TechNation: Juul’s Owner Altria Shutters Green Smoke

Adobe to shut Israeli development center ■ Vacation pricing site Fornova buys business intel startup HotelsBI ■ Regulator calls for cryptocurrency platform

Juul brand vaping pens are seen for sale in a shop in New York City, U.S., February 6, 2019.
Mike Segar/Reuters

Adobe to shut Israeli development center

American software giant Adobe announced on Tuesday that it would be shutting its Israeli development center at the end of October. The office has some 25 employees, who are due to be laid off. Insightera became Adobe’s Tel Aviv development center after it was acquired by Mercado in 2013 for an estimated $25 million, and Mercado in turn was bought by Adobe last year for some $4.75 billion. Insightera develops automatic marketing tools that enabled websites to offer personalized deals to website visitors. (Irad Atzmon Schmayer) 

Juul’s owner Altria shutters Green Smoke

Cigarette and tobacco giant Altria shuttered Israeli subsidiary Green Smoke’s operations, the company announced. Green Smoke was acquired by Altria in 2014 for $110 million, and was developing electronic cigarettes. The official announcement had been issued in December, and Green Smoke recently sent out its own announcements that it was ceasing operations. Green Smoke was founded in 2008, and manufactured tobacco-free electronic cigarettes at its Beit Shemesh factory, which had some 150 employees at the time of its acquisition. They are expected to be laid off. Altria, which owns among others the cigarette manufacturer Phillip Morris and the popular e-cigarette Juul, bought Green Smoke via subsidiary Nu Mark. (Sagi Cohen)

Vacation pricing site Fornova buys business intel startup HotelsBI

Fornova, which develops a platform to improve pricing for vacation websites, announced on Monday that it had bought business intelligence startup HotelsBI. HotelsBI’s service enables hotels to save on operating expenses. The deal is thought to be a modest one, with part of the payment based on the company meeting business goals. Fornova enables vacation websites such as Booking.com to improve their pricing based on real-time data. HotelsBI uses big data to reduce operating expenses by analyzing all reservation, including details about the customers. (Irad Atzmon Schmayer)

Regulator calls for cryptocurrency platform

The state’s market regulator on Wednesday recommended creating a platform to trade cryptocurrencies under enhanced regulation, which would allow companies to raise money by issuing digital tokens to investors. The recommendation came from a committee at the Israel Securities Authority (ISA) that studied the sector for nearly two years. “The excitement that defined the field in 2017 has cooled off, but the technology is here to stay,” ISA Chair Anat Guetta said. She was referring to “distributed ledger” technology that underpins virtual currencies like bitcoin, and is now used by companies raising money with digital tokens as an alternative to traditional stock. The committee’s report mentioned other exchanges, such as in London and Australia, that are studying similar options.(Reuters)