TechNation: Playtika to Invest Up to $400 Million in Israeli Tech

WeissBeeger beverage monitoring startup sold to Anheuser-Busch InBev ■ Intel exported $3.6 billion from Israel in 2017 ■ Moshe Hogeg setting up virtual currency fund that is expected to raise major sums ■ Israeli venture capital funds ramps up their first investment deals last year

Eliyahu Hershkovitz

Playtika to invest up to $400 million in Israeli tech

Mobile games developer Playtika said on Monday that it is setting up a new business, that plans to invest up to $400 million in Israeli digital entertainment and consumer internet firms as well as games companies globally. Playtika Growth Investments will target companies that are already profitable or near break-even and have proven business models and products, the company said, noting that portfolio companies will have access to Playtika’s marketing, analytics, technology and product teams. Playtika, which has spent over $300 million buying more than 10 companies since it was founded in 2010, was acquired in 2016 by a Chinese private equity consortium led by Giant Network Group for $4.4 billion. The Israeli-based maker of casino-style games for social networks has annual revenue of more than $1.1 billion and employs over 1,700 people in 10 countries. Eric Rapps, managing director of Playtika Growth, told Reuters that a “very significant majority” of the $400 million will be invested in Israel. (Reuters)

WeissBeeger beverage monitoring startup sold to Anheuser-Busch InBev

WeissBeeger, a Tel Aviv-based startup that developed technology that monitors beverage consumption at restaurants and bars for beer and soft drink manufacturers, has been sold to the world’s largest beer manufacturer, Belgium-based Anheuser-Busch InBev, the startup announced on Friday. WeissBeeger CEO and co-founder Omer Agiv said the sale of the company will result in Weissbeeger becoming Anheuser-Busch InBev’s research and development center in Israel. The sale price for the startup was not disclosed and the firm declined to provide other figures, such as the amount of capital that it has raised since its founding in 2010. Agiv did say that the firm has 82 employees, all of whom – including the founders -- will continue with the company under its new owners. A report by the Deloitte accounting firm said the company’s revenues jumped 450% between 2013 and 2016. According to CrunchBase, the company has raised $10 million from investors including Israel Cleantech Ventures, Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors (in which Google’s Eric Schmidt is a founding partner) and iAngels. (Ruti Levy)

Intel exported $3.6 billion from Israel in 2017

Multinational chipmaker Intel exported $3.6 billion worth of products from Israel last year, the company said in a summary released Monday in a wrap-up of the company’s 2017 local business activity. Among the highlights, the company noted that it has an Israeli workforce of 11,000, in addition to the 1,000 employees of Mobileye, the Jerusalem-based autonomous driving and collision-avoidance tech firm that Intel acquired last year. Underlining its contribution to the Israeli economy, Intel said that last year it invested $6 billion in its continued upgrade of its chip plant in Kiryat Gat and over the past decade it has purchased $10 billion in goods and services from Israeli suppliers and accounted for $50 billion of the country’s exports. (The Marker)

Moshe Hogeg setting up virtual currency fund that is expected to raise major sums

Entrepreneur and investor Moshe Hogeg is in the process of setting up a hedge fund that is to invest in virtual currencies such as bitcoin. Employees of Hogeg’s firm, which is to be established within the coming month, said the fund is expected to raise hundreds of millions of dollars. The hedge fund doesn’t yet have a name, but it is to be managed separately from Hogeg’s venture capital fund Singulariteam. Hogeg has refused to confirm the plans and the Hogeg group issued a statement saying that “no strategic decision has been taken on the matter.“ Hogeg said: “When there is something to report, we will do so. I’m not in a situation in which I have to raise a lot.” Sources have said that investors are “waiting in line” and that the fund has commitments from investors and that Hogeg has signed employment contracts with members of a management team and has begun paying them. The fund will apparently be registered in the Cayman Islands or another tax haven. (Shelly Appelberg and Eliran Rubin)

Israeli venture capital funds ramped up their first investment deals last year

Israeli venture capital funds increased their activity in 2017 with 212 first-investment deals, an 18% increase over 2016, the IVC Research Center reported on Monday. Vertex Israel topped the list with 12 first investments, the IVC Research Center said, followed by the eMoon Partners life sciences fund at 11 and three funds that shared third place, F2 Capital, iAngels Seed Fund and Mindset Ventures, each of which made ten new investments. “Foreign funds performed 233 new deals holding 52% of the total – the lowest share in five years,” the IVC Research Center report added. (TheMarker)