Alibaba makes first Israel investment in Visualead

Visualead makes QR codes out of other images, sprucing up the usual black-and-white pixelated image.

Alibaba (photo credit: PR)
(photo credit: PR)
China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba made its first investment in Israel on Tuesday in Visualead, a Herzliya-based company that specializes in QR codes and “offline to online” (O2O) technology.
“We have already seen O2O as a major area of growth in China,” said Zhang Kuo, director of Alibaba Group’s Mashangtao technology service. “Working with Visualead, a dynamic startup and first-mover in this field is the next logical step as we seek to enhance customer engagement on mobile platforms. We believe that Visualead’s leading Visual QR Code technology will complement our mobile marketing initiatives and enhance our ability to take advantage of the booming O2O opportunities in China.”
QR codes are square-shaped equivalents of a bar code that a smartphone can scan and redirect users to web pages, apps or other Internet sites. Advertisers use them to give people who come across them in person – whether through print, street signs or other advertisements – an easy way to access their product online.
Visualead makes QR codes out of other images, sprucing up the usual black-and-white pixelated image. That allows advertisers to incorporate the code into the ad’s main images instead of isolating it on the side.
The company also has ways of making the codes readable on video screens, adapting them to the changing images behind them.
Alibaba, the largest online and mobile commerce company in the world, also entered a strategic agreement to use Visualead’s technology through the group’s ecosystem.
“Alibaba is the ideal strategic partner for distributing our technology in China and the leading O2O company worldwide.
We are humbled to have Alibaba as a shareholder and on our board of directors, committed to making our Visual QR Code the new worldwide standard for offline to online engagement,” said Visualead CEO Nevo Alva.
A delegation from Alibaba came to Israel last month and met with hi-tech entrepreneurs.
Another global company, Samsung, also announced an investment in an Israeli company Tuesday. EarlySense, which creates contact free monitoring technology for medical devices, received $10 million in investment from Samsung Ventures out of a total $20m. in new funding.
“We invest in companies that are paving the way for their respective industries.
EarlySense has developed and brought to market a unique, breakthrough technology that will improve the lives of consumers through health parameter sensing and monitoring,” said Gonzalo Martinez de Azagra, head of Samsung Ventures Israel.
Samsung Electronics President and CEO BK Yoon highlighted Ramat Gan company EarlySense during his keynote address at CES 2015 in Las Vegas earlier this month.