TechNation: Tel Aviv to Charge Airbnb Renters Higher Municipal Tax Rate

Israeli startup Habana Labs opens Polish R&D center ■ Fundraising by Israeli cybersecurity startups exceeds $1 billion for first time

File photo: A group on a graffiti tour of Tel Aviv's Florentin neighborhood, May 26, 2017.
Moti Milrod

Tel Aviv to charge Airbnb renters higher municipal tax rate

Tel Aviv, home to a large and rapidly growing community of Airbnb renters, will begin charging many double the average arnona (municipal tax) rate starting this year. The city confirmed the reported plan Sunday night, saying the higher rate would apply only to those who rent out apartments for 90 days or more annually. The new, higher rate of 120.89 shekels (about $33) a square meter, the same rate luxury hotels now pay. “The new policy we are promoting as part of the municipal tax order for 2019 is designed to regulate the growing number of apartments that have become full-time vacation apartment businesses. In the long term, this raises the cost of housing for young people and the cost of living in the city,” the municipality said. It plans to identify who’s liable for the tax by monitoring the Airbnb’s site, assuming a city expert committee and Israel’s Interior Ministry approve of the idea. (Adi Cohen)

Israeli startup Habana Labs opens Polish R&D center

Israel’s Habana Labs said over the weekend it was opening a research and development center in Gdansk, Poland. Fresh from a $75 million fundraising round in November led by Intel Capital, the company it was hiring software developers and validation engineers for the new center. It declined to say why it was going abroad to conduct R&Dm but the decision appears to be in line with a growing trend among Israeli high-tech companies to outsource R&D and conduct more of it overseas due to high Israeli salaries and a growing shortage of skilled personnel in Israel. Startup Nation Central, an industry tracker, said last month that one in four tech companies now outsource. Founded in 2016 by David Dahan and Ran Halutz, both former executives at Prime Sense, Habana Labs develops processors for AI applications and employed 120 people as of November. Besides its Tel Aviv headquarters, it has offices in San Jose, California, and Beijing. (Irad Atzmon Schmayer)

Fundraising by Israeli cybersecurity startups exceeds $1 billion for first time

Israel’s cybersecurity sector raised in excess of $1 billion in new funding for the first time ever in 2018, a report by Startup Nation Central released on Monday said. Israeli cybersecurity startups raised $1.19 billion last year, a 47% increase over 2017 and a fivefold rise in four years, it said. That made Israel’s cybersecurity sector the largest in fundraising terms in the world after the United States, taking 20% of the overall venture-backed cyber security investments worldwide. Israel counted 450 active cybersecurity companies by the end of 2018, but the number of new firms being formed continued to shrink. Only 60 were formed in 2018, down from 75 in 2017 and 82 in 2016. Foreign VC investors continue to dominate the industry, participating in 65% of the deals. (TheMarker Staff)