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Secretive Israeli Startup Voyager Labs Raises $100M from Major Investors

Secretive Israeli Startup Voyager Labs Raises $100M from Major Investors

Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing’s Horizons Ventures, and Oracle Corp. (NYSE: ORCL) Irish subsidiary Ocapac Holding Co. Other participating investors are said to include British venture capital and private equity pioneer Sir Ronald Cohen, founder of Apax Partners, and chairman of The Portland Trust and Bridges Ventures, who is described as the “father” of British venture capital and social investment. Lloyd Dorfman, founder of London-based leading foreign exchange company Travelex Group, also reportedly invested in Voyager Labs. The startup, formerly known as Voyager Analytics, has reportedly been developing an artificial intelligence engine that combines expert systems with deep-learning algorithms, and currently has more than 90 employees mostly in Hod Hasharon, near Tel Aviv. The company has customers and use cases, and is said to be capable of extracting dynamic, real-time, and tailored insights into human behavior by analyzing massive amounts of publicly available unstructured data. “Powered by our sophisticated cognitive computing deep-insights platform, publicly available data becomes a treasure trove of information which can provide unprecedented value to businesses,” said Voyager Labs founder and CEO Avi Korenblum. “Despite the elusive nature and overwhelming proliferation of unstructured data, we can extract precise, meaningful insights from this data to benefit our customers.” Voyager Labs’ mission is to make the ever-growing richness of publicly available data accessible and usable in a smart way. The company’s cognitive computing deep-insights platform makes it possible for enterprises across a variety of market sectors to make highly accurate decisions, based on a previously untapped vault of information.]]>

Amdocs $DOX Acquires Vindicia, Brite:Bill and Pontis for $260M

Amdocs $DOX Acquires Vindicia, Brite:Bill and Pontis for $260M

Amdocs (NASDAQ: DOX), a leading provider of customer experience software solutions for communications, entertainment and media service providers, said it has closed the acquisition of three privately owned companies – Vindicia, Brite:Bill and Pontis – in line with the company’s digital strategy. The three similarly priced companies were acquired for a combined amount of approximately $260 million in cash, including certain small earnouts. “Communication and media service providers, including those with over-the-top offerings, are transforming to capture the world of on-demand services and digital immediacy. When combined with business-driven analytics behind the scenes, this ensures a simplified, intuitive and engaging customer experience,” said Amdocs president and CEO Eli Gelman. “These acquisitions, alongside Amdocs’ existing platforms which include multi-channel, digital care and commerce, customer management and big data analytics solutions, position Amdocs as the market leader to help communication and media providers on their journey,” Gelman continued. Silicon Valley-based Vindicia is a market-leading provider of software-as-a-service (SaaS) subscription management and payment solutions. Vindicia makes it easy, flexible and frictionless for digital enterprises to onboard customers and process payments for digital content, over-the-top (OTT) entertainment, online subscriptions and on-demand services. Utilizing cloud-based operations for greater business agility, Vindicia’s ultra-fast time to market allows customers to easily experiment with various service offerings and pricing schemes to quickly introduce offers and attract new users. In addition, Vindicia’s advanced retention capabilities reduce user churn and increase top-line revenue for online service providers. Dublin, Ireland-based Brite:Bill‘s design-led, user-experience experts turn the customer bill into a unique, customer-centric engagement channel. Brite:Bill’s technology and services transform invoices into a personalized, digital, interactive billing experience in the channel of the customer’s choice. The invoice’s customized and engaging design reduces customer confusion around the bill, thereby cutting service provider costs around inbound inquiries, and also provides an engagement opportunity for service providers to promote new services. Tel Aviv-based Pontis, is a leading provider of contextual digital engagement solutions. Pontis’s real-time decisioning and learning technology enables service providers to offer their customers personalized contextual interactions relevant to where that individual customer is in their journey with the service provider. With Pontis, Amdocs is uniquely positioned to help service providers determine the next best action for customer engagement and then to offer the customer, across outbound and inbound channels, the most appropriate service at the right time and the right touch point. The impact of these acquisitions on Amdocs’ diluted non-GAAP earnings per share is expected to be neutral in fiscal 2017. Together, these acquisitions are expected to contribute 1.5% to 2.0% to total company revenue for the full fiscal year 2017. The Yellow Pages Years (1982-1990) Amdocs developed the first automated system for directory publishers, which put the customer, not the phone number, at the center. The 1984 breakup of AT&T led to Amdocs sealing a crucial win with Southwestern Bell (SBC) Yellow Pages, entering the US market and becoming the world leader in the Yellow Pages space. “I’ve always been proud of my long association with Amdocs, but it’s a special privilege to be at the helm as the company celebrates its 30th anniversary,” said Gelman. “In some aspects, Amdocs has changed beyond all recognition over the past three decades.”

