Tech Buzz: Israel's Lusha, OpenWeb join the unicorn club

Israeli start-ups have raised more than $21 billion so far this year.

Lusha's team. (photo credit: Courtesy)
Lusha's team.
(photo credit: Courtesy)

The Start-Up Nation juggernaut continues to outperform, with two new unicorns created this week and some $700 million in investments.

Israeli start-ups have raised more than $21 billion so far this year.

• Lusha, a crowdsourced data community for B2B sales and marketing professionals, joined the unicorn club when it raised $205m. in a Series B funding round that valued the company at $1.5b. The round, led by PSG, brought the company’s total investment to $245m. With these funds, Lusha plans to grow its 800,000-strong community of B2B sales professionals into the industry’s largest, by expanding its global presence and continuing to improve its service, it said.

• OpenWeb, the premium audience-relationship platform, announced a $150m. Series E funding round, valuing the company at over $1b. The round was led by Insight Partners and Georgian Partners. OpenWeb’s technology is used by more than one thousand publishers, fueling millions of high-quality conversations across thousands of communities with more than one hundred million monthly users. Founded in 2012, the company has over 150 employees in New York, Tel Aviv and Kiev.

• Digital employee experience company ControlUp completed a $100m. funding round, co-led by K1 Investment Management and JVP. This new investment will help drive innovation and partnerships, to give people the flexibility and freedom to work anywhere. Requiring less than 10 minutes to deploy, the company’s solution allows users to proactively monitor and improve the health of their systems, gain architectural-level insights, and ensure employees can access any line-of-business application from anywhere. Its customers include four of the top five US health insurance companies, five of the top eight US healthcare companies and four of the top six global telco companies.

OpenWeb's team. (credit: Courtesy)OpenWeb's team. (credit: Courtesy)

• TriEye, a developer of a short-wave infrared-sensing solution for mass-market applications, raised $74m. in a round led by M&G Investments and Varana Capital, bringing its total funding to $96m. Founded in 2017, TriEye works with major manufacturers based in Europe, Asia and the US, including Porsche, Continental, DENSO and Trimble.

• SafeBreach, a pioneer in breach and attack simulation, raised $53.5m. in Series D funding, led by Sonae IM and Israel Growth Partners. This new capital, representing the largest investment to date in a breach-and-attack simulation vendor, brings the company’s total funding to over $106m. since it was founded in 2014. The new capital will fuel the company’s plans to expand its market footprint to new geographies and evolve its offerings in response to client needs.

• DeepCure, a start-up developing novel, small-molecule therapeutics using the world’s largest artificial intelligence drug discovery engine, closed a $40m. Series A round led by Morningside Ventures, bringing its funding total to $47m. The company is developing several novel preclinical candidates across different “undruggable” classes in various indications in areas of high unmet medical need. With shorter drug development timelines, DeepCure’s technology ensures the discovery and development of new drugs that were previously undiscoverable. The proceeds from the financing will be used to expand DeepCure’s pipeline with five additional oncology programs and develop an automated robotic wet lab that can develop drugs using AI. The funding will also be used to double the headcount of its current drug discovery scientists and technologists next year, including a global expansion with the launch of two new sites in Greece and Israel.

• SWIMM, WHICH helps engineering teams better understand their code through continuous, auto-synced documentation, announced a $27.6m. Series A funding round led by Insight Partners. The round brings Swimm’s total funding to $33.3m. The two-year-old company also announced the launch of an open beta granting free access to any team that wants to use Swimm’s platform.

• Data-for-Justice platform Darrow, founded just over a year ago, raised $24m., led by Entrée Capital, NFX, F2 Venture Capital and Y-Combinator. Darrow has developed a machine-learning-based platform that discovers legal violations by large corporations causing damage to millions of people on average – the threshold for a potential class-action lawsuit. The company currently operates in Israel and New York, with more than 40 employees. Darrow is already serving dozens of leading law firms and generating millions of dollars in revenue. The company said the capital raised will be dedicated to further product development, business operations and recruitment.

• Haifa-based Blink Technologies announced a $14m. Series A funding round led by INcapital Ventures for its eye-tracking software. The new capital follows a seed round raised in April 2018 and brings Blink’s total investment to date to $24m. Blink’s technology combines eye-tracking control with 3D technology to allow for a seamless 3D environment without the use of special glasses or a head-mounted display. It helps customers engage via touch-less technology kiosks and online applications using gaze tracking on devices to provide eye control and selection on devices. The company plans to double its workforce to 60 employees by expanding its US and Asia sales, customer service and Israeli R&D teams.

• Taxi-hailing app Gett said it agreed to do a SPAC merger with Rosecliff Acquisition I to list on the Nasdaq market at a valuation of $1b. When the merger is completed in the first half of 2022, the company will trade under the ticker symbol GETT. Founded in 2010, Gett operates in Israel, the UK and Russia, and helps businesses reduce their ground transportation costs by an average of 25%, the company said.

• On the acquisition front, AI-powered insurance company Lemonade acquired US auto insurance tech company Metromile in an all-stock transaction worth $500m. The move follows its launch last week of Lemonade Car, the company’s new auto insurance service for US drivers. Founded in Tel Aviv in 2015, Lemonade currently offers home, renters, pet, and life insurance products to customers in the US, Germany, the Netherlands and France.

• Video giant Vimeo acquired Wibbitz, a company developing automated video creation tools. The value of the deal was not disclosed but is believed to be less than the $30m. that the company has raised since it was founded in 2011. Wibbitz has worked with companies including The Jerusalem Post, HubSpot, Bloomberg, Condé Nast, Harvard University and others to produce company-branded videos at scale. The deal extends Vimeo’s position as a professional video software solution for any business, it said.

• Minute Media, an Israeli technology and content company, acquired Wazimo, a Tel Aviv-based company with expertise in combining engaging content with advanced technology to drive audience growth and monetization. The value of the deal was not disclosed, but sources indicate it was worth tens of millions of dollars. The acquisition will enhance Minute Media’s Voltax platform by adding more robust data and business intelligence products and services with an emphasis on first-party data, it said.

• Anodot, a Ra’anana-based business monitoring company, acquired Hod Hasharon-based Pileus, a cloud cost management platform. The value of the deal was not disclosed, but sources say it was tens of millions of dollars. The companies’ combined offering, powered by machine learning, will enable businesses to proactively manage and forecast their cloud costs.