Category Archive : Israel

The Next Billion-Dollar Startups 2021

A $1 billion valuation isn’t what it used to be, as companies reach that milestone with breakneck speed, but there are still plenty of up-and-comers worth keeping an eye on. Here are Forbes’ picks for 25 venture-backed startups most likely to become unicorns.


For the seventh year in a row, Forbes has teamed up with TrueBridge Capital Partners to search for the country’s 25 venture-backed startups most likely to become unicorns. TrueBridge asked some 300 venture firms to nominate companies, while Forbes reached out directly to 80 startups. Then came the deeper look, as we analyzed finances and interviewed founders and investors. A $1 billion valuation isn’t what it used to be, as companies reach that milestone at breakneck speed. Even startups with barely any revenue are earning sky-high valuations as investors bet on future growth. The average estimated 2020 revenue for companies on this year’s list is just $12 million, compared with an average $30 million in previous year’s revenue for those on the 2020 list. Still there are plenty of up-and-comers worth keeping an eye on, including one that tests your dog’s DNA and another that will help you notarize documents from the comfort of your home. This list represents the 25, in alphabetical order, that we think have the best shot of becoming future stars. 


Abra 

Founder: Bill Barhydt (CEO) 

Equity raised: $86 million 

Estimated 2020 revenue: $10 million 

Lead investors: Arbor Ventures, First Round Capital, HCM Capital, Ignia 

This self-described “crypto bank” is among the oldest startups in bitcoin. Former Goldman Sachs vice president Barhydt, 53, founded the company in 2014 to help immigrant employees send money back home to their families. Today, Abra offers a souped-up bitcoin wallet that lends out both crypto and dollars held by its depositors at rates as high as 12%. The depositor receives 85% of the interest, while Abra takes the rest. The Mountain View, California-based firm also…

Read more at www.forbesafrica.com

International action on cyber threats. Cryptocurrency and sanctions. US agencies and 2FA.

At a glance.

  • Notes on the ransomware summit.
  • Japan’s policy on cybersecurity develops with a view to Chinese threats.
  • US guidance on cryptocurrency controls and sanctions.
  • Huawei spinoff’s position in the US.
  • US Government moves toward new modes of multi-factor authentication.
  • Comment on the US Joint Advisory on threats to water and wastewater treatment facilities.

Highlights from global ransomware summit.

As we noted last week, approximately thirty countries including the UK, Australia, India, Japan, France, Germany, South Korea, the European Union, Israel, Kenya, and Mexico, gathered at an international virtual summit hosted by the White House to discuss global strategies for fighting ransomware. Security Week offers some of the major takeaways from the meeting. The nations have vowed to collaborate on law enforcement operations to takedown attackers and cooperate to fight the illicit financial transactions linked to such attacks. It’s worth noting that Russia was conspicuously left off the guest list, not a surprise given that the majority of ransomware attacks targeting the US have been connected to Russian-speaking threat groups, but US officials say they’re communicating with Russia separately. 

Japan to establish a new ministry to fight Chinese cybersecurity threats.

As one of his first actions in the role, Japan’s new Prime Minister Kishida Fumio has announced the institution of a new minister to fight cyber threats from China, Japan’s largest trading partner and greatest geopolitical adversary. The Diplomat discusses the nations’ complicated relationship, as threat groups linked to China’s military and intelligence agencies have allegedly been behind several espionage attacks on Japanese entities. As well, compromised code has been found embedded in tech originating from Chinese supply chains, and Chinese nationals working or studying in Japan with access to sensitive data can also pose a threat to national security. The new minister is the latest…

Read more at thecyberwire.com

Tax Authority Aims at Fictitious Invoices, Cryptocurrency

YERUSHALAYIM

Eran Yaacov, Director General of the Israel Tax Authority. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israel’s Tax Authority will continue its efforts to rid the country of the scourge of fictitious invoices, which accounts for a large chunk of the black economy, despite failing to incorporate it in the new state budget, Globes reported on Monday.

Tax Authority director Eran Yaacov told the financial daily that “Part of the battle against the black economy is the ability to shift towards prevention. Technology is the way. For one reason or another, they did not allow us to proceed with the Israel Invoices plan. We shall continue to fight to introduce it, and there’s no other way to deal with this cancerous phenomenon.”

