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Snapchat Said to Acquire Israeli AR Startup Cimagine Media for $40M

Snapchat Said to Acquire Israeli AR Startup Cimagine Media for $40M

Startup Nation. Cimagine was founded in 2012 by Yonmi Nevi (CEO), Nir Daube (VP Prodduct) and Ozi Egri (VP R&D), bringing together a team with expertise in computer vision, real-time image processing, mobile development, international marketing and business development, from leading technology companies such as Rafael Defense Systems, HP, IBM, Dassault Systemes, P&G, Amdocs and ECI Telecom. With further support from a multi-disciplinary advisory board in the fields of retail, architecture, user experience and technology, Cimagine says it is taking augmented reality (AR) in commerce to the next level. Cimagine is said to have launched the world’s largest implementation of AR in retail to date with Shop Direct, the largest global brand AR deployment with TCCC and the world’s first augmented showroom. Cimagine has been featured by the BBC, CNBC, Wired, and NRF, and was designated as one of Israel’s most promising and notable startups by Inc, Microsoft, and Forbes. Cimagine is headquartered in Israel with a global presence in the UK, USA and Australia. Cimagine has developed the most solid AR engine available today. Its patent-pending markerless technology automatically scans and identifies surfaces in scenes captured by a user’s mobile or wearable device camera and overlays life-like 3D images of products onto real-time video. Cimagine brings intuitive AR to commerce and to enterprise through a markerless solution that is launched at the click of a button. Unlike other solutions, Cimagine’s AR engine does not require the user to print and place a reference marker in order to identify surfaces and estimate scale. By combining information from a mobile device’s internal sensors with deep image processing and applying unique computer vision algorithms, Cimagine embeds 3D objects realistically into live video scenes, anchoring them to their position. Virtual products do not drift while the user moves around a room, thereby allowing users to view items from all angles and distances in order to make informed buying decisions. Cimagine’s proprietary rendering engine supports a high poly-count of 3D assets with textures that are ten times higher than the industry standard. This allows customers to experience life-like 3D product representations that are rendered in real-time at 30fps, the industry’s highest live video rate. Products appear life-like and to scale, so customers can simply and easily see if items fit their homes and offices from different angles and perspectives. The company’s platform is delivered as a cloud-based SaaS solution. Snapchat is a photo messaging app that allows users to take photos, record videos, add text and drawings, and send them to recipients. The company was founded in 2011 by Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy, when they were students at Stanford University. Snapchsat is said to have raised a total of $2.65 billion in venture funding from investors including Alibaba, Saudi Prince Alwaleed’s Kingdom Holding, Yahoo, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Tencent, Benchmark, Fidelity Investments, General Atlantic, IVP, and others. In August, Snapchat acquired San Francisco-based startup Vurb, a card-based contextual search engine app for Apple and Android devices, for $110 million, as previously reported by ExitHub. In March, Snapchat agreed to acquire Bitstrips Inc., a Toronto-based maker of personalized emojis known as bitmojis, for $100 million, and in June it acquired Obvious engineering.]]>

OD Kobo’s High-Profile @ShellanooGroup Incubator Abruptly Cancels Tel Aviv IPO

OD Kobo’s High-Profile @ShellanooGroup Incubator Abruptly Cancels Tel Aviv IPO

Shellanoo disclosed amid great mystery and fanfare, that it was planning to raise 100 million shekels ($26.5 million) or more, in an initial public offering on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange by October, as previously reported by ExitHub.

