TechNation: PayPal Laying Off Scores of Israeli Employees

Israel R&D team at center of Facebook cryptocurrency plans ■ Payoneer weighing IPO or fundraiser, but not anytime soon ■ Portuguese utility makes strategic investment in cybersecurity startup Serpio

FILE PHOTO: The PayPal app logo seen on a mobile phone in this illustration photo October 16, 2017.
\ Thomas White/ REUTERS

Israel R&D team at center of Facebook cryptocurrency plans

Facebook’s Tel Aviv research and development center has become an important part of the company’s plans to launch its own cryptocurrency sometime in 2020. Facebook has been expanding the local team and is currently looking for a product manager and user experience researcher in Israel, according to its website. Facebook’s cryptocurrency plans have been largely shrouded in secrecy, but David Marcus, the former PayPal president now in charge of blockchain initiatives at Facebook, revealed last October that the Tel Aviv R&D center was at the center of the project. In December, Bloomberg News reported that the cryptocurrency was being designed to let users transfer money by means of its WhatsApp messaging app, starting in India. The Facebook coin will be a so-called “stablecoin” – a digital currency pegged to the U.S. dollar to minimize volatility, sources told Bloomberg. If Facebook does launch its cryptocurrency, it would be the first major technology company to do so. (Sagi Cohen)

Payoneer weighing IPO or fundraiser, but not anytime soon

Payoneer, the U.S.-Israeli provider of cross-border payment services, is exploring the options of an initial public offering or raising additional capital, but won’t be taking any major steps anytime soon, Chief Operating Officer Keren Levy said on Monday. Her email to employees came amid rumors that the company was planning an IPO or putting itself up for sale sometime this year. But without addressing speculation about a sale, Levy said, “What I can say for sure, is that we will consider carefully all our options and take steps that will help us to live up to our aspirations, keep growing the business, expanding our offering and bringing long-term value to our customers, partners and our global team. There’s really nothing to report at the moment.” Payoneer employs 1,200 people, 830 of them at its offices in Petah Tikva, Israel, and has annual revenues estimated at $400 million. Since it was founded in 2005, it has raised $270 million. (Ruti Levy)

Portuguese utility makes strategic investment in cybersecurity startup Sepio Systems

Energias de Portugal, one of Europe’s major electricity operators, made a strategic investment in U.S.-Israeli cybersecurity company Sepio Systems, Sepio announced on Monday. Financial terms were not disclosed. EDP, one of the world’s largest wind-power operators, is expanding partnerships in cybersecurity to strengthen connectivity and resilience that are vital to infrastructure, and to advance new business opportunities. The firm’s Sepio Prime product is designed to mitigate hardware-based attacks, including rogue peripherals, invisible network devices and manipulated firmware. It has been deployed in over 20 banks, insurance and telecom companies in the United States, Singapore, Brazil and Israel, securing over 600,000 workstations and network ports. The partnership with EDP will help Sepio Systems accelerate development and deployment of its technology among utilities, financial institutions and large enterprises in Europe, Sepio said. Also participating in the investment was Mindset Ventures, an international venture capital firm, and existing investors Pico Venture Partners and Founders Group. 
(TheMarker Staff)

PayPal laying off scores of Israeli employees

Scores of Israeli employees of the global payments company PayPal are being laid off in a move the company said was linked to a worldwide reorganization and not to poor business. PayPal confirmed that an unnamed number of staff had been called in for a legally mandated hearing before a decision on laying them off is made, and said some of them may be offered other jobs in the company in Israel or abroad. The reorganization affects employees in Israel and two other countries. “PayPal has had a significant Israeli presence for more than a decade and the Tel Aviv research and development center will continue to play a major part in our operations,” it said. PayPal has conducted R&D in Israel since it acquired the Israeli startup Fraud Sciences in 2008 and later expanded operations to the Be’er Sheva cybersecurity tech park with the 2015 purchase of CyOptics. The latter was closed two years later. (Irad Atzmon Schmayer)