Tax officials have been hoping to capture billions of shekels in tax revenue by implementation of the “Chilean model.” This would require any business owner issuing an invoice of over 5,000 shekels to obtain immediate approval online from the Tax Authority at the time the invoice is issued.

It will not be possible to offset the VAT on an invoice that has not been approved. The Tax Authority’s aim is to be present when money is transferred between businesses and to prevent fictitious invoices. As of now, the plan has been blocked, but they intent to reintroduce it in the Knesset winter session.

Cryptocurrency was another of the Authority’s main targets that was culled from the budget bill. It wants to impose stringent reporting requirement on players in the cryptocurrency market (mandatory reporting of any holding of virtual currency worth NIS 200,000 or more, or that cost NIS 200,000 or more to buy)

Yaacov pointed out that even without such mandatory reporting, the Tax Authority will catch up with anyone who seeks to evade tax through cryptocurrency.

“With or without legislation, I tell you and the public as well, we’re there with the most advanced technology…

Read more at hamodia.com

Don’t put us to the test, tax chief warns crypto players

“There is no research in the world that a reputable economist can point to about the extent of the black economy. Anyone who reads the research sees that it’s difficult to say how big it is. The OECD and the World Bank put the global figure at 20% of GDP. But is it 20% or 6% without gambling and prostitution, that’s the question. We know for certain that the level of black capital, the shadow economy in Israel, is very high. It’s not necessarily found at the very large businesses. It exists, and it does a great deal of harm to Israeli society. Who has not experienced at least once a tradesman who doesn’t think it necessary to issue an invoice? At the Israel Tax Authority we are constantly fighting the black economy.”

These remarks came this morning from Israel Tax Authority director Eran Yaacov at the conference of the Institute of Tax Consultants in Israel in Eilat. Asked by “Globes” how exactly the Tax Authority plans to fight the black economy when most of its plans were taken out of the current Economic Arrangements Bill accompanying the state budget, Yaacov responded that he would continue to advance the planned reform in the fight against fictitious invoices that had been dropped from the bill.

The plan, which was supposed to have brought in billions of shekels in tax revenue, is known as the “Chilean model”. Under the program, revealed by “Globes”, any business owner issuing an invoice of over NIS 5,000 is meant to receive an immediate approval online from the Tax Authority at the time the invoice is issued. It will not be possible to offset the VAT on an invoice that has not been approved. The Tax Authority’s aim is to be present when money is transferred between businesses and to prevent fictitious invoices, but, as mentioned, the plan has been blocked.

Commenting on that, Yaacov said, “I genuinely believe that the more tools that are made available to the Tax Authority, the more we shall succeed. And part of the battle against the…

Read more at en.globes.co.il

A social-media intelligence report just for crypto traders

Angel investor and influencer marketing pioneer Gil Eyal contacted me in September about “an amazing Israeli founder who is revolutionizing the way traders invest in crypto.”

Eyal, the managing partner of Starfund, has been investing in crypto coins since 2013. So if he decided to put some shekels into a new Israeli startup, he’s got my attention.

Fortunately,I didn’t need to know much about cryptocurrency – digital tokens for goods-and-services transactions registered online using blockchain technology — to appreciate what Crowdsense does.

This AI platform delivers real-time intelligence reports to crypto traders and investors. Crowdsensescansmore than a billion social-media sources to sniff outnews, hype and sentiment relating to more than 3,000 cryptocurrencies. (I was surprised to learn there are that many!)

Gil Eyal. Photo: courtesy

“As an active investor in the crypto space, I always felt like there was something missing in my arsenal,” Eyal tells ISRAEL21c.

“In an industry driven by retail investor sentiment, I found it amazing that tools focus on either technical analysis or on-chain metrics, which completely ignore social-media hype and sentiment or the occurrence of direction-changing events.”

Crowdsense enabled Eyal to detect market-shifting events before the price started or completed its spike. It also afforded him a granular view of how each token is perceived by the market.

“The crypto market has significantly outperformed every other asset in the world over the last decade,” he says.

“To a much larger extent than most markets, it is driven by investor sentiment. If enough people believe a crypto token is valuable, it becomes valuable. Investors who are able to identify shifts in sentiment, or detect market-moving events early, make exceptional returns.”

