(photo credit: INGIMAGE / ASAP)
Viola Ventures, the nation’s largest venture capital firm, crossed the $1 billion mark for assets under management dedicated to early-stage, hi-tech investments, the Herzliya-based company announced last week.
Its most recent funding commitments will total more than $170 million. Viola Ventures – formerly known as Carmel Ventures – is part of the Viola Group, Israel’s largest technology investment group with some $2.8 billion in its portfolio of five funds under its control.
The early-stage, hi-tech fund invests in fledgling companies and writes checks ranging from $2m. and $10m., Viola Ventures partner Omry Ben David said, adding that its billion dollar-size wields more potency in the Israeli hi-tech ecosystem than in the much larger American economy.
“Tech in Israel is booming. It’s a great ecosystem for innovation. You have many entrepreneurs who are changing the world via technology. And despite being a small country, we manage as a country to really provide leadership in the world with some of our technology capabilities,” said Ben David.
“The world recognizes it and every day you read about multinational corporations and big enterprises which view Israel as a focal point for innovation; companies like Facebook and Google and Amazon are expanding their R&D centers, their artificial intelligence innovation is here.”
Viola Ventures invests in companies from several industries, including financial- technology, bio-technology, autonomous driving, the Internet of Things, aggregated reality and virtual reality, and cybersecurity. Another focus, artificial intelligence, is being adopted across multiple fields simultaneously, as AI provides a way to code software and leverage an algorithm in order to generate insight from big data that previously was not possible.
The firm has invested in some of Israel’s multi-million- dollar start-ups, including Tel Aviv-based digital content company IronSource, Petah Tikva-based online payment firm Payoneer, Netanya Web advertiser Outbrain, Tel Aviv-based entertainment platform firm Playbuzz, and database management company Redis Labs, which has its Research & Development offices in Tel Aviv.
“We are 100% focused on Israeli-related companies,” said Ben David. “So the direct attention of all our partners, our commitment and our decision-making is only done locally by an Israeli firm, rather than being part of a satellite office.”
The latest fund was raised from returning Israeli investors and new investors from the US, Asia and Europe. Viola Ventures is the only Israel- based venture fund with six investing partners, significant for its heft and sole focus on early-stage technology startups.
New partners joining the firm include Ben David and Zvika Orron.
Viola was founded in 2000 and the firm has been behind some of Israel’s most lucrative start-up exits, including those of Actimize, RedBend, DesignArt, CopperGate, Exelate and ECI. The venture capital firm has invested in more than 150 tech companies to date.