In a twist of fate. now the group’s investors, including billionaire Roman Abramovich, music luminaries including Tiesto, Avicii, will.i.am, David Guetta, Sebastian Ingrosso (of Swedish House Mafia), Nicki Minaj, Benny Andersson (of music group ABBA), plus super agents Ash Pournouri and Gee Roberson (previously chairman of Geffen Records and now part of Maverick Management), and other celebrities and friends such as supermodel Bar Refaeli and her brother Dor, who co-founded Blindspot, can tell O.D. Kobo –anonymously– what they really think, using Shellanoo’s Blindspot app.
Shellanoo said it currently manages “over $200 million in assets.” The IPO was supposed to be managed by Poalim IBI-Management & Underwriting Ltd (TASE: PIU), Israel’s leading local investment bank. “In a one-line statement to the bourse, Shellanoo – which last month said it would raise at least 100 million shekels ($27 million) in a share offering – did not give a reason for the cancellation and did not provide further details,” Reuters reported. “The main criticism Israeli financial journalists raised is that the (pre-revenue) company’s leading app – the messaging app Blindspot – has only 1.4M active users who are mainly teenagers in Brazil and dozens of potential apps that will be released later on,” wrote SeekingAlpha contributor, Lior Ronen, a financial analyst and CEO of Finro. “These dozens of new apps bring more of the same to already saturated markets like online dating, job hunting, used goods sales, social media and much more. The potential of these apps to gain substantial market share in the markets they target is tiny, while using a freemium model and in-app purchase revenue streams, make the potential revenues growth highly unlikely,” he added. Relying on Blindspot, “which tried penetrating a boiling market of messaging, the company is light years away” from even relatively small players like Telegram, with 100M monthly active users (MAU), and Kakaotalk, with 48M MAU (not to mention big players such as WhatsApp, Facebook, QQ Mobile, WeChat, Microsoft’s LinkedIn, Skype, Viber, Line, or Blackberry) noted Ronen, as illustrated in his chart below. messaging_apps_mau_stats Shellanoo said it had closed a $35 million round of funding in April 2015, in conjunction with the launch of its music sharing app Music Messenger. Last year Shellanoo’s backer Abramovich was said to have acquired for 100 million shekels The Varsano luxury boutique hotel property, nestled within the trendy historical neighborhood of Neve Tzedek in Tel Aviv, which he is expected to turn into his Israeli hôtel particulier. The hotel business has already been permanently closed. He’s also said to be periodically scouting for new high-tech investment opportunities in Israel. [caption id="attachment_6155" align="aligncenter" width="748"]The Roman Abramovich Hôtel Particulier in Neve Tzedek,Tel Aviv. The Roman Abramovich Hôtel Particulier (formerly Varsano) in Neve Tzedek, Tel Aviv.[/caption] Shellanoo is the brainchild of Oded “O.D.” Kobo, a serial Israeli Internet entrepreneur born in Hong Kong. He started his IT career at the age of 20 by developing patented technology for the lottery industry. He later moved back to Asia to establish IT outsourcing facilities. He is a co-founder of Chinese Internet companies KGIM, SinoSheen and Koolanoo Group. KGIM, a holding group of multiple Internet companies, and a seed investment group once partnered with the Prime Minister of Qatar HH Al Thani, was later sold to East River Capital for $80 million. In 2012 he founded social media app Pheed, which was sold for $40 million in 2014 to Mobli Media, a company controlled by Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim. Kobo is a former board member of Camden Market Holdings (LSE: MKT), a real estate conglomerate based in London, controlled Israeli property tycoon and technology entrepreneur Teddy Sagi. In December 2015, Shellanoo launched Blindspot, a new anonymous messaging app that gives people the opportunity to express their true feelings, without revealing their identity – unless they choose to. “Blindspot is definitely one of our portfolio’s liveliest projects,” said O.D. Kobo, chairman of Shellanoo Group. The idea for Blindspot emerged from a 12-hour hackathon at Shellanoo’s headquarters in Israel. “When you remove the barrier of identity between people things start to get interesting,” says Kobo. Blindspot is perfect for flirting or chatting. Users can message anyone in their contact list for one-to-one communication, sending text, images, voice-notes and video. Perhaps it’s the loud, cartoon-style design, the game-like interface, or simply the ability to message people anonymously. Whatever it is, Blindspot opens up a whole new world of communications. Message recipients can easily block other users and can ask senders to reveal their identity at any time. Any user that is blocked by three people is removed from the app. Any misuse can be raised directly with Blindspot. “What would you say to people you know if you were anonymous?” ask Dor Refaeli and Lee Greenberg, co-founders of Blindspot. “Most users want to flirt, play jokes on friends or share secretive information they would otherwise be scared to reveal. There’s so much fake comment on social media – it can be like an airbrushed version of life. We want people to have fun, and most of all we want people to be real with one another.” blindspot-refaeli Dor Refaeli (above, L) is the younger brother of Israel’s international supermodel Bar Refaeli (above, R). Funding terms and the equity share split between Shellanoo and Blindspot’s founders Refaeli and Greenberg were not disclosed. (Upper) Photo: O.D. Kobo and his wife Etty (Instagram/Walla).]]>

