TechNation: Dropbox Set to Expand R&D Presence in Israel

Marius Nacht’s aMoon VC fund secures $250 million from Credit Suisse ■ IBI tech-investment fund gets crucial 50 million shekels from insurer Harel ■ U.S. VC General Catalyst mulling presence in Israel

FILE PHOTO: Dropbox Inc. co-founder Arash Ferdowsi waits to ring the opening bell on the Nasdaq Stock Market.
\ Lucas Jackson/ REUTERS

Marius Nacht’s aMoon VC fund secures $250 million from Credit Suisse

Life sciences venture capital fund aMoon, founded by Marius Nacht, the co-founder and chairman of Check Point Software Technologies, said on Wednesday it had secured a giant $250 million investment commitment from Credit Suisse. The money will go into the firm’s second fund, called aMoon II, said managing partner Yair Schindel. The Credit Suisse contribution, which is being made by its asset management and private banking divisions, brings the fund close to meeting its target of $500 million, he said. Last month the fund, which is investing in mid- to late-stage companies with a focus on fields like digital health, medical technology and biopharma in Israel, the United States and Europe, said it had raised $200 million from private investors. aMoon expects to raise the remainder of the money within the next few months from other financial institutions and wealthy individuals.The fund intends to invest $10 million to $40 million in 15 to 20 companies. (Assa Sasson)

Dropbox set to expand R&D presence in Israel

Dropbox, the U.S. file-sharing and storage company, plans to expand its Tel Aviv research and development center, hiring more staff and forming partnerships and acquisition opportunities in security and machine-learning. Israel’s education system and military service have created a pool of talented people working in cybersecurity and “that is something we deeply need to take advantage of,” Quentin Clark, who leads engineering, product and design at Dropbox, said on Tuesday during a visit to Israel. Dropbox established a presence in Israel in 2015 when it bought mobile productivity startup CloudOn. Clark said it was now looking for potential acquisitions in the fields of security and machine learning. He said he would be visiting universities in Israel this week to look at machine-learning technologies. Dropbox’s Tel Aviv development center, which focuses on enterprise administrative capabilities, has a staff of more than 40 people and may double in size, said Meir Morgenstern, head of the Israeli development center. (Reuters)

IBI tech-investment fund gets crucial 50 million shekels from insurer Harel

Investment house IBI took a major step forward to winning government backing for its planned high-tech fund after insurer Harel agreed to put 50 million shekels ($14 million) into it. That brings the total IBI has raised so far to 300 million shekels, which is still short of the 400 million it needs to qualify for government guarantees. But it brings IBI closer than four other firms struggling to raise the capital ahead of a June deadline. Harel came on board after IBI agreed to improve terms for investors, including cutting its management fee to 1.3%. The funds are a hybrid between a mutual fund and a venture capital fund that will be traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange and enable small investors a way to invest in startups as well as older tech companies. The IBI Techfund is using the expertise of academics to pick portfolio companies and will invest jointly with a group of private investors. (Assa Sasson)  

U.S. VC General Catalyst mulling presence in Israel 

David Fialkow, a founding partner of venture capital fund manager General Catalyst, took time for a visit to Israel to meet with entrepreneurs and get a better understanding of the tech landscape. In an interview with TheMarker, he said he expected that General Catalyst, one of the world’s biggest and most respected VC funds, would eventually establish a presence in Israel. In the meantime, he said the fund is looking at potential investments in startups focused on digital health and consumer products, such as online insurance and cyber-security. He described the cyber-security teams in Israel as the best in the world. General Catalyst, which over the years has invested in Airbnb, Kayak and Snapchat, closed a $1.375 billion fund in March. Fialkow recommended General Catalyst’s Rough Draft program as a good place for Israeli startups to turn. The program is run by students who invest sums of $25,000-$75,000 in student-led startups.  (Eliran Rubin)