TechNation: Yossi Vardi: Startup Nation Is a PR Bluff

Oramed in $50m pact with China’s Hefei; Verint laying off scores of Israeli staff.

Yossi Vardi has been one of the most prominent figures in Israel’s high-tech industry over the past 15 years. Credit: Ofer Vaknin

Yossi Vardi: Startup Nation is a PR bluff

Israel isn’t the Startup Nation it is cracked up to be and the rest of the business sector has to catch up, Yossi Vardi, one of the country’s legendary technology investors, told an industry conference last week. “It’s a public relations bluff. High-tech accounts for just 08.7% of the country’s labor force and all of it’s in the top two income deciles,” Vardi said. He urged Israel’s old-line manufacturing sector to become more tech-oriented. “Today every business can get into high-tech and any company that doesn’t won’t survive.” Adi Soffer-Teeni, CEO of Facebook Israel, said Israel should focus on its strengths in forming startups. “We should be playing the game we’re best at,” she said, but added not everyone is Israel could play it. “Rothschild Boulevard has two sides – one brings what we’ve always been good at – the ability to change and move quickly. The other isn’t ready to move at all,”  she said, referring to the Tel Aviv street that is an old, established residential area and a popular location for startups to set up their offices. (Ora Coren)

Oramed in $50m pact with China’s Hefei

Oramed Pharmaceuticals, a developer of oral drug delivery systems, said it signed $50 million in licensing and investment agreements with China’s Hefei Life Science & Technology Park Investments & Development for exclusive rights to sell Oramed’s oral insulin capsule in China, Hong Kong and Macau. Under the agreement, which was signed in the Knesset, Oramed will initially get $11 million for rights to its ORMD-0801 drug and another $27 million if it meets certain milestones. In addition, HLST will pay a 10% royalty on net sales of the related commercialized products. Oramed will issue HLST about 1.55 million restricted shares at $10.39 each, or a total of $12 million. “China recently became the country with the largest number of diabetics in the world . Our oral insulin capsule could help serve the growing population of people in China living with diabetes,” said Oramed CEO Nadav Kidron.
(TheMarker Staff)

Verint laying off scores of Israeli staff

Verint, whose software is used to sift through text messages, phone calls and emails to protect users against terror attacks and crime, is quietly laying off scores of Israeli staff, TheMarker has learned. No notice to investors has been released by the publicly traded company, but a spokesman told TheMarker the firing involved a very small number of the 4,900 people on its global payroll , only in certain operations and not just in Israel. They came in response to changing market conditions, the company said, but declined to say how many jobs were being cut. “At the same time, we continue to hire for other activities,” Verint said. “In cyber, for example, we continue to hire all the time.” Still, Verint’s Nasdaq-traded shares are down 30% since May after reporting disappointing earnings, including an $11.2 million loss attributable to shareholders and forecast earnings below market expectations.
(Shelly Appelberg)

Antitrust office won’t probe collusion between Yes and Hot

Israel’s Antitrust Authority said on Sunday it would not be investigating suspicions of price collusion between Israel’s two non-terrestrial broadcasters, the satellite TV company Yes and the cable company Hot. The authority said it uncovered no evidence of collusion. It made known its position to the Cable and Television Council, which said it has not yet approved the rate hikes and would only discuss the matter in December. The council’s chairwoman, Yifat Ben Hai Segev, told the two companies to freeze their proposed rate hikes until antitrust authorities had examined the matter. Yes announced it was increasing by 20% rates for video-on-demand services to 29.90 shekels ($7.72) a month, matching Hot’s rate. Shortly afterward Hot said it was raising rates for its triple packages of TV, Internet and phone service by 5%. (Nati Tucker and Amitai Ziv)