Just one tweet from Elon Musk last March, announcing that people could buy a Tesla with Bitcoin, and another tweet two months later…

Read more at www.israel21c.org

Top cyber official: Hospital attack ‘purely financial,’ likely by Chinese group

Health Ministry cybersecurity chief Reuven Eliyahu said Monday morning that last week’s massive ransomware attack on Hillel Yaffe Hospital in Hadera was likely carried out by Chinese hackers whose motives were “purely financial.”

“This is probably a Chinese hacker group that broke away from another group and started working in August,” Eliyahu said in an interview on Army Radio. “The motive for the attack was purely financial.”

A ransomware attack involves breaking into an entity’s networks to encrypt its data, then demanding a ransom, typically paid via cryptocurrency, to unlock it. As a government hospital, Hillel Yaffe was barred from paying any ransom, according to Channel 12 news.

“We are investigating the incident and continue to invest funds to prevent such cases from recurring,” Eliyahu said.

With the Health Ministry still working to restore Hillel Yaffe’s systems, Eliyahu said that lessons learned from the cyberattack would soon be passed on to other Israeli hospitals, but that the battle against hackers was far from over.

“In the cyber world, the struggle is like a marathon; it is an ongoing war. This is World War III. It is a huge battlefield of billions of warriors,” he said, adding that “the health sector in Israel is attacked tens of thousands of times a month.”

The Kan public broadcaster reported Sunday that it could take “days or weeks” to recover the hospital’s systems, while the National Cyber Directorate and Health Ministry said in a joint statement that they were still working to restore Hillel Yaffe’s systems “gradually and securely, as soon as possible.”

A ward at Hillel Yaffe Medical Center on October 14, 2021, as staff try to. manage without regular IT systems (courtesy of Hillel Yaffe Medical Center)

Some non-urgent procedures…

Read more at www.timesofisrael.com

Report: US$590mil in ransomware payments reported to US in 2021 as attacks surge

WASHINGTON: New data out on Oct 15 showed US$590mil (RM2.45bil) in ransomware-related payments were reported to US authorities in the first half of 2021, setting a pace to beat totals for the previous decade as cyber-extortion booms.

According to the US Treasury Department report, the figure is 42% higher than the amount reported by financial institutions for all of 2020.

“If current trends continue, (reports) filed in 2021 are projected to have a higher ransomware-related transaction value than (reports) filed in the previous 10 years combined,” Treasury said.

The crime involves breaking into an entity’s networks to encrypt its data, then demanding a ransom, typically paid via cryptocurrency in exchange for the digital key to unlock it.

Washington has sought to crack down on a sharp rise in attacks, including issuing its first sanctions against an online exchange where illicit operators have allegedly swapped cryptocurrency for cash.

Recent assaults on a major US oil pipeline, a meatpacking company and the Microsoft Exchange email system drew attention to the vulnerability of US infrastructure to digital pirates.

The report, based on the suspicious activity alerts that financial firms have to file, noted it was unclear if the jump represented increased awareness of the cybercrime.

Threat to critical infrastructure

“This trend potentially reflects the increasing overall prevalence of ransomware-related incidents as well as improved detection and reporting,” Treasury said.

The victims of the attacks were not identified in the report, which noted some of the apparent ransoms were paid before January 2021.

The new data on the scale of payments related to hacks came after more than two dozen nations resolved to collectively fight ransomware during a Washington-led summit.

The United States gathered the countries – with the notable exception of Russia – to…

Read more at www.thestar.com.my

Data shows $590m in ransomware payments reported to US in 2021 as attacks surge

WASHINGTON (AFP) — New data out Friday showed $590 million in ransomware-related payments were reported to US authorities in the first half of 2021, setting a pace to beat totals for the previous decade as cyber-extortion booms.

According to the US Treasury Department report, the figure is 42 percent higher than the amount reported by financial institutions for all of 2020.

“If current trends continue, [reports] filed in 2021 are projected to have a higher ransomware-related transaction value than (reports) filed in the previous 10 years combined,” Treasury said.

The crime involves breaking into an entity’s networks to encrypt its data, then demanding a ransom, typically paid via cryptocurrency in exchange for the digital key to unlock it.