OD Kobo’s High-Profile @ShellanooGroup Incubator Abruptly Cancels Tel Aviv IPO

Abramovich, OD Kobo's Shellanoo Incubator Set for $26.5M Oct Tel Aviv IPO

Music Messenger. The group’s investors include billionaire Roman Abramovich, and attracted investments from music luminaries including Tiesto, Avicii, will.i.am, David Guetta, Sebastian Ingrosso (of Swedish House Mafia), Nicki Minaj, Benny Andersson (of music group ABBA), plus super agents Ash Pournouri and Gee Roberson (previously chairman of Geffen Records and now part of Maverick Management), and several others. Last year, Abramovich was said to have acquired for 100 million shekels The Varsano luxury boutique hotel property, nestled within the trendy historical neighborhood of Neve Tzedek in Tel Aviv, which he is expected to turn into his Israeli hôtel particulier. The hotel business has already been permanently closed. He’s also said to be periodically scouting for new high-tech investment opportunities in Israel. [caption id="attachment_6155" align="aligncenter" width="748"]The Roman Abramovich Hôtel Particulier in Neve Tzedek,Tel Aviv. The Roman Abramovich Hôtel Particulier (formerly Varsano) in Neve Tzedek, Tel Aviv.[/caption] Shellanoo is the brainchild of Oded “O.D.” Kobo, a serial Israeli Internet entrepreneur born in Hong Kong. He started his IT career at the age of 20 by developing patented technology for the lottery industry. He later moved back to Asia to establish IT outsourcing facilities. He is a co-founder of Chinese Internet companies KGIM, SinoSheen and Koolanoo Group. KGIM, a holding group of multiple Internet companies, and a seed investment group once partnered with the Prime Minister of Qatar HH Al Thani, was later sold to East River Capital for $80 million. In 2012 he founded social media app Pheed, which was sold for $40 million in 2014 to Mobli Media, a company controlled by Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim. Kobo is a former board member of Camden Market Holdings (LSE: MKT), a real estate conglomerate based in London, controlled Israeli property tycoon and technology entrepreneur Teddy Sagi. In December 2015, Shellanoo launched Blindspot, a new anonymous messaging app that gives people the opportunity to express their true feelings, without revealing their identity – unless they choose to. “Blindspot is definitely one of our portfolio’s liveliest projects,” said O.D. Kobo, chairman of Shellanoo Group. The idea for Blindspot emerged from a 12-hour hackathon at Shellanoo’s headquarters in Israel. “When you remove the barrier of identity between people things start to get interesting,” says Kobo. Blindspot is perfect for flirting or chatting. Users can message anyone in their contact list for one-to-one communication, sending text, images, voice-notes and video. Perhaps it’s the loud, cartoon-style design, the game-like interface, or simply the ability to message people anonymously. Whatever it is, Blindspot opens up a whole new world of communications. Message recipients can easily block other users and can ask senders to reveal their identity at any time. Any user that is blocked by three people is removed from the app. Any misuse can be raised directly with Blindspot. “What would you say to people you know if you were anonymous?” ask Dor Refaeli and Lee Greenberg, co-founders of Blindspot. “Most users want to flirt, play jokes on friends or share secretive information they would otherwise be scared to reveal. There’s so much fake comment on social media – it can be like an airbrushed version of life. We want people to have fun, and most of all we want people to be real with one another.” blindspot-refaeli Dor Refaeli (above, L) is the younger brother of Israel’s international supermodel Bar Refaeli (above, R). Funding terms and the equity share split between Shellanoo and Blindspot’s founders Refaeli and Greenberg were not disclosed. (Upper) Photo: O.D. Kobo and his wife Etty (Instagram/Walla).]]>

