck was formed in 2011 by CEO Shlomit Kugler, Erez Spatz and Tal Zvi Nathanel and counts supermodel Bar Rafeli as an investor. (TheMarker Staff),

Indians eyeing Startup Nation opportunities

Indian investors are deepening their presence in Israeli high-tech. Tech Mahindra said Monday it would invest $20 million over the next few years in buying Israeli startups, after it bought the Israeli company Leadcom in December when it acquired Lightbridge Communications Corporation. Sources said Leadcom’s acquisitions budget would likely grow. Meanwhile, Bloomberg News reported Wednesday that Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani is looking for startups in Israel and Silicon Valley that would support his growing ecommerce and phone services businesses in India. GenNext Ventures, which is part of Ambani ‘s Reliance Industries, has been talking to VCs and private equity investors in the two countries and Britain to identify targets, Managing Partner Vivek Rai Gupta said in an interview. (TheMarker Staff)

More startups raised money at lower valuations in 2014

Just 68% of all Israeli startups that raised capital last year did so at a higher valuation than in their previous round, down from 80% in 2013, according to a survey by the law firm Shiboleth & Company in cooperation with the U.S. firm Fenwick & West. The percentage of companies that raised money at a lower valuation grew to 23%, the highest since 2011. In Silicon Valley, 78% of all startups raising money did so at a higher valuation and only 8% did so at a lower valuation. Lior Aviram, who heads Shiboleth’s high-tech practice, estimated that Israeli startups are valued 25% to 50% less than their Silicon Valley peers, but he said the Israeli market remains “healthy.” (Inbal Orpaz)

Cellphone griping falls as competition grows

For consumers, competition not only brought down rates for cellphones but also led to better service from Israel’s telecom’s providers. Since the market was thrown open to competition in 2012, the number of consumer complaints has dropped 35% to just 9,506 last year, the Communications Ministry said on Tuesday, citing a consumer survey. Partner Communications provided the least gripe-worthy service, with just 3.2 complaints for every 10,000 customers. Youphone was next with four, followed by Cellcom Israel (4.5) and Pelephone (5.6,) but Rami Levy failed with 10.7, according to the ministry. It said 90% of all complaints were concluded to the consumer’s satisfaction, up from 83% in 2013. (Amitai Ziv)

Three startups on 150-person hiring spree

Three Israeli startups are on the hunt for 150 new employees. TradAir, a Ramat Hahayal company that develops foreign-currency trading technology, said this week it is seeking 20 new staff in Java development and quality assurance after it raised $15 million in January from investors. Meanwhile, Zemingo Group of Herzliya, a designer of mobile applications, is looking for 50 hires to add to its staff of 75, in development, design and marketing. The company has been expanding after buying YellowTale last year and expanding its PandaPepper unit. ClickTale, which develops customer-experience analytics, is hiring 80 new employees to add to its workforce of 180. The startup recently raised $35 million to expand its global presence. (Tali Heruti-Sover)