TechNation: ISIS Reportedly Turns to Israeli-developed Messaging App

Israeli-Japanese Magenta tech fund seeks to raise $100 million ■ Israel’s election commission retains cybersecurity expert head of poll ■ Wiliot raises $30 million for battery-free Bluetooth technology

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Israeli-Japanese Magenta tech fund seeks to raise $100 million

Magenta Venture Partners, a partnership between Israeli venture capitalists and Japan’s Mitsui & Company, said on Monday it was raising $100 million to invest in Israel and its related startups. The fund, which raised its initial capital in October and plans to raise the rest this year, will focus on the automotive, mobility, artificial intelligence, smart cities, industry 4.0, enterprise software and fin tech sectors. It will be a rare tie-up between Israel’s Startup Nation and a leading Japanese firm like Mitsui, a trading and investment company. “Our fund is financially focused, but we look to invest in startups that not only look for capital but also seek value driven by the team’s experience in Japan, European Union and the United States,” said Ori Israely, one of two Israeli partners, along with Ran Levitzky. The other partners are Mitusi’s Hiroshi Takeuchi, who has relocated to Israel, and Atsushi Mizuno, who has been based in Israel for four years. (Irad Aztmon Schmayer)

Islamic State turns to Israeli messaging app

With the biggest social media platforms closed to Islamic State, the group has turned to other channels for its recruitment efforts, among them the Israeli-Japanese instant messaging app Viber. Wired magazine reported last week that the IS-affiliated Nashir News Agency opened an account on Viber in December. Although IS-linked groups and supporters have used the platform in the past, their official promotion of Viber signaled a new level of investment, Wired said.  The account drew hundreds of followers through links distributed through telegraph and other platforms. Viber quickly closed the account when it learned of the IS-linked account and said it would act to ensure IS didn’t open new ones. But Wired warned that its initial establishment on Viber is “likely encouraging other ISmedia groups and supporters create accounts on the platform.” Viber, founded by Israelis, was acquired by Japan’s Rakuten in 2014 for $900 million, but its operations have remained in Tel Aviv. (Amitai Aiv)

Israel’s election commission retains cybersecurity expert head of poll

Amid concerns that Israel will face hacking attacks ahead of its April 9 elections, the Central Elections Commission has retained Buki Carmeli, a former head of the government’s National Cyber Security Authority, as a consultant, TheMarker has learned. Carmeli’s credentials for the job include a project he once headed as head of the authority to map out the risks Israel would face in an election. He has also served for more than 20 years in the Israel Defense Forces’ 8200 intelligence unit and has led cybersecurity defense for the security establishment. Israel Television News Company reported last week that Shin Bet chief Nadav Argaman said an unnamed foreign country would intervene in Israel’s coming election, prompting a denial by Russia that it intended any interference. Although Israeli voters use paper ballots, hackers could access the commission’s computerized databases, the Israeli company Check Soft Technologies has warned. Neither Carmeli nor the commission would respond to the report. (Amitai Ziv)

Wiliot raises $30 million for battery-free Bluetooth technology

Wiliot, the Israeli-U.S. startup that has developed a tiny battery-free Bluetooth sensor tag, said on Monday it had raised $30 million in a round from Amazon Web Services, Samsung Venture Investment and Avery Dennison. The capital infusion follows the startup’s first-ever public demonstration of its ever sticker-sized Bluetooth sensor tag, which is powered solely by scavenging energy from ambient radio frequencies. The technology could be used to enable real-time tracking of products as they undergo the manufacturing process or a home to enable people to communicate with products to get instructions and reminders of when and how to use them. Wiliot-enabled containers could automatically reorder themselves when they are empty. “We are on the verge of dramatically changing the way products are made, how they are distributed, where and when they are sold, and how they are used and recycled,” said CEO and cofounder Tal Tamir. (Irad Atzmon Schmayer)