“When I joined in 1987 as a team leader, managing two people, we were still a small, young company, focusing on one application/business area – Yellow Pages.” –Eli Gelman, Amdocs President & CEO
Amdocs Today “Today we’re a global company with over 250 service provider customers, offices in some 60 countries and a workforce of over 19,000 employees. But in one crucial area we have not changed: the determination of our employees to ensure the success of whatever project they’re working on, at any particular time,” Gelman concluded. Amdocs is a market leader in customer experience software solutions and services for the world’s largest communications, entertainment and media service providers. For more than 30 years, Amdocs solutions, which include BSS, OSS, network control, optimization and network functions virtualization, coupled with professional and managed services, have accelerated business value for its customers by simplifying business complexity, reducing costs and delivering a world-class customer experience. Last year Amdocs acquired a substantial majority of Comverse Inc.’s (NASDAQ:CNSI) business support systems (BSS) business unit assets for $272 million. Comverse was originally founded in Israel as Comverse Technology in 1997, becoming one of Israel’s flagship high-tech companies. Its BSS asset sale to Amdocs was part of a multi-step divestment plan. The Amdocs portfolio enables service providers to capture the world of digital immediacy by operating across digital dimensions to engage customers with personalized, omni-channel experiences. Amdocs and its more than 24,000 employees serve customers in over 90 countries. The company is headquartered in Chesterfield, Missouri. Amdocs had revenue of $3.6 billion in fiscal 2015, and has a current market capitalization of over $9 billion. HeritageBrand-Infographic_v09 Photo: Eli Gelman, Amdocs President & CEO.]]>

Germany's Market Research Giant GfK Elects New Chairman, Said to Explore Exit

Germany's Market Research Giant GfK Elects New Chairman, Said to Explore Exit

WirtschaftsWoche. While concurrently facing a leadership crisis, after an extraordinary meeting the supervisory board of GfK SE said it appointed marketing expert Ralf Klein-Bölting as the company’s new chairman. GfK SE has a current market capitalization of $1.06 billion euro, and reported 1.5 billion euro in sales in 2015, with 13,485 employees worldwide. On September 13, Klein-Bölting will succeed outgoing GfK SE chairman Arno Mahlert, who together with CEO Matthias Hartmann recently announced their resignations, after ongoing disappointing financial results. “The top priority will be on further strengthening the operational business as well as the search for a new CEO,” Klein-Bölting said after his election. The 54-year-old joined the GfK SE supervisory board since May 2016, and is an expert in consumer marketing. He has over 23 years of experience in the branded goods, services and retail industries. Before founding NextBrand in Hamburg and becoming its managing partner in 2013, he served in senior management positions at Mars, Deutsche Bahn, Tchibo and Otto Group.. Klein-Bölting was among other things until July 2009, marketing chief at Deutsche Bahn. Since 2009 he has been a member of GfK Verein’s executive board. The roles of GfK Verein and GfK SE are, however, separate, the companies say. As a non-profit organization, GfK Verein is primarily focused on “fostering market research,” while GfK SE focuses on “the collection of market, brand and product-specific insights.” “The two institutions supplement one another: The GfK Verein benefits from its cooperation with GfK SE in the form of practical knowledge, such as current market developments and needs. GfK SE uses the GfK Verein’s research findings as background knowledge when it advises clients or develops new instruments and solutions,” GfK Verein says. GfK SE, established in 1934 as Gesellschaft für Konsumforschung (Society for Consumer Research) is Germany’s largest market research institute, and reportedly the fourth largest market research organization in the world, after Nielsen Company, Kantar Group and Ipsos. The company operates in over 100 countries and operates Norm Research & Consulting AB as a wholly owned subsidiary. “More than 13,000 market research experts combine their passion with GfK’s long-standing data science experience,” the company says. “By using innovative technologies and data sciences, GfK turns big data into smart data, enabling its clients to improve their competitive edge and enrich consumers’ experiences and choices.” GfK was founded by an association of university teachers, among them Ludwig Erhard, later Minister for Economics and Chancellor of Germany. In 2005 it acquired NOP World, based mostly in the United Kingdom, the United States and Italy, which was rated the ninth largest market research business in the world, a move described by the company as “the most important decision made by GfK since going public in 1999.” In 2008 it acquired an equity stake in Deep-Packet Inspection company Qosmos, in order to track and monitor Internet usage for marketing research. In 2011, GfK acquired Knowledge Networks (KN), based in Palo Alto, California, an online research firm focusing on consumer products and services, pharmaceuticals, retail, media, and public policy. KN’s Dimestore platform provides the ability to measure the effectiveness of digital ad campaigns with simple surveys of streaming video ads and real-time reporting. The GfK Verein was established in 1934, in response to Germany’s economic crises of the 1920s, primarily to “allow the voice of the consumer to be heard.” Consequently, the purpose of the Verein since its inception has been to promote market research. Today, the GfK Verein is a market research think tank acknowledged by those in both scientific circles and engaged in practical application. Its mission as a not-for-profit organization is to create and pass on knowledge. Its membership consists of approximately 600 companies and individuals. The purpose of the Verein is to develop innovative research methods in close cooperation with academic institutions, to promote the training and further education of market researchers, to observe the structures and developments in society, the economy and politics that play a key role in private consumption, and to research their effects on consumers. Survey results are made available to the membership free of charge.]]>