Washington has sought to crack down on a sharp rise in attacks, including issuing its first sanctions against an online exchange where illicit operators have allegedly swapped cryptocurrency for cash.

Recent assaults on a major US oil pipeline, a meatpacking company and the Microsoft Exchange email system drew attention to the vulnerability of US infrastructure to digital pirates.

The report, based on the suspicious activity alerts that financial firms have to file, noted it was unclear if the jump represented increased awareness of the cybercrime.

“This trend potentially reflects the increasing overall prevalence of ransomware-related incidents as well as improved detection and reporting,” the Treasury said.

The victims of the attacks were not identified in the report.

The new data on the scale of payments related to hacks came after more than two dozen nations resolved to collectively fight ransomware during a Washington-led summit.

The United States gathered the countries — with the notable exception of Russia — to unify…

Read more at www.timesofisrael.com

Bitcoin tops $60,000 on US fund approval hopes

Bitcoin breached the $60,000 mark for the first time since April on growing optimism that American regulators will greenlight the first US futures exchange-traded fund for the cryptocurrency.

The digital currency was up 40 percent from a month ago, reaching $60,126, according to Bloomberg News data, which reported that the US Securities and Exchange Commission could allow the ETF to trade next week.

The SEC has rejected attempts to create a Bitcoin ETF since 2013.

“An SEC Bitcoin ETF approval is a watershed moment for the crypto industry as this could be the key driver for getting the next wave of crypto investors,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA.

An ETF is a financial instrument that can include different assets and be traded on an exchange like other securities. A futures ETF means the product will be bought or sold at set price at a later date.

The SEC fuelled speculation of the imminent approval after writing the following advice on one of its accounts on Twitter: “Before investing in a fund that holds Bitcoin futures contracts, make sure you carefully weigh the potential risks and benefits.”

The ETF would add to an eventful year for the world’s leading cryptocurrency, which hit a record high at $64,870 in April and became a legal tender in El Salvador, the first country to adopt it officially.

China, meanwhile, has cracked down on trading and mining cryptocurrencies, which are created through solving complex equations — an endeavour that consumes enormous amounts of energy.

– SEC U-turn –

Bloomberg, which cited unidentified people familiar with the matter, reported that unlike past Bitcoin ETF applications that the SEC rejected before, the proposals made by financial firms ProShares and Invesco are based on futures contracts.

The proposals were filed under mutual fund rules that SEC Chairman Gary Gensler has said provide “significant investor protections”, the news agency reported.

“This is a key development for the crypto space as it…

Read more at news.yahoo.com

Listings, Sales Bring Tech Investors $583B

U.S. public listings or sales of technology companies brought $582.5 billion to their investors and employees during the 12-month period that started September 2020, the Financial Times (FT) reported.

Between July and September, 93 companies filed initial public offerings (IPOs), direct listings, or merger deals with special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs), more than in any other quarter in the year. Listings for the entire 12 months totaled $513.6 billion, while sales accounted for $68.9 billion, according to the report, which cited Pitchbook data. Deals with venture capital companies so far in 2021 have already moved past last year’s record total by more than 40%.

Technology startups filed more traditional IPOs so far in 2021 than any other time since 2000, the report stated, citing data from Refinitiv.

See also: US IPOs Reach Record $171 Billion Total

Oak HC/FT Managing Partner Andrew Adams said in the report that market conditions prompted some investors to boost valuations of private startups, and going public made the most sense.

“It puts a lot of pressure on building a great company,” Adams said, per the report.

Sales and private equity comprise most startup exits; however public listings are increasingly a larger portion of the proceeds from venture capital investments, according to the report. VC firms are dependent on exits to return funds to investors.

Read also: FinTech-Centered SPACs, Platform IPOs Dominate

Robinhood, for example, gave a big exit for investors when it completed an IPO at a $32 billion valuation in the third quarter after raising roughly $5.6 billion prior to the listing, the report stated.

Another example, cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase, was valued at $76 billion on its first day of trading in April after raising less than $600 million before its debut, making it among the most fruitful VC investments ever, per the report.

The high number of new listings also included “immature” startups with low sales figures…

Read more at www.pymnts.com

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