@Snapchat is Acquiring San Francisco Startup @VurbApp for Over $110M

@Snapchat is Acquiring San Francisco Startup @VurbApp for Over $110M

The Information. In late March, Snapchat agreed to acquire Bitstrips Inc., a Toronto-based maker of personalized emojis known as bitmojis, for $100 million, and in June it acquired Obvious engineering. The startup has reportedly raised a total of $2.65 billion to date. Snapchat’s investors include Alibaba, Prince Alwaleed’s Kingdom Holding, Yahoo, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Tencent, Benchmark, Fidelity Investments, General Atlantic, IVP, and other premier investors. Snapchat is a photo messaging app that allows users to take photos, record videos, add text and drawings, and send them to recipients. The company was founded in 2011 by Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy, when they were students at Stanford University. It is headquartered at a beachfront property in Venice, Calif. Vurb was founded in 2011 by Bobby Lo and is financially backed by Redpoint Ventures, Tencent, Vivi Nevo, Max Levchin, Drew Houston, and other Silicon Valley luminaries, having previously raised $10 million in venture and angel funding. The startup launched it’s iPhone app in early 2015. In quick succession, Vurb developed an Apple Watch companion app, then in August 2015, launched an app for Android and added Vurb chat. Vurb “enables people to find, plan, and share by connecting them to the most relevant information and tools from apps and services in a single experience,” according to the company. The app removes the need to switch through multiple other applications on the device to perform a task. Vurb helps users easily find, save, and “do the best things by connecting community recommendations, rich content, and useful services — personalized for you in one simple app,” it says. “Whether you are looking for inspiration in travel, entertainment, or just want to find dinner, Vurb brings you results you need to have the best experiences, share your plans with friends, or save your own ideas for later.”]]>

Slack Raises $200M Led By Josh Kushner's Thrive Capital at $3.8B Valuation

Slack Raises $200M Led By Josh Kushner's Thrive Capital at $3.8B Valuation

Josh Kushner’s New York-based Thrive Capital, with participation from GGV, Comcast Ventures and existing investors Accel, Index Ventures and Social Capital. Slack is a team communication application providing services such as real-time messaging, archiving, and search for modern teams. The app offers one-on-one messaging, private groups, persistent chat rooms, and direct messaging as well as group chats organized by topic. All content inside Slack is searchable from one search box and it integrates with a number of third-party services, including Google Docs, Dropbox, Heroku, Crashlytics, GitHub, and Zendesk. Slack was launched in 2013 by Serguei Mourachov, Eric Costello, Cal Henderson, and Stewart Butterfield. The app is available for Mac, PC, iOS, and Android. “We are taking this opportunity to further secure our leadership position as we continue to execute on our ambitious growth plans,” said Slack co-founder and CEO Stewart Butterfield. “This capital adds to our existing reserves and increases our ability to focus on an uncompromising long-term, strategic view.” “We are excited to partner with Slack as it continues to re-imagine how teams work together,” said Josh Kushner, managing partner at Thrive Capital. “We believe Slack will define the future of seamless communication in an increasingly complex world across platforms, teams and applications.” Kushner is also the co-founder of New York-based Oscar Health Insurance, a startup that employs technology, design, and data to humanize health care, which is said to have raised last month a $400 million private equity investment led by mutual fund giant Fidelity Investments, valuing Oscar at $2.7 billion. He is one of the sons of real estate magnate Charles Kushner, a native of Livingston, New Jersey. His brother, Jared Kushner, heads the family’s real estate empire, and is married to Ivanka Trump, daughter of presidential candidate Donald Trump. After graduating from Harvard University and Harvard Business School a few years ago, Josh Kushner started his career in the Private Equity Group at Goldman Sachs, Merchant Banking Division, but left after a short stint to found Thrive Capital in 2009. Thrive Capital is a venture capital investment firm focused on media and internet investments. Thrive has raised $600 million in four funds, from institutional investors including Princeton University, Wellcome Trust, Hall Capital and numerous other endowments. The firm has made investments in more than 70 companies. According to a profile in Forbes, Thrive was one of three firms, joining Sequoia Capital and Greylock Partners, to invest in Instagram’s $50 million Series B round at a valuation of $500 million. Forbes wrote that after Instagram sold to Facebook, “Thrive had doubled its money in 72 hours.” Photo: (L-R) Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom, with Thrive Capital Managing Partner Josh Kushner.]]>