Israel’s startup scene has taken another big step forward today. Pitango Venture Capital, the Israel-based investment company behind like Apple-acquired Anobit, Samsung-acquired Boxee and many others, has closed a $270 million fund, which it will use to back “Israeli companies and companies with an Israeli nexus” that may otherwise be operating in the U.S. and Europe, according to Chemi Peres, co-founder and managing general partner. He says a “meaningful portion” of the investment in the fund came from Asia, specifically investors from China, India, Korea, Taiwan, Japan and Singapore — many investing in Israel for the first time.
Peres believes that this is an indication of how investment strategies are evolving globally.
“We certainly see a growing interest from Asia in Israel that is reflected in more private groups investing in VCs, companies, making acquisitions and building R&D centers,” he tells me. “The collaboration model is becoming more westward than before, and we see less interest in creating joint ventures.” This fund was originally intended to total $250 million (we covered the partial close here) but was oversubscribed and so extended by $20 million.
The world of startups out of Israel has had a lot of attention of late, with acquisitions reaching into hundreds of high hundreds millions (and even billions) of dollars — IBM’s purchase of cybersecurity specialist Trusteer; Google’s acquisition of mapping startup Waze; and Intel’s acquisition of gesture-interface specialist Omek being some of the most indicative of the trend, and some of the more high-profile. But not every deal starts as a headliner.
Pitango is named after a semi-wild cherry that grows in abundance in Israel. “However, the ripest Pitango fruit are always a challenge to find, hidden way out of general view within dense foliage,” it notes on its site. True to that name, the company has sought out investments that may be otherwise under the radar. That’s been helped along by Pitango’s focus on core rather than consumer technologies (fabless semiconductor company Anobit is one example; Provigent and Dune Networks, acquired by Broadcom, are others); although it also invests in more consumer-facing startups, too, such as media player Boxee and grocery comparison site mySupermarket.
Peres says that Pitango’s key areas of focus in tech at the moment are around big data (business analytics, prediction, infrastructure among them); cloud and IT infrastructure, cyber security, internet infrastructure, applications and content and ad tech, “especially in video.” While Pitango also invests in life sciences, medical devices, biotech and nanotechnology, it says the main focus of Pitango VI will be technology ventures, and investments will run the range from seed to growth stage investments.
Currently, Pitango, which has been around since 1993, has some $1.7 billion under management.