IBM Watson Health to Acquire Truven Health Analytics for $2.6B

IBM Watson Health to Acquire Truven Health Analytics for $2.6B

“With this acquisition, IBM will be one of the world’s leading health data, analytics and insights companies, and the only one that can deliver the unique cognitive capabilities of the Watson platform,” said Deborah DiSanzo, general manager for IBM Watson Health. “Truven’s impressive team, extensive client roster, and expansive data sets complement Watson Health’s broad-based team, capabilities and offerings. Together, we’re well positioned to scale globally and to build first-in-class offerings designed to help our clients apply cognitive insights in a value-based care environment.” “The Truven Health Analytics team is eager to combine our capabilities and expertise with the Watson Health portfolio,” said Mike Boswood, president and CEO, Truven Health Analytics. “This will help catapult the industry forward to transform healthcare and to save and improve lives.” The deal is expected to close later this year, subject to satisfaction of customary closing conditions and applicable regulatory reviews. Watson Health Offerings Optimized for Value-Based Care Value-based care is an emerging healthcare model that aims to improve the quality of care while controlling costs and driving better near- and long-term health outcomes for individuals. While traditional health systems have paid for volume based on a fee-for-service model, value-based care models use payment incentives that aim to advance quality outcomes at lower cost. This payment model requires that providers, payers and other stakeholders have evidence — data and insight — to document how specific elements of care contribute to achieving a target health outcome for a given cost. Watson Health offerings will be optimized to help clients succeed in this environment by helping them achieve better patient outcomes at reduced cost through advanced analytics and actionable insights. Truven Health Analytics owns some of the most trusted brands in healthcare, such as MarketScan, 100 Top Hospitals, Advantage Suite, Micromedex, Simpler, ActionOI and JWA. Truven Health Analytics is headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with offices in Denver, Chicago, Raleigh-Durham, and a center in India. Watson is the first commercially available cognitive computing capability representing a new era in computing. The system, delivered through the cloud, analyzes high volumes of data, understands complex questions posed in natural language, and proposes evidence-based answers. Watson continuously learns, gaining in value and knowledge over time, from previous interactions. In April 2015, the company launched IBM Watson Health and the Watson Health Cloud platform. The new unit will help improve the ability of doctors, researchers and insurers to innovate by surfacing insights from the massive amount of personal health data being created and shared daily. The Watson Health Cloud allows this information to be de-identified, shared and combined with a dynamic and constantly growing aggregated view of clinical, research and social health data. Veritas Capital is a private equity firm that invests in companies that provide critical products and services to government and commercial customers worldwide. It specializes in leveraged recapitalizations, buyouts, and growth capital investments in middle market companies. Veritas has made 70 investments and acquisitions in aerospace and defense, communications, education, energy, government services, healthcare, national security, and technology industries. Veritas has assembled a premier team of senior investment professionals led by managing partners Ramzi M. Musallam and Hugh D. Evans. The firm was founded in 1992 and is based in New York, N.Y., with an additional office in Washington, DC.]]>