Tech Buzz: HoneyBook and Autobrains continue funding momentum

Israeli start-ups raised more than $3 billion in October, a record month that brings the current total for the year to nearly $21b.

Honeybook's leaders. (photo credit: Courtesy)
Honeybook's leaders.
(photo credit: Courtesy)

The Start-Up Nation continues to operate in hyper-growth mode into November.

Israeli start-ups raised more than $3 billion in October, a record month that brings the current total for the year to nearly $21b. That’s more than twice as was raised in all of 2020, with still two months left.

HoneyBook, a platform for independent business owners to manage their client flow and cash flow, closed a huge $250 million Series E equity round led by Tiger Global Management. The round doubled the company’s valuation to $2.4b. Founded in 2013 in Tel Aviv, HoneyBook combines tools like billing, contracts and client communication to help business owners get organized. As more American workers quit their jobs during what is becoming known as the ‘Great Resignation,’ HoneyBook member’s businesses have booked more than $1.9b. on the platform in 2021 alone, the company said.

Autobrains, which develops self-learning artificial intelligence technology for assisted and autonomous driving, raised $101m. in Series C financing led by Singapore-based investment firm Temasek. A number of automotive manufacturers also participated in the round. The company says its driver-assistance systems offer superior performance, with lower costs and processing needs than other solutions on the market. The three-year-old Tel Aviv-based company said it will use the funds to grow its commercial reach into new global markets.

Illumigyn (stylized as illumigyn), the world’s first remote gynecological imaging platform, raised $33m. to accelerate its plans to bring cutting-edge gynecological imaging to women across the globe. The company offers a complete platform featuring a revolutionary “gynecology endoscope” and cloud platform service with an accompanying mobile application. The Neveh Ilan-based company will begin this month deploying in the US, United Arab Emirates, India, Singapore and South Korea.

An electronic board displaying market data is seen at the entrance of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, in Tel Aviv, Israel (credit: REUTERS)An electronic board displaying market data is seen at the entrance of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, in Tel Aviv, Israel (credit: REUTERS)

Lumigo, a cloud-native application monitoring and debugging platform, announced $29m. in new funding, the largest ever investment in the world of serverless technology. The Series A round brings Lumigo’s total funding to $37m., and was led by RedLine Capital. Since leaving stealth in 2019, Lumigo’s product is now used by hundreds of companies. Lumigo will use the new investment to double its 30-person core team, recruiting more marketers and developers.

Velocity, a Tel Aviv-based start-up accelerating the way developers build and deliver products, raised a $17m. in a Series A round led by Insight Partners. The investment, which brings the company’s total funding to $22m., will enable Velocity to expand its team and allow developers to streamline and expedite product development. Founded in late 2020, Velocity recently came out of stealth mode into beta and is already ahead of its product road map, onboarding customers and hiring rapidly, it said.

Vensica Therapeutics closed an investment round of $16m. led by the Israel Biotech Fund. Vensica’s needle-free platform for drug deliveries will be utilized for botulinum toxin type A delivery into the urinary bladder for the treatment of different urological indications, offering a better patient experience than standard treatments available today. The funds raised will support the company’s phase II multicenter clinical trials in Europe and the US, it said.

Agora, whose software platform manages data of investments and assets for the real estate industry, raised $9m. in a seed funding round led by Aleph. Founded in 2019, Agora has grown eightfold over the last year in the United States, reaching more than $20b. in assets under management and 6,000 investors using the platform on a daily basis. The funds will help to further develop its software and expand its activity in the US.

BetterSeeds said it closed a $2m. investment as part of a $7m. round of funding. BetterSeeds applies and improves the CRISPR-cas9 gene-editing technology to develop new, improved varieties of selected crops. The company’s value reflects an increase of over 300% in under a year of the value from the company’s previous investment round, it said.

Oxeye, a technology innovator in cloud-native application security testing, closed a $5.3m.-seed financing round led by MoreVC. Currently in beta, the Oxeye security testing solution is built for AppSec, Dev and DevOps teams, helping to shift security left while accelerating development cycles, reducing friction and eliminating risks. The new funding will be used to complete product development and expand sales, marketing and operations.

Tel Aviv-based start-up Blings.io, which develops technology for creating dynamic interactive videos, completed a $4m.-seed round spearheaded by Hanaco Ventures. Its platform can dynamically create different videos for every user, based on data and business logic, and allows the user to interact with the video while watching it. The company’s technology is already used by Mercedes-Benz, Singapore Airlines, McDonald’s and others. The company is building no-code tools for professional video editors to enable them to easily add dynamic content and interactive abilities to their videos.

Or Yehuda-based medical device and digital medicine accelerator MEDX said it would invest $2.5m. in three start-ups in cooperation with the Israel Innovation Authority. The companies are VeinWay, developer of a dedicated solution for treating chronic venous blockages; EyeMed, developer of a premium lens for intraocular implantation that will allow vision to be adjusted in a non-invasive procedure after cataract surgery; and BeWeld, developer of a technology that will automate the manufacturing processes of implanted devices such as heart valves.

On the acquisition side, Fiverr International acquired Stoke Talent, a solution to help companies manage their work with freelance talent, for $95m. This includes tools to onboard, pay, track budgets and more. With Stoke’s product suite, Fiverr is looking to add more value to larger businesses and integrate with existing corporate work flows. Stoke has almost 30 full-time employees and is headquartered in Tel Aviv. Fiverr was founded in Tel Aviv in 2010, and said 4 million customers have used its platform to buy services from freelancers across more than 160 countries in the past year.

Israeli cryptocurrency unicorn Celsius acquired Tel Aviv-based cybersecurity company GK8 for $115m. GK8 provides financial institutions with a platform for managing and protecting digital assets, and was founded in 2018. Celsius, which offers an earning and lending platform for cryptocurrencies, raised $400m. last month.

Several new funds were announced this week. Walden Catalyst, an early-stage venture capital firm dedicated to deep-tech investments in data and AI companies across the US, Europe and Israel, closed a fund of more than $550m., surpassing its original target of $400m. The fund also said it invested $20m. in AI21 Labs, the natural language AI company founded by Amnon Shashua, the entrepreneur who also founded Mobileye, Orcam and the First Digital Bank. AI21 raised the funds at a $400m. valuation, for a total of $55m.

Silicon Valley-based venture fund UpWest closed an oversubscribed $70m. Fund IV to double down on its strategy backing Israeli founders breaking into the US market. UpWest invests in Israeli founders in the early stages of their companies, leading pre-seed and seed rounds to help them expand in the US market. UpWest also said it expanded its presence in Tel Aviv with a new office.