Well known in Israel are the corporate investors that have acquired startups – such as Apple and Microsoft, Google and Facebook. Those businesses have a presence throughout the country that now includes sprawling campuses in some of the country’s biggest skyscrapers.
Less well known is the family office capital consuming a part of the $5 billion investment pie which annually funds the cutting edge health, mobility, agricultural, scientific, safety and computing solutions being developed in the country. This group, as seen on an international level, often invests without fanfare.
Sometimes the investment is done for pure profit motives, other times it is because of an affinity for the country, an existing family or philanthropic connection, and sometimes because of a strategic connection to an existing holding company.
One thing is certain: as a result of Israel’s youth as a nation, few countries have a greater percentage of family office and high net-worth investors that were not originally born in the country.
For much of the family office capital that has funded or been committed to Israeli tech over the last decade, analyzed to be well over a billion dollars, an investment in the venture landscape is a strong way to get connected to investment opportunities while also giving back to its vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Here are twelve of the more noted investors in the space:
Haim Saban – the entertainment mogul is known for his early career beginning in Israel. While he left early in his professional activities, which has included such successful transactions as Univision, Fox Family and, most notably the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, he has also maintained a strong philanthropic efforts for Israel, which includes funding some of Israel’s most noted venture capital transactions, including SimilarWeb, ironSource and PlazBuzz. Saban’s most recent commitment to Israeli tech is focused on a $100 million fund that invests from post-seed to growth.
In the early 1990’s, Check Point was established by Gil Shwed, Marius Nacht and Shlomo Kramer. Today, it has become of the world’s leading cybersecurity businesses with revenue nearing $2 billion. The collective net worth of the founders has been estimated to be around $6 billion.
Like with many noted founders, there is a growing array of ventures that include capital from Check Point “wealth”. A prominent recent example is Marius Nacht’s establishment of the aMoon Fund, focused on mid-to-late-stage health technology companies, which has a target raise of $500 million for its latest fund.
Israeli software mogul Teddy Sagi, the founder of Playtech, has often been seen near the top of the Forbes list of wealthiest Israelis. Sagi’s strategy has been to make significant bets on a select few businesses or acquire them out-right. His most prominent technology holdings include in Israel include Crossrider, Stucco Media and Mobfox.
Len Blavatnik is a Russian-born British-American businessman, investor, and philanthropist whose holding company, Access Industries, was incorporated in 1986. Access Technology Ventures is the $2 billion-plus venture capital and growth technology investment effort of Access Industries. While Access Technology Ventures backed Gett, launched by Israeli founders, Blavatnik has a distinct entity focused on Israeli technologies called Claltech, whose investments include ironSource, Yotpo, Zerto and Zooz.
O.G. Tech Ventures is the tech investment arm of Eyal Ofer’s global commercial enterprise, Ofer Global, and was launched in 2017. Eyal Ofer has been listed as the second-wealthiest Israeli billionaire, with a net-worth exceeding $9 billion. O.G Tech Ventures has been one of the more prominent newer firms focused on Israeli tech, with investments that span consumer and enterprise, including Ensilo, arbe Robotics, Indegy, and Secdo, which has been acquired by Palo Alto Networks.
Earlier in 2018, Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich immigrated to Israel. With a net worth estimated by Forbes to exceed $10 billion, Abramovich has already made investments across Israeli-founded firms. A few of his holdings include StoreDot, Via, AnyClip and Spot.IM. His current base of known Israeli investments has tended to be more consumer or health-related.
Li Ka-Shing retired this year as chairman of CK Hutchison Holdings, one of the premier port investors, developers and operators of the largest health and beauty retailers in Asia and Europe. Li’s philanthropic gifts include a $130 million commitment to establish the Guangdong Technion – Israel Institute of Technology in Guangdong Province as a joint venture between Technion – Israel Institute of Technology and Shantou University. His most prominent foray into technology investments, HorizonVentures, includes prominent Israeli-founded ventures – from Hippo and Windward to Sentient Technologies and Wibbitz.
The Swarth Group is a private equity company, owned by Israeli investor Shaul Shani, whose activities in Israeli tech has been a central part of his career. His investment activities, which has included being a key operational partner, goes back decades. Fortscale, one of his holdings focused on machine learning-based User & Entity Behavior Analytics, was acquired this year by RSA Security.
The Montreal-based private investment firm Claridge, the investment vehicle which includes the Charles Bronfman family, returned to Israel over the last few years – now with a focus into technology investments. Claridge Israel is a partnership between CDPQ, one of the largest institutional investors in North America with net assets estimated to be over $230 billion, and Claridge Inc., the Stephen Bronfman Family Office, now controlled by Charles Bronfman’s son Stephen.
It was reported that they will be investing hundreds of millions of dollars in the technology and innovation sectors. This summer, Cyberbit Ltd., a subsidiary of Elbit Systems Ltd., “a world-leading provider of cyber range training and simulation platforms, and provider of IT/OT threat detection and security orchestration”, announced a $30 million investment from Claridge Israel.
One of the more recent investors into the Israeli technology scene is Adam Neumann, the serial entrepreneur most noted for founding WeWork. At just 39, Neumann’s wealth is estimated to be in the billions. He has selectively made investments as of late into diverse entities that range from the Selina chain of hostels to InterCube, am medical cannabis firm which announced a $17.5 million round.
Dr Shmuel Harlap is one of the lesser known international investors who is also of the most successful within Israeli tech. He serves as chairman and controlling shareholder of Colmobil, one of Israel’s leading auto importers, which imports Mercedez Benz, Mitsubishi, Hyundai and Smart Cars.
His most noted technology investment is an early bet on Mobileye. He continued to keep the investment for many years, even as the company went to an IPO, avoiding sales on the secondary market or in regular trading. His holdings, reported to be over 7% of the company, brought him an estimated $1 billion. One of his more recent Israeli tech investments is Bringg, a leading venture in the deliver logistics space.
Daniel Recanati, a member of the prominent Recanati family, is the founder and CEO of Rhodium. Headquartered in Israel but with an international presence, Rhodium has a strong focus on startup investments into Israel.
His reported investments include Compass, Zooz, YieldMo and Face.com, which was acquired by Facebook. Daniel is also a partner in GlenRock, established in 2003 by his father, whose holdings include Kamada, Rainbow Medical, Quigo, Mobileye (acquired by Intel), Quigo (acquired by AOL), and Object (acquired by Stratys).
Adam Finkel leads Israeli and Silicon Valley investments within a family office. He can be reached at Adam@OrfinVentures.com