TechNation: Israelis Develop Armored Backpack to Protect Against School Shootings

Walmart in deal to buy Israel’s Aspectiva ■ Insight buying Israeli Genesis funds portfolio ■ Kryon nabs $40m for process automation ■ Outbrain to buy German ads company

Elementary students attend classes in a Tel Aviv District, February 21, 2019.
Ilan Assayag

Walmart in deal to buy Israel’s Aspectiva

Walmart is coming to Israel – not to sell low-priced products at its superstores but to conduct research and development. The U.S. retailing giant said on Tuesday it had acquired Aspectiva, an Israeli startup whose technology analyzes consumer product reviews to help shoppers decide what to buy. It will be Walmart’s first-ever direct acquisition in Israel. Walmart did not say how much it paid for Aspectiva, but the amount was probably small: The startup has raised just $4 million since it was founded in 2013. Aspectiva will become a part of Store No. 8, an incubation arm launched by Walmart in 2017 to develop commerce-related technologies. Aspectiva’s machine-learning techniques and natural language processing capabilities “will have profound impact on how customers will shop in the future,” Store No. 8 principal Lori Flees said. Walmart has also invested in the Israeli cybersecurity incubator Team8 and launched a joint venture with Eko, an interactive media and technology company.(Irad Atzmon Schmayer)

Insight buying Israeli Genesis funds portfolio

Insight Venture Partners, a venture capital and private equity firm based in New York, said on Tuesday it would acquire the majority of the portfolio of Israeli venture capital fund Genesis Partners’ fourth fund for an undisclosed sum. Insight will take over the Genesis IV Fund’s stakes in 11 Israeli startups, including three that are also in Insight’s portfolio – Sisense, monday.com and JoyTunes. “Insight’s transition will provide our companies with a longer funding horizon to realize their full potential, while delivering liquidity to our long-standing investors,” said Eyal Kishon, co-founder and managing partner at Genesis. Insight has $20 billion of assets invested in more than 300 companies. Genesis, which is focused on early stage startups, manages over $600 million across four funds. Eddy Shalev, a genesis co-founder and partner, said the sale of the stakes would improve the ability of the 11 portfolio startups to win follow-on funding and allow Genesis’ own backers to cash out. (TheMarker Staff)

Kryon nabs $40m for process automation 

Kryon, an Israeli developer of robotic process automation technology, said on Tuesday it had raised $40 million in a financing round led by U.S. venture capital firm OAK HC/FT. Existing investors Aquiline Technology Growth and Vertex Ventures joined the round. The company said it intends to use the funds to further develop its technology and enter new markets. Kryon’s technology is used by companies such as AIG, American Express, HP and Microsoft to evaluate business processes and recommend which ones to automate. “If I’m, for example, a salesman, I can put a robot in my place to enter payment data into the computer, fill out forms and operate systems. These are things that take up 50% of the employee’s time and could be invested in doing other things,” Kryon CEO Harel Tayeb told TheMarker. The company has six offices spread across five countries employing 120 people. With the new funding, Kryon will be hiring 80 new staffers, 50 of them in Israel, Tayeb said. (Irad Atzmon Schmayer)

Outbrain to buy German ads company

Outbrain, the Israeli company known by hundreds of millions of web users around the world for its recommended content that appears on publishers’ websites, said on Tuesday it had agreed to acquire Germany’s Ligatus. Outbrain said the acquisition was an all-stock deal and didn’t disclose a valuation. A wholly owned subsidiary of Gruner + Jahr, which in turn is a Bertelsmann group company, Ligatus is a leading European-based native advertising solution provider with headquarters in Cologne and offices in Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands. Ligatus provides tailored and contextual advertising, commonly known as “native advertising,” alongside publisher content in a multi-device format. “This transaction will grow Outbrain’s footprint in key new European markets and open a premium group of Gruner + Jahr and Bertelsmann publishers to our advertisers,” said David Kostman, co-CEO of Outbrain. (Refaella Goichman)

Israelis develop armored backpack to protect against school shootings

Two former Israeli soldiers have developed an armored backpack to protect schoolchildren from shootings, Bloomberg News reported. Gabi Siboni, a reserves colonel, and a friend from the Golani Brigade use Kevlar panels on the backpacks they say can stop bullets from a 9 mm handgun or a .44 Magnum. Children don’t wear their backpacks all day, but usually have them close enough that they can put them on in case of an emergency, Siboni says. A canvas bag with a single panel sells for about $175 on ArmorMe’s website and on Amazon. A pack with two panels retails for $230. Each panel adds 750 grams to the bag’s weight. Siboni says his website  has received 30,000 click-throughs since launch. (TheMarker Staff)