Technology

SoftBank invests in Israel’s enterprise capital agency OurCrowd

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Masayoshi Son, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of SoftBank Group Corp., speaks during a press conference on November 6, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan.

Tomohiro Ohsumi | Getty Images

SoftBank has invested $ 25 million in an Israeli venture capital platform called OurCrowd in exchange for an undisclosed stake in the company.

The Japanese tech giant’s investment, announced on Wednesday, will come through SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2. Both companies have signed a “strategic partnership” as part of the deal.

Founded in 2013 by OurCrowd and headquartered in Jerusalem, the goal is to give institutions and accredited investors access to vetted venture capital investment opportunities that they may not otherwise find.

“We will explore mutual investment opportunities and help each other raise deals,” OurCrowd founder and CEO Jon Medved said in a media call on Wednesday.

“We will work to evaluate and understand market trends and the frontiers of technology, be it quantum computing or artificial intelligence,” he added.

When CNBC highlighted that SoftBank’s $ 25 million investment is relatively small compared to some of its other multi-billion dollar bets, Medved said, “SoftBank makes a lot of investments … some of them less than $ 25 [million], some of them much larger than $ 25 [million]. But for us we really don’t count the money. We’re much more interested in focusing on strategic importance. “

OurCrowd claims to have invested over $ 1.8 billion in around 280 portfolio companies and 30 funds on five continents. It claims to have attracted 140,000 investors to its platform and is Israel’s most active venture investor, according to VC research firm Pitchbook. This means that OurCrowd has made the most deals with Israeli startups since the beginning of the year.

The company has backed companies like mobility startup Jump, which was sold to Uber, and meat alternatives startup Beyond Meat, but it has yet to invest in a company that got out for more than $ 10 billion .

While Israel lacks tech giants on the scale of the US and China, the relatively small country of around 9 million people has earned a reputation for being strong in the tech space.

According to data from research firm IVC, nearly $ 18 billion was invested in Israeli startups in the first nine months of 2021, and there are 72 Israeli companies valued at over $ 1 billion, according to local technology network TechAviv.

“Everyone is debating whether Israel will create companies valued at $ 50 billion or $ 100 billion,” Medved said.

SoftBank in Israel

Medved said SoftBank has a “very interesting and growing presence” in Israel, where there are sizable outposts of Apple, Facebook and Google.

In July, SoftBank hired former Mossad boss Yossi Cohen to head SoftBank Investment Advisers’ operations in Israel.

Cohen said in a statement Wednesday that “the private market ecosystem has tremendous embedded potential.”

He added, “With OurCrowd, we have an investment partner with the networks and pedigree to help promising Israeli startups potentially become international tech champions.”

According to PitchBook, SoftBank has invested in Israel-founded companies such as AnyVision, eToro, Redis Labs, and